Evolution or death, that’s how the history of mankind has always been like since dinosaurs to date. Species that have roamed our planet ever since have evolved. Yet there are organizations in this Caribbean of ours that refuse to do so and look the other way. These organizations play in the hands of their former power, downplay their traditions and think that everything will stay the same way. They believe solutions will come someday as time ticks by. That’s simply a blunder, and just like dinosaurs did, they will also die down if they rebuff transformation. Maybe they could survive if they decide to transform themselves later, or perhaps they could wind up confined on a small island called Jurassic Park.

On the contrary, there are other organizations –like the Caribbean Hotel Association (CHA)- whose leadership seeks to make over the institution from within, that try to revamp its goals and set out to look for new markets.

The brilliant work conducted by Simon Suarez and his team of renovating vice presidents, based on the experience of director-general Alec Sanguinetti, makes this organization an example worth following. Only those who stubbornly stick to failed policies and have never evolved from a standpoint of market structure and conception, those who snub the future as a learning experience, those who don’t turn new markets into new safe havens and do not put their smart money in the future, those who decline to see how their offspring evolve and refuse to give them a leg up, those who can’t admit when they do wrong, will eventually follow in the footsteps of dinosaurs.

However, this is not only happening to Caribbean organizations, but also to many other countries around the globe that, so used to having in the United States as their biggest market, turn down the possibility of opening up to other countries that might someday be a good complement and a major source of income for their countries. Only in times of catastrophes, like the Persian Gulf War and the 9/11 terrorist attacks, they stick their heads out coyly and look around whining about the dire straits the travel market is in, that same market that puts bread on their people’s tables. This situation should also be assessed by certain entrepreneurs from these countries, businesspeople who only care for their short-term outcomes and revenues, and make short shrift of research and investment in new nations.

As we all know, fair attendance is a key promotional element. But that pans out to be worthless without a basic follow-up strategy, if we do not publish newsletters and brochures to local languages and everything is all Greek to those readers. How can we tell them about the good things our hotels and countries have to offer? ITB continues to be the largest fair on earth, followed by Spain’s FITUR. The latter not only opens up Spain for the whole world to see –as many people think- but also gives us a one-and-only window of opportunity toward the Americas. Thus, purchasers from Europe and elsewhere attending the fair look here for what they can’t find anywhere else.

That’s why evolution or death is not only music to the ears. It’s a wakeup call, a topic to mull over, and above all, a present challenge for the future.

Jose Carlos de Santiago