Episode 9 – John Beckley

Ladies and gentlemen, this is Tim Dowd for living with ms. In Tenerife. And today we have a treat for you. We have John Dale, Beckley, who is a neighbor and friend of mine, and he is the digital marketing guy. Hi John.

Hi Tim.

So thank you very much for this interview. I know that I’ve been hounding you quite a while for this, and I know you’re a very busy man, so I’m glad that it happened in the end.

Yeah. So what I’d like to do is ask you a couple of questions. You can answer them anywhere you like. And at the end you can say hi to whoever you like sound like a deal. Good,

good. I’m ready.

So my first question to everybody is how did you end up in Tenerife, and what did you actually do before you got here?

I was in South Africa. I was studying, so I finished school and then I was studying marketing and business management. And my brother bought Pearly Grey Ocean Club in Callao Salvaje. And he asked me to come over and help with it. So I came over 20 years ago. I’ve been here 20 years now. And when I came up, I stayed with him in the, in the hotel working for three years.

And then afterwards I broke away to start my own digital marketing company. And we did web design. Well, in the beginning, we were doing web design with Flash, you know, we’d, you could have the airplane flying across the screen. Okay. And, uh, and then people were saying to me, okay, well, how do we get an index in the search engines?

And then I said, then I looked it up. And the search engines didn’t index Flash. So that was a problem. So we then kind of went into search engine marketing and moved away from kind of design. And we focused on search engine marketing for real estate. And we kind of, we did a long period of time working with databases and search engine rankings for real estate pre 2008 crash.

That’s what I was working on. And then after the crash, I went to lends Rotty for five years. And I was working with a Sandy beach resort as the marketing manager. And, uh, I increased the direct bookings there from five to 30%. Um, it wasn’t just me, but the team kind of took on the project of increasing direct bookings.

And we were focusing on building the community around social media and rankings in the search engines and trying to take the business back off the OTA, which would have dominated and monopolized everything.

And you succeeded.

We did in that case. Yeah, we did. I mean, obviously we put live chat on the reservation pages.

We answered real time. We answered in the evenings to convert sales. So we did a lot of things that were in social media, but that helped with the direct bookings. Yeah.

So before you actually got here, you said you were in school in South Africa. So did you have a career in South Africa? You came straight, fresh faced.

I went straight off to school. I went to England to coach cricket. Okay. I started coaching Exeter cathedral school. I coached Chris Martin from Coldplay. Okay. That’s the only name I can drop then I’ve just dropped it. So how much of Chris Martin remembers me? So, yeah, but he was a really nice little kid.

He was 12 years old when I was coaching him and a really nice boy. And so I spent a year there. Then I went back to South Africa and studied for, for three and a half years.

So actually coming to Tenerife was main well, it’s mainly because the family was here. Your brother got the Pearly Grey. And so when you got here, did you like the place immediately or did it have to grow on you?

After, in the first five years? I was here. I had to leave the Island every six months. Because I just felt claustrophobic and, and now, now I’m totally at home. Yeah. But I remember in the beginning it was difficult to get settled and to stay here because you are on a small Island and you don’t have that.

So think you can drive for 24 hours from one side of the country to another.

Yeah. I used to have a car like that.

So it’s growing on you now?


So your business at the moment, has you, have you had any influence with the, the virus or the COVID if you had to shut down the business or of your customers dried up, or how did that affect


You? There?

Well, I had two main clients, the golf Costa Adeje and Pearly Gray, and I’m on the first day of shutdown, Golf Costa Adeje canceled my contract until they reopen and Pearly Grey called me in and said, how can we communicate with our guests?

Extra during this period. And in our first month we got 62,000 views on our videos during COVID, which is a big success for us because we are only a small resort. And what we did is we did a campaign where we got all the staff to make videos at home and send it in. So it was very rough and ready, but the people loved to see the staff at home and, and the communication was, uh, and the engagement was excellent.


So you it’s an ocean club. So does that mean that you have owners there or do people sort of rents Willy nilly?

Yeah. So it’s a hotel with Timeshare. So you’ve got holiday ownership where people live only for 20 years. Okay. And then you have the hotels, which you can book through booking.com. So you have the combination.

Okay. Is booking.com the way to go or is there an, is there a website

on the website? PearlyGrey.com

PearlyGrey.com. Okay. So if anybody wants to come and have a look or a spend a week or two weeks. You’re open when,

and we haven’t announced it in official


Okay. No

announced above it. There’s a lot of people I think, in the hotel business now that are still not announcing, right?

Yeah. I mean, that comes to my next question really as a sort of an insider, um, a lot of our listeners are wanting to come over and, you know, everything’s opening up again today and the first and the last thing they asked me, and the first thing they asked me is when can we come? So in your mind, without giving the game away for anything, when do you think that we’re going to, first of all, start.

Accepting holiday makers. And secondly, when’s it going to get back to so called normal?

I think August, we’re going to see a lot of places start to open and function, but I think October would be another, another wave because we get there kind of winter a group coming, but it’ll be next year. I think. Even into next year, it’ll be, um, we’re going to see the effects of COVID.

Okay. So you think that might be a second wave on the Island? Cause we’ve been pretty good here with the lockdown. So we’ve kept it to a minimum on Tenerife, at least

because we’re an island and we’re kind of isolated. Yeah. But I do think there’s going to be a problem with all the tourists start coming back.


It’s going to be hard to identify COVID in these years. So really we’re going to need a vaccine or something to, to level the site.

So let’s assume now that jet two, for instance, are going to start flying on the 15th of July, according to their website. Um, I don’t know where the Siam park or Loro park are going to open this summer.

Uh there’s I’ve not heard anything about that.

