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Summer of Change

June 18, 2017

 

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The Negril Lighthouse

As summer begins we are changing our IDEA approach to inspire others.  As a consultant you can inspire others to dream but can not insure they realize the potential of their projects.  We have seen a lack of execution on so many of our recent concepts and now see an opportunity to participate in projects as an equity partner to insure the projects are fully realized.  Look for our new innovations to the cruise industry, private islands and resorts which will inspire our guests and generate new opportunities for revenue growth.

Inspired innovation requires a knowledagable client and one who’s own personal interests don’t out weight that of the project itself.  You can always build a project cheeper but never ever realize its true potential.  Too many people are satisfied with “good” and don’t seek “Great”. Great takes a lot of work and requires the principles to make decisions with some level of risk.  Employees working as mid level executives find that protecting their jobs is much more important than innovation or advanced thinking that may lead to improved revenue growth.  The larger the organization the less innovation as job security takes priority over performance.

Think Big and in this Summer of Change take a risk, push the envelope and add value to everything you do!

Harvest Caye Open

November 27, 2016

 

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Harvest Caye Belize Concept by IDEA

I want to congratulate Norwegian Cruise Lines on the opening of Harvest Caye this past week.  We certainly enjoyed the challenges in the initial concept phase and program development on what was then a $45 million Dollar budget.  Unfortunately we had to exit as the project as it was under funded and critical elements like the lagoon pool were omitted from our initial plans.  We are glad to see many of these critical elements we suggested now in the final product; which should promise to deliver a great guest experience.  I am booking my trip now to visit this new private destination and see for myself how it turned out.  It is always good to see a dream  realized and now can be enjoyed by so many!

I can’t wait to enjoy a drink in that pool that we fought so hard to get included in the plans.   Walk Good!

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Harvest Caye Final Rendering

Client Management

November 27, 2016

We have learned over the years that one of the most critical aspects of our work is Client Management.   You must always know how your client is perceiving your services and if they value those services.  Recently we reengaged with a past client to solve immediate problems with their project.  We already had a bad experience with the client previously due to two aspects of our work.  The Client “did not understand the scope of work” we were providing and “did not see value in our product”.  When contracting with uneducated Clients, those not familiar with phases of design, like Concept, Schematics or Design Development you had better expect some complications.  We have focused most of our work in “Concept Only” and help the client set a good direction for their project.  We have learned that some clients think Concept means everything they need to know to complete the project, which is just not the case.  Many clients buy creative concept and then ask 20,000 questions that need to be answered in additional passes of work.  Some just expect everything for nothing.  It is always important for the client to understand the big picture and clearly understand what to expect in concept, what to expect in Schematics and what to expect in Construction Documents.  Unfortunately many client want the whole of the information but want to just pay for concepts.   When ever we encounter the Concept only type we must accept that is all they get and not continue to expand concept by answering continuous lines of questions.  These concept only guys think they can fill in the blanks and never pay for full design docs, but it never works out.  Our recent client paid for concept only and then wanted detail design but on limited number of hours.   Sure enough 30% into the site demolition they needed help, what is this dimension, what is that dimension, how are we suppose to to something or another.  They then added to the problem by hiring a cheaper version of Project Manager to fill in the blanks.

What a disaster!  But we blame ourselves for jumping back in to try and right the ship!  Now it was a disaster with us on board!  The ship is sinking and no one has a bucket to bail.  Needless to say always clearly define for the client what he is getting as well as what he is not!  He will certainly want all the answers but you have to mange the Clients Expectation.  If you don’t manage them well the client will fail and the project will reflect badly on everyone involved.  Inspire others to dream and run like hell when they start to micro mange the information and build from a concept only set of design documents.

Have a few drinks and move on!                         Disney Fantasy in Tortola

June 2016 Inspiration

June 7, 2016

IDEA Wandering Team

I just wanted to write a quick summary of projects on-going and where some others are just never getting complete.  Over the past two years we have restructured our company to get back to being more fun and creative and away from the project management of construction projects in the Caribbean.  We are currently creating inspired destinations in ASIA for the ever expanding cruise industry and opening new doors in a new market.  Great fun and challenges await if clients can keep up with innovations and adapt to the changing global expectations of guests.  But quickly as I was looking at project we inspired back in 2013 and 14; some of which are still struggling to fully open or even open at all. It is easy to see how we inspire people to think about what can be; but much harder to inspire them to pursue the project realization with the same level of enthusiasm and care we took in the creation.  Too many times once the creative idea is floating out there everyone becomes the “expert” and immediatley deviate from the original plans.  They grow confident in their own abilities which most always lack the experience or knowledge required to be successful.  They forget about inspiration and just get buried in the many task at hand and loose sight of the goals.    We created a project for the BVI out of thin air, with a new government and no entry strategy for attracting the Cruise Industry.  We completed our work, delivered 100% drawings and simply never got paid, but the project moved ahead and now is over budget by 100% and still not fully open.  The other large private island project Harvest Caye was also creatively developed and then taken on by the client to open in 2015 and is now over 100% over budget and still not open at all!  How do these projects loose their way and end so badly?

