Things get screwed up.  I know because I was a head office brand guy in a previous life.

This is the impressive new RIU Guanacaste luxury hotel near where I live.  It opens on November 1st.  For those who do not know Costa Rica during the rainy season (low season in tourist areas), a new 600 room luxury hotel opening 20 minutes away from where I live is super-exciting. They’ve built a brand new road to a previously hard-to-get-to beach, where my wife and I hope to frequent Guanacaste’s finest only Oriental fusion restaurant.

Not in Coco

Not in Coco

Unfortunately, the official RIU website is telling potential customers that this property is next to a supermarket about 2km from the beach.  I even lost a bet with my wife who was right about the assumption that people wouldn’t open a 5 star hotel next to a heavily (armed) guarded hardware store far away from a beach.  And about 9km away from the actual hotel.

Riu’s website says the hotel is here:

Riu's website says the beach resort is here

Webmaster typed in "Coco" and posted this location

When in fact it’s in the middle of this map (where you see “Matapalo”):

It's actually in the centre of this map where it says "Matapalo"

It's actually 7km away from the RIU sign

I’m writing to the Riu webmaster in Spain and the local hotel manager to see if they can get this fixed before opening day.  Following up with brand managers and other people at the various companies mentioned will be a regular feature on this blog.  Hopefully we get some good responses which will of course be posted.

The moral of today’s post is that head office people at any company see things from their computers and the limited phone calls they get and make.  They’re busy people with global responsibility, and the main local visibility and understanding they get is from the town the head office is in.

Websites look better when they’re run from one location.  Brands are more consistent when they’re run from one head office. But that doesn’t make those brands better. Unless head office teams develop great links and talk frequently with people running the local operations (and vice versa), good brands can look very average.

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