Today we talked with a hotel manager, a missionary and the operations director for DHL. We also jumped off mountains and drove through downtown Quito in a bus and a private band.
We talked with Joseph Sugels the director food and beverage service at Hotel Quito about the challenges of running a hotel in Equator. Last year Hotel Quito was able to maintain 70% occupancy even though the other hotels in town have newer and fancier facilities.
Our meeting with the Joseph Sugels. I don´t take many meeting photos because they look like this one.
DHLcompetes by using a best value strategy. They are less expensive than the other hotels but they emphasize quality service and excellent food. In a country where customer service is all but non existent Hotel Quito stands out as a shining exception where the employees run not walk.
The higher you go the more photos you take.
Turbulence in the political system can cause a drop in demand for hotels and can put a strain on business. Quito is not seen as a destination town (I don’t know why, this town is amazing) which is also a challenge. Of the hotel’s business travelers, 85% are repeat customers. This number is high and shows how much customer service counts for in a nation like this.
Some of the Quito streets are very narrow.
The government keeps trying to help the economy by passing new laws and all they seem to be doing is messing it up. Governments cannot improve economies, they can only remove economic hindrances that they are put in place. One such law that is being discussed right now would make contract labor illegal.
Right now Hotel Quito has about 50 contract employees who only come in during peak times. If this law were passed many of these employees would loose their jobs and the current employees would be forced to work overtime. This would lower quality and raise unemployment.
The view from on top Hotel Quito.
The government is also raising the minimum wage which is causing inflation. Sound familiar? Our congress is making the same stupid decisions. Raising the minimum wage hurts the poor because it causes layoffs and inflation. What the point to getting a 3% raise when the cost of goods goes up by 4% and your brother in law looses his job?
Joseph Sugels is from Switzerland and has worked at hotels all over the world. His wife is from Venezuela and his daughter was born here in Ecuador. Talk about an international family. One thing we learned is that the Swiss often don’t need to get a visa because having a Swiss passport is all they need. Never going to war has cool benefits.
Phil Calvert a local home church planter with the IMB spoke to us about the Spiritual condition of the nation. Ecuador has over a 70% divorce rate and a high infidelity rate. I think this explains why the government is in shambles. Staying married even when it is difficult builds good character which is necessary for good leaders.
I don´t know what building this is but its pretty.
Phil has planted over 150 churches in the last few years and he believes that Ecuador will become not only a Christian nation but a refuge for the persecuted church from Europe.
He said the biggest obstacle keeping Christians from sharing their faith is inside their own hearts. Most of us are hypocrites and care nothing for the lost and live in sin. He encouraged us to devote our lives to God completely and talked with us about practical ways we could help the Ecuadorian economy while advancing the Gospel.
It is best not to jump off of mountains when you can´t see the bottom.
One way would be to start a consulting firm for small businesses that teaches concepts like customer service, accounting and marketing. These consultations would also open up doors for spiritual consulting as well. He said one of the biggest challenges for the economy here is that 99% of companies keep two sets of books. One they use internally and one they report to the government. This tax evasion causes taxes to be overly high to compensate and hurts honest businesses.
DHL has 70% of the international market share in rapid document delivery. UPS and FedEx may be the top togs in the states but internationally DHL is "The Man"
We met with Ivan Donoso, the director of operations, and he talked to us for a long time. Currier services face several unique challenges in Ecuador.
- Lack of security. Like Liquor’s, DHL must send cars filled with guards behind their trucks to prevent bandits.
- Unstable soil. Right now mud slides have taken out several important roads all over Ecuador and this has made delivery difficult.
- The Ecuadorian government.
The Ecuadorian government is continually changing the rules regarding imports and exports. The most recent rules took effect on February 2nd and were released on Feb 15th. That’s right. They took effect before they were released. So importers had to comply with rules when they didn’t even know what they were.
A DHL saleswoman.
Ivan Donoso said he had been at work since 4am and would stay until 10pm or so and that this had been his routine since the new rules came in place. The system is so convoluted that even the customs officials don’t know what is going on.
That superman looking man is actaully just a guy named Josh. My roomate.
If there is one thing I have learned on this trip is that government needs to stay out of the way as much as possible. Tweaking the economy is not a just role for government and it is not one in which governments are well positioned to do.
After we visited DHL we went up a gondola to a high mountain sitting 15,000 feet. We could see the whole city and could watch planes land below us, a weird sight.
Going up the Gondala was more traumatic for some.
The view made it all worth it.
Jumping at high altitudes is fun. But, my knees still hurt from the climb. The ninja looking person in the middle is actually one of my professors. I love UMHB.
Thursday night we took a Chiva through the town. A Chiva is the ultimate party buss with its very own band and everything. We did a lot of shouting while we drove through the historic district. This is normally done only in December for Ecuadorian Independence Day but tourists do it year round. It was a lot of fun.
The drummer boy was only probably only 7 years old, but he was really good.
Another important looking building. We didn´t have a tour guide but it kind of looks like a court house to me.