Inspiration is the key to innovation but it can only become valuable if the client is inspired to deliver and has the knowledge and experience to dream and to realize the concept fully.  I am learning to work only with clients who once inspired can deliver and not loose their way.   “Not all who wander are lost”, JRR Tolkien,  however I can give you the names of some who truly lost their way.

Amami

By the way not lost just wandering in Southeast Asia!

Peaceful Easy Feeling

January 19, 2016

It is with very great sadness that I write tonight about the passing of a close friend I never actually met.  Growing up in South Georgia I was exposed at a young age to the musical world that was to be Southern Rock!  When living in Statesboro Georgia I occasionaly worked for Cellar Door Productions as a roadie helping set lights and rigging stages as bands passed through Southern Cities like Savannah, Macon and Augusta.  I worked a show in Savannah for Linda Ronstadt, I think it was in July 1973.  After we set the show I took a seat in the front row to listen to the sound checks as the bands came on stage.    As I sat a man came over and took a seat next to me and introduced himself “hi I’m Kris” and I realized it was Kris Kristofferson having just seen him in a Star is born he was easy to recognize. Little did I know that it was to be the first of many chance celebrity introductions in my life; but one I will always remember.  As I was adjusting to meeting him a band came on stage lead by Glenn Frye with Don Henley, Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner, Linda’s back up band.   They started playing and I have been hooked on their music for over 43 years.  The music icon Glenn Frye passed away today at the age of 67, and I know he is in heaven tonight with a “peaceful easy feeling” as a generation of music lovers mourn his passing.  What an inspiration he and the Eagles have been and what a legacy of music they leave behind for all of us to enjoy.

Rest in a Peaceful Easy Feeling my friend!

glenn frey

 

2016 Looking Forward

December 30, 2015

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On leaving 2015 I have mixed feelings as it was a year of many transitions for our firm and the industries in which we work and continue to inspire.  The continued growth within the Cruise Industry has continued to evolve and now includes new cruise brands and a demand for many new exciting destinations.  We have seen a new need for expanding what are traditional ports of call to include new home ports in the mainland us and new private destinations that can accommodate the much larger cruise vessels.

Our 2015 also include new directions for our creative input which included some port cities like Mobile Alabama, Tampa Florida and Savannah Georgia; which all show big potential for near term cruise development.  Projects also expanded to include destination design and development concepts for the USS Alabama and Cocoa Beach Pier where guest just demand more guest delivery.  It is interesting to see how established destination attractions can grow their base with aspects developed through the Cruise Excursion business model.  Even our work this year with a new branded Hard Rock Beach Club demonstrates a need for traditional business models to look for new revenue streams and for redefining their own categories.  As a Brand Consultant it is important to make sure Clients understand the need to look outside their comfort zone and traditional business models and expand their own expectations.  Many attractions and destinations are mature models which quickly start to lose their market to newer more dynamic versions of the digital age market.  If you are in a business today that has not expanded into new digital revenue outlets in the last 2-3 years you may find your self in the declining marketplace even if you are now a market leader.  The advent of new technologies and use of new distribution in marketing messaging has changed the rules forever in tour and travel.  You must be relevant today!  Our Client profile is expanding and our current markets are changing to include a much more dynamic approach  to guest experience design using media and new technology.  “Our approach is based on making sure your message is relevant to the market today” not to client preconcieved notions of what they think the public is looking for.   Many of our successful clients are still living in the pre digital world mindset and value their opinions of the past success as valid for today and for the near term future.  Most of these preconceived notions are from a world that no longer exists.  If you were born in the 50’s or 60’s you are most likely seeing the world through an old pair of glasses, you need to get your eyes checked by a 16 yr old and if you can get their attention for more than 5 mins you have just started the journey to a whole new world.  You had better have a active social media footprint and understand your world is now vintage and if not updated in an instant message is just old news.

Inspired for 2016!

 

 

Disney Fantasy in Tortola

December 22, 2015

It was a very proud day today for me visiting Tortola and seeing the Disney Fantasy on its inaugural call into our created Tortola Pier Park.  Unfortunately the Pier Park was not complete but the ship looked great sitting in the port and made a lot of dreams come true.  I want to congratulate the people of the BVI on their new Port of Call and a bright future as a part of the cruise tourism industry.  And congrats to our executive team including John Darley, Rob Coles and Martin Lucas.

Let’s go get a few more open and grow the destinations to include more islands and new ports to explore.  Two more ports are on the immediate horizon and I look forward to realizing more dreams.

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Walk Good and Inspire others to Dream!

The Caribbean Journey

December 7, 2015

Developing a project in the Caribbean is by all means difficult.  I don’t mean just difficult but really difficult.  Creating an authentic destination even adds more complexity and makes every aspect of the project more time consuming and painstakingly slow.

