Southwest Airlines is looking for a few good reasons to visit Belize.
The U.S. airline will begin daily flights to Belize in October, from Houston. And anyone who knows Southwest knows this airline doesn’t do anything unless it is fun. If you’ve ever had the good fortune to land on a Southwest flight when the safety speech is given by a budding stand-up comic you’ll know what I mean.
Southwest likes creative employees. Heck, it simply likes its employees (and I think they are called team members, or something like that). My friend and neighbor in San Diego for many years was a Southwest flight attendant who rose through the ranks to become a recruiter and trainer among other duties for the airline. Wayne Toups loved the airline and loved going to work every day.
Like the famous Cajun singer Wayne Toups, he was from Louisiana and he had a ball with their common name. Believe it or not, passengers would ask Wayne, handing out drinks and peanuts while clad in the khaki shorts and polo shirt uniform of Southwest, if he was the singer!
When Southwest began as a regional airline at Love Field in Dallas, the big boys — both the major airlines and their friends in Congress — did their damnedest to drive it into the ground — including a major congressman from their own state! Southwest not allowed to make direct flights to cities in other states. They had to do something weird like make a stop in another Texas city first — or something like that. They were sometimes forced to use secondary airports and land in lower tier cities.
Ultimately whatever the challenge, Southwest turned it into an advantage. And opened up the door for other short-haul carriers. It truly is the aspirational and inspirational airline.
That’s why I think they will make it in Belize.
It is the perfect pairing of two scrappy underdogs.
Does Southwest really need our help coming up with ways to lure visitors to Belize?
Probably not. It has a long history of brilliant marketing.
Just the same, reaching out and asking (a form of marketing in itself), is classic Southwest. Just as every employee of the airline is empowered to be brilliant and inventive, so is every community that it serves. Southwest employees are encouraged to come up with ideas to make the airline better. Of course, the key is to listen to those ideas and act on them. I got the impression from Wayne that that is exactly what Southwest does. It listens.
So, the airline has sent a talent scout of sorts to Belize to hunt for fresh ideas. His name is Brad Hawkins and to the best of my knowledge, no relation. Our friend (and yours) Rebecca Coutant of San Pedro Scoop met with Hawkins the other day, as did other local media.
Rebecca is taking a page from Southwest’s gameplan and turning around and asking you, the experts on Belize, for your ideas. I think you should read her post and send her your best shots.
There is one challenge. Everyone has been flogging the same 10 to 30 reasons to visit Belize for years. Basically it is blueholemayanruinscavetubingecoadventuressandybeachesreefsnorkelinggarifunadrummingjerkchickendrop. And then some.
And they are all legit.
And for people who have never heard of Belize — and they are many — those are fresh ideas. The thing is, how do you present them in a fresh new way? Southwest-Belize adventure package deals? A Belize scavenger hunt — getting stamps in your Southwest-Belize Adventure Passport gets you valuable upgrades and free trips?
A variation on the Southwest “Gotta get away?” campaign would suit Belize nicely.
Let’s face it: Cancun or Disneyland is a vacation; Belize is “getting away.”
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