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Belleza is a small archipelago in the South Pacific. Despite the small size of the country and its location close to the Equator, the two main islands have high mountains, granting the country an astounding diversity of ecosystems, varying from tropical coastlines to temperate forests on the highlands (mesas). After 20 years of civil unrest and a dozen changes in Government between democratic and authoritarian factions, the country has suffered a prolonged recession because of the sever decline tourism attributable to a few over-reported armed partisan conflicts that have accompanied some of the changes from one faction to the other.
The most recent authoritarian regime, which has the backing of the leadership of the country's relatively small police and defense forces, seeks to reinvigorate tourism in order to improve its general financial situation and allow it to strengthen its own grip on the country. The country has an enormous potential to explore in Ecotourism, and the Government has created a “Special Tourism Region” in the island of Pequena Belleza, the second largest of the archipelago. Companies interested in operating in the region must be associated with a local, government-licensed arranger. The capital city of Belleza, Cartagena, is located on the largest island of the archipelago: Grande Belleza.
The tourism industry infrastructure in Belleza is not very developed yet, and investment is extremely necessary in order to create conditions to meet the growing demand in this up-and-coming destination.
Higashiyama Tours is a tourist company based in Japan, subsidiary of Easthills Tours, headquartered in the U.S. The company is specialized in Ecotourism. Japanese tourists do not mind paying more for their tours in exchange of comfort, safety, high quality in services and attention to details. Higashiyama Tours provides them pre-booked tours, high qualified guides and precise schedules, so that they do not have to worry about a thing in their vacation. With a client portfolio composed of young, affluent families, interested in exotic and adventurous destinations, but keeping comfort, safety and high quality in services; Higashiyama Tours has a reputation of providing fun and exotic tours with attention to comfort, quality and safety to the last detail.
GMC Services is one of the few government-licensed operators in Belleza, and is associated with Higashiyama Tours to provide hotel stays, airport pickup, and arrange tours in the beautiful forests, rivers and beaches of Pequena Belleza. The contract between the two companies determines that Higashiyama is responsible for the advertising and sales of packages to Belleza. Those packages include airport pickups, hotel fares, meals, guided hiking tours in the jungle, kayaking tours with instructors, entrance fees to National Parks, and guided scuba-diving sessions in the coral reefs. Air tickets are arranged between Higashiyama and a Japanese airline, and are not included in the contract.
On September 2006 Higashiyama sent a group of 28 Japanese tourists to enjoy summer in Pequena Belleza (It is ALWAYS summer in Belleza…). GMC sent the airport pickup to receive the tourists. Due to a misunderstanding in the reservation between GMS and the Hotel in Paraiso, there were only rooms for the 5 couples and the 4 families in the hotel. The other 4 single tourists had to be lodged in another improvised hostel.
The four tourists complained the rooms were dirty, poorly kept and old, with mold on the walls and sheets, and funny smells in the bathrooms.
During the hike in the jungle included in the package, the Japanese-speaking guide got lost in the jungle. Although only for some 20 minutes (he quickly found his way back to the designated trail), and despite his best efforts not to let anyone to notice, the tourists noticed the flaw, but since the incident was fast, said nothing in the occasion.
All those problems would have been let off if it wasn’t for another unfortunate incident. In the kayak tour, the guide/instructor, under the insistence of a 11 and a 13-year-old girls who became friends in the trip, put the two teenagers in the same double kayak, although safety norms determine that riders under the age of 16must be accompanied by an adult. During the tour, the girls took a wrong turn in the river and entered a dangerous rapids zone. However, one of them miraculously managed to grab a tree branch and cried for help. Both girls came back to the hotel shaken, but unharmed.
Back in Japan, the tourists decided to file a complaint against Higashiyama Tours, and the company expressed its deep regrets and apologies for all the incidents, returned the money for the tours and the four single hotel rooms and promised to take measure so that such unfortunate things never happen again in the future. The total amount Higashiyama returned to the clients was 3,200,000 Japanese Yen.
Higashiyama Tours intends to recover the money returned to the tourists from GMC, the parties have scheduled a videoconference session to discuss the problem.
Secret Facts Higashiyama Tours.
The people in Easthills Headquarters are not happy with the scratch in the Higashiyama Tours reputation with its Japanese clientele. They consider nothing but luck the fact that the incident could be resolved by a settlement and did not escalate into a full legal action by the group of clients.
Higashiyama is the main overseas operation Easthills has, and guaranteeing a strong position in the Japanese market is fundamental for its business. Belleza is an up-and-coming destination among Japanese tourists and it is fundamental for Higashiyama to guarantee its operations there.
Easthills CEO has contacted another firm in Belleza to substitute GMC, but this other firm is not yet licensed by the Government and a new license is likely to require a lot more money in hiring local consultants with connections to the Government and a bit of a wait. Although the decision is to change the local operator in the medium term, the relationship with GMC must be preserved for now.
Your job is to recover at least a part of the money returned to the tourists, maintaining the business relationship with GMC, and to get a guarantee that such problems will not happen in the future. You must not give away the possibility of a new deal with the other operator: GMC is one of the only licensed operators in the moment and if GMC finds out about it may disrupt the fragile negotiations with the very corrupt bureaucrats in Cartagena.
Secret Facts GMC
GMC desperately needs the Higashiyama/Easthills business. In order to renew its licenses, GMC needs strong foreign currency to keep up its connections with consultants who have influence on the Government. The flaw in the hotel accommodations was due to a mistake by a GMC secretary but Higashiyama/Easthills thinks it was the hotel’s fault.
The kayak incident meant a serious infringement to Belleza’s tourism safety regulations and could have resulted in the termination of GMC’s license if it wasn’t for the aid of the minister of tourism whose wife's sister is in the tourism consulting business and was hired by GMC to assist with tour arrangements at $3,000 US a month.
The Higashiyama's tour director who accompanied the group of tourists from Japan was over heard as she talked with some of them in the hotel bar to say that GMC was a good company but that it had to pay bribes to make arrangements with the Government. This unfortunate statement got back to the minister of tourism's sister and to the minister who were both offended at the implications that she was not providing valuable publicity and liaison services and was some how a conduit for a bribe while in fact been working with the tourism promotion staff of the ministry and the news media to coordinate publicity for the tourism that GMC was bringing to the country and with members of the tourism committee of the legislative assembly to keep them informed of the good work that GMC was doing to bring tourists into the country.
GMC does not intend to lose anymore money to this issue than it already has, but it needs Higashiyama/Easthills to contract tourists from both Japan and the USA.
There is rumor that other firms are trying to get a license unto the Ministry, but GMC has strong connections and knows a new license would require spending significantly more money to reinforce those connections. If a new operator contracts with Higashiyama/Easthills, it would put GMC out of business; in this case, coming public on the impropriety of some of their dealings would be an option. However, if GMC wants to continue existing as a company, such deals must be dealt with discreetly.
Jeff, thanks for joining in this discussion.
Your comment and question are insightful. What I had in mind is an opportunity for those who are more into communication technology to learn more about mediation styles, including the building of trust and the role of apology for example, and for those who are more into style to learn more about communication technology, that is doing what they do at a distance with an assist from technology.
Perhaps, in terms of platforms, we should consider whether the discussion itself during Cyberweek should progress through various modes of communication, text, audio, visual, in both real time and not real time, perhaps as a series of conversations during the week, and depending on what available resources permit ... so that the participants are immersed in the look and feel of what they are talking about as they talk.
Again thanks for pitching in, John
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