Once you found the right location you must envision it to make sure all the bases are covered.  It must be a technically sound location and can accommodate the project being planned, it must politically aligned and it must meet the needs of the consumer or industry in which it will serve.

Great sites are actually easy and can be found as easy as driving around on google.   The politically correct criteria is where things get difficult.  In the Caribbean which is our region of choice for development it comes with a lot of baggage.  As Captain Jack Sparrow was quoted “Pirate” when answering a question about his truthfulness.  I have encountered my share of Pirates in the Caribbean and even after working on the re-hab of the original ride at Disneyland in 1985 still can’t seen to recognize the good ones from the bad.   Everyone must agree that for the Caribbean to survive you must have Pirates it just in the blood of the islanders.  So when you embark on a project in the Caribbean be mindful that you will deal with your share of pirates.  The final criteria is if it meets the consumers expectations?  In today’s Tour and Travel industry guest have a lot of options.  Your project must meet the needs of the travelers not those of the developer or government in which the project is realized.

Sail on ye hardy yo ho!

Haiti Map

Historic map of Haiti and Tortuga along the north coast

Vision Verses Execution

December 7, 2015

As an Imagineer with the Walt Disney Company I realized a life long dream of working for the greatest entertainment company in the world. One of my first life lessons as an Imagineer was to understand the difference between vision and execution; we often spoke about the “Imagineering Sky Crane”.   It was the imaginary crane holding some cool object suspended in mid air because it made the rendering look cool! There is a lot to be said about a great piece of art but if it can not be realized it is just fantasy and has little value in the real world except for being a piece of art. A successful Imagineer must balance the dream with the reality.

So many times clients will start a creative conversation with me with this quote “remember we are not Disney”.   I often reply you mean you don’t want to be successful, or the leader in your category and they say no we just don’t have those budgets. Usually the creative process has nothing to do with a budget but as is an exploration in what the client wants to achieve. Disney like any company must respect the value of their investment; and of all the companies I have worked with they adhere to a budget and schedule as well as anyone. I was always proud to have completed an attraction on budget and ahead of schedule, which I accomplished at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland. I also learned it was a team effort and no one person can do it alone. Working on a creative team also meant that everyone had the same goal and understood the value in every decision and was not working to undermine the end product. I have been very disappointed in my 30 years developing projects to see many great projects be “over value engineered” to the point they lost their value and simply never performed to their potential.

In the Caribbean we see this “over value engineering” way to often; that after a project is designed, unassociated and un affected third parties begin to value out critical elements and see their goal to simply reduce price at any cost. Many times that cost savings kills the value of the investment and may lead to a business enterprise closing due to non-performing. No one ever lays blame to the value engineer or the quantity surveyor but will say it was a “bad idea”.   Value is a key critical success factor in any business and it must be recognized by the consumer and will reap the benefits of intent to return.   Vision when sold must be managed by the creator through out the process to insure the value is retained even if reductions in some items are made but not at the expense of the projects essence or the guest experience.

Dream On!

Tortola Pier Park Sense of Arrival

June 29, 2015

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IDEA Concept for Pier Park Village Square now removed by BVIPA

I was recently in Tortola to survey the progress on the IDEA inspired Tortola Pier Park. I am proud of the work our team performed and the vision we created to attract Disney and Norwegian Cruise Lines to the port. However I am concerned about the state of the port and the drastic changes being made in what could have been a marquis port of call in the Eastern Caribbean.

Although Norwegian Cruise Lines Getaway was in port the guest arrival is greatly compromised by the lack of completed infrastructure and landscape. “The sense of arrival in any destination is the most important aspect of the guest experience”. IDEA worked diligently over two years to craft and design a fantastic arrival into the British Virgin Islands. Unfortunately the decision by the BVI Port Authority Board to self perform the construction of the project has proven to be a mistake. The arrival of such a grand ship as the Getaway to a construction site is very disappointing for everyone including the residents of the BVI. The lack of vision in making sure that the opening April 29th and on its arrival every Wednesday is not more of a priority demonstrates a lack of commitment to quality tourism. It was such an embarrassment to see guests walking on dirt and gravel parking lots to reach their island destination. No landscape is installed even if only temporary to provide shade and green space, I think by all accounts is an unacceptable arrival to such a great destination. I understand that Norwegian is only paying $6 head tax not the $15 as guaranteed, as that is understandable given the current condition of the site. “You only have one chance for a first impression and the unfortunately for now it is not a good one” .

I would like to see more effort put forth by the port authority to complete the project and to the IDEA specifications that were set fourth before their efforts to self perform. The redesign as I was told removed many of the iconic elements of the project like the cricket pitch green space and residential units within the village to give it life 24/7. The site needs immediate landscape attention and a plan in place to complete building in phases not to allow poured slabs with exposed rebar to dominate the site. If funds are not available to complete building slabs should not have been poured. Evidently pouring slabs was more important than tourism arrival impressions and collecting full head tax fees to repay the BVIPA investment.

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IDEA Concept for Village Green now removed by BVIPA