Efforts by a group of Puerto Rican entrepreneurs to increase the sales of local products and services to the international cruise industry represent a proactive step that should be replicated in several sectors of the economy.
The cruise industry in the Caribbean leaves 7 million in annual purchases in Puerto Rico. According to the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association Annual Conference (FCCA), which brings together the industry leading executives, this investment could be even higher through new approaches stressing on the quality and diversity of our local products, among other elements.
The Puerto Rico Tourism Company has stressed that local companies have experience in providing products or services to different cruise lines that visit Puerto Rico, but it is a market that can be further developed. Today we must take on this challenge with determination.
There are local tour companies that –intermittently- reach commercial agreements with international cruise companies. Local beverage and food producers have recently signed contracts with these companies. That is the case of Tres Monjitas, which supplies products to Royal Caribbean.
New opportunities are mapped out and should not be ignored. In this regard, it is appropriate to examine consistent efforts by local entrepreneurs who have been exporting their products to the south of the United States for years.
The experience of those who explore, for example, the Central Florida market – bringing Puerto Rican products and services to the diaspora and other customers in that state – gains strength with strategic moves that allow us to learn more about characteristics and needs of that market and its doing business conditions.
Local entrepreneurs who diversify their marketing strategies are sharing knowledge and support with their peers. Even entities led by Puerto Ricans to boost confidence as a pillar of promising business expansion have emerged from these efforts.
The Puerto Rico to Orlando Strategist is one of those entities. This organization offers guidance to Puerto Rican entrepreneurs by facilitating contacts with attorneys, marketing experts, real estate consultants and other experts to explore the possibility of exporting products or services to Florida. This entity has promoted the franchise model. With their support, directors of companies such as Vaca Brava, Congratulations and Señor Paleta have studied scenarios to land on the U.S. market.
Some are inspired by a first group that, driven by a genuine desire for innovation, service, and growth, has already reached successful business operations in Florida. This group includes Puerto Rican companies such as El Mesón restaurant chain, Global Mattress and Casa Febus, which in the past didn’t necessarily envision operations outside the island.
Promotional initiatives confirmed by a dozen local entrepreneurs participating in the FCCA conference focused on innovation and marketing, represent a proactive approach that more Puerto Rican entrepreneurs should welcome along with products and services that might be of interest to Caribbean and U.S. industries.
The opportunity for expansion is shaped by recognizing a space of new commercial possibilities. It will be necessary to design a model to maintain quality controls and manage aspects of competitiveness in a foreign market. Innovative business logistics will be vital to open doors to new business opportunities.
Designing and implementing solid strategies to help our entrepreneurs to successfully establish in strong markets will be more than appropriate. This calls for the government to renew its support for Puerto Rican businesses to strengthen and diversify their products and services beyond our coasts.