Upon arriving in Aruba, my taxi driver mentioned that Aruba has a 50% visitor return rate and that Aruba is considered the timeshare capital of the Caribbean. Aruba is definitely one happy island and there’s something that keeps attracting people to it. I was on an undercover mission to find out why.
Less Competition, more teamwork
After coming off the Atlantis Submarine, my sister Shirley and I went to the gift shop to receive our dive certificate. I started a conversation with the manager to ask about their souvenirs. He asked what I was looking for, and without hesitation, suggested I go to a specific store with affordable prices. This was the first time I experienced this kind of interaction, but it wasn’t the last. The staff on the Red Sail Aruba sailboats also encouraged activities outside of their company offerings. Almost all service providers and retailers seemed to be working toward one goal: get people to spend money on the island, no matter if it’s their own store or not.
Top notch customer service
Every service provider or retailer I came into contact with smiled, put my needs first and offered more than what was asked or expected. One moment stood out to me the most. While at De Palm Island, the manager of the place offered Shirley and me complimentary underwater tours. The reason behind why? I’m still not sure. But over time I slowly picked up hints of why this island was so popular among tourists.
Arubans are required to learn four languages in school: English, Spanish, Dutch, and Papiamento. I came into contact with several who also spoke Portuguese, Italian and French. Ultimately, Arubans are able to communicate with at least 900 million people around the world (English + Spanish speakers.) Imagine the impact this can have on their ability to cater to various cultures.
With tourism being the biggest industry on the island, I imagine their approach to competition, customer service, and communication, aren’t the only parts that set Aruba up for success every single day. Each year 1.5 million people visit, the island continues to see growth in tourism and has won dozens of marketing awards in the past two years – ultimately making it the most digitally popular country in the Caribbean.
3 Characteristics that make a great startup
As we can see here, there are clear similarities between what makes Aruba great and what makes a successful startup/company. Internal competition within companies often leads to the creation of functional chimneys that then affect the culture of the company as a whole. By fostering teamwork in a company, this can directly lead to an increase in the bottom line as departments now get to work together: get people to spend money on the island, no matter if it’s their own store or not. This collaborative culture leads to happier employees, and therefore a better customer service: Every service provider or retailer I came into contact with smiled, put my needs first and offered more than what was asked or expected.
Last but not least, diverse teams are smarter, and diverse companies tend to perform better. We can make a parallel here between Aruban’s ability to communicate in multiple languages with what would be seen in a diverse team at a company. This versatility in communication skills showcased by Arubans allows them to cater to a more diverse crowd, and this ability to cater to the needs of more than 900 million people really makes Aruba a “great startup”.
See more photos of the adventures Shirley and I went on.
Or see a visual story of my trip: