Seaside University is where people employed by Seaside Reservations in Rocky Point receive the company´s on-going training. Pilar Iturralde administers the educational programs here. One day in her office, I noticed copies of a book stacked at the edge of her desk, as if people were supposed to take one. “These are for our managers” says Pilar. I ask if I can borrow one, to better understand the perspective a manager has at Seaside.
“Well, if you are interested, there is also this one” she says, walking over to a large book shelf. “These too . . .” Now it seems I have a reading assignment! Luckily, they all look like pretty interesting titles.
Seaside Reservations manages properties in some of Mexico´s most beautiful and well known tourist destinations. Play del Carmin, Puerto Vallarta, San Carlos, and as of this year, San Jose del Cabo. Rocky Point too, of course. This is where the company started, and where many of the best local resorts fly the Sea Side banner (Bella Sirena, Sonoran Sun, and Princesa de Penasco to name a few).
As the ´front desk´ for vacationers, as well as the company managing individual rental properties (condos as well as beach front homes), Seaside really has two kinds of customers to think about. Rated number one in Mexico for owner and guest satisfaction since 2001, Sea Side relies on a Certified five star rating system, confirmed by guest surveys.
To be that consistent in delivering what people want, you have to stay on top of things. But the first step is getting everyone who works here on the same page about what will make a customer give that glowing review. Seaside University is where this gets communicated. My armful of books inspired me to see where the ideas come from that Seaside implements to get the results it does. Follow along as we uncover cutting edge concepts for creating the highest customer satisfaction possible.
“This is the one to start with” says Pilar. She hands me a copy of The Apple Experience, by author Carmine Gallo. Welcome to the Sea Side Book Club!
Apple is a company that does a lot of things right. We all know their inovative products, the Ipad, Mac, Ipod, Iphone etc. The Apple Experience by Carmine Gallo focuses on Apple´s retail stores, famous for earning more per square foot than any other retailer. Do any other computer manufacturers even have retail stores these days? At a time when you can buy anything on the internet, or from a big box store, why even bother?
Apple uses the stores as an oportunity to encourage the fanaticism a lot of people feel towards Apple products. Sales and service are intended to be an event that rises above the ordinary. The Apple Experience focuses on three strategies the company uses when focusing on how to satisfy customers to an extreme degree.
1.Setting the Stage by leaving nothing to chance in the store environment. Customers see, touch, and learn all they want while in the store.
2.Serve your external customers not by just handing them the lowest cost, generic solution. Involve them in finding all the things that they can do with an Apple product. Things they want to do, and things they did not know that they could.
3. Inspire your internal customers, i.e. your employees. This portion of the book is what Sea Side managers focus on.
Building a successful team includes hiring people for their positive attitudes, as much or more so than for the specific skills they already have. The company presents it´s people with the concept that Apple´s reason for existing is not to sell computers, but to enrich peoples lives when they use their products. That´s a pretty lofty goal, and the company takes pains to hire people who really are motivated to make it a reality.
Obviously, all of the concepts in The Apple Experience can be applied to any business. Easier said than done though. One thing stands out as the possible ´glue´ that makes everything work so well for Apple. And that´s feedback.
Feedback is a less in-your-face way to say ´criticism´. And people hate it! A lot of trust has to be in place for criticism to to be substantial, without being a threat. The book goes into how Steve Jobs himself thrived on feedback. In fact, a goal at Apple is to create employees who are fearless about presenting contrary opinion. Even to the boss himself. Taking the sting out of criticism allows people to speak their mind. It really is the only way to improve.
A pretty quick read, The Apple Experience is by an author with a history of writing successful business titles. It shows in his balance of presenting just enough memorable concepts without being repetitive, and including lots of engaging stories that illustrate the points being made. Sea Side strives to make this kind of intellegence a part of what it does every day. No small task. But the rating that clients both inside and outside of the company give it show that it is on the right track.
You can reach Seaside Reservations at