Yeah. I don’t even know if they’re allowed to open. Um, I know the golf course is only looking at October sometime.


Yeah. Okay. So Tenerife Top Training, the sports training center October, they, they talking about.

So really if anybody’s coming over earlier, there’s not going to be a lot of stuff open.

So if you come in for a nice jaunt along the promenade and a couple of beers in the evening, that’s fine. But if you’re looking to come for an adventure holiday and golfing and dancing and discos, that’s probably not going to happen till later in this year or even next year.

And I think people will know.

A be trying to avoid big, big, uh, distance, uh, tourist trips, like Las Americas and Los Cristianos. So the big hotels, the big buffets, um, they might find a village, like Callao Salvaje more appealing with self-catering apartments, like at pearly gray where you it’s quiet, not as much people around you can eat in the kitchen, maybe eat out once or twice at a restaurant that’s safe.

And I think the resorts all need to say what they’re doing to make everything clean and safe. Just to reassure everyone. So I think it’s going to be hard for the big hotels, with the big buffets that are set up the way they’ve been doing it for 30 years. It’s going to be hard for them to change the model.

Well, I heard a couple of days ago that one of the models on the buffet is going to be that the plates are actually plated up in the kitchen. And you only just go and get a plate. You can’t even decide what’s going to be on it. So one of our followers commented and said her husband’s so fernickerty that he probably won’t find anything to eat.

So I think self catering is probably going to be the way to go and even supporting our local restaurants is going to be good. I think for us,

Yeah, I think, I mean, I’m a little bit disappointed in looking at everyone that they’re not being more creative, like with delivery at home, like, evolving with the times of what’s.

Um, you know, it was pretty great. I’m just talking to the EcoFarm and Guia de Isora. I can’t remember the name now.

Finca Caldera.

Yeah. Uh, so we’re talking about. Maybe delivering that people can order it online, the owners, and they can deliver it on Friday. Cause most of the change over days for us, our Fridays is, and we then put it in the rooms for them in the fridge.

So they come back and they’ve got eco fresh vegetables. Um, so that’s a starting point for them, you know?

Okay. So, so yeah, what you’re saying is. Creativeness is, is, comes out of necessity.


And okay, that’s good. I noticed that there’s quite a few of the restaurants in town, still not yet open. And they were typically the restaurants that were catering towards the tourists.

So the local bars that were catering to local people are, have opened, but a lot of the others not and also down Las Americas Fanabe, in fact, Los Cristianos. Um, do you think that some of those bars and restaurants are going to stay shut?

Yeah. Yup,

because it’s going to take it. They can’t survive already.

Now it’s putting so much pressure on them because it’d been three months close and let’s say it’s another three months. And then let’s say it before we get up to full work, it’s going to be another three months then how are they going to survive all this time without, so I think a lot of waitresses and waiters are going to be laid off.

A lot of the restaurants won’t open. I think a lot of. like young Italians that are here are going to go back to mommy and daddy in Italy. And it will free up a lot of the rental property, which will bring the prices down. I think this will be a knock on effect. Uh, but it’s my opinion.

A lot of people mean as, as we always say in all these podcasts.

So we can only talk from our hearts. Um, I have, they have a similar, a similar. Vision of the future as that maybe we’re going to go for a better quality, uh, offer. Uh, but obviously that’s going to mean it’s going to be a bit more expensive. I was slated online for saying you don’t want the poor people anymore.

And you know, that work really hard for it. And I said, it’s not that I don’t want poor people. It’s just, all I’m saying is that it’s better. If you come. Uh, biggest spend per visit is better economically for us. And we can then at least pay our people. So a decent wage

and for sustainability, I think, um, what we don’t want to do is hit towards a, Benidorm factor where it’s a concrete jungle, and we just doing mass tourism that that’s not interesting for anyone.

I think we’ll destroy the other market. So I agree with you. It needs to become better quality, better quality experiences on the excursions, not the big bus around the Island, but maybe. Personalized Jeep Safari tours with smaller groups of Jeeps that are, so I think all of that more personalized, better quality, higher price.

Jumping off a mountain. Yeah. Going into a helicopter.

Yeah. Yeah. Doing stuff that, that people come back and go, Oh my God. What an amazing holiday, rather than just selling a sun bed and a room and a swimming pool.

And what about multinational companies like inviting top managers over for conferences? Do you think that that there’s going to be a market for that here maybe?

Or is the one already that I don’t know about?

Well, the problem was before was the hotels were all full and they couldn’t book these big conferences. Cause, you know, they were trying to position the Tenerife as the center between Africa, Europe, and America. But that couldn’t happen because places like magma were built, but then they didn’t know where the house, them all.

So they couldn’t order these big conferences because people couldn’t be, you couldn’t get blocks of inventory at the hotels. So if you look at normal hotels, like in Las Vegas, it’s set up for conferences though, the inventory and everything is set up for these big bookings. Whereas here we selling it for tourism and then saying, okay, well, how do we book.

The conferences.

So how do we now get it to the stage where we can go and say, we’re going to open for conferences starting November conference, season, November. Um, let’s go to the Abama. Yeah, let’s go to,

I don’t know.

Well, maybe this is an opportunity for some hotels to reinvent themselves and to say we more prepared now to support conferences and doing.

I think we need to really look at the model that we can’t just be open the doors, tourism walk in, and we have it so easy.

Okay. And who’s, who’s driving that who do, if I wanted to get involved, for instance, who would I talk to? Do,

you know,

I think it’s got to come from the top from tourism. It can’t come from me or you or the hotel manager.

It’s got to come from a strategy. That’s decided, like, for example, digital nomads, people that are working here, but working for a company in New York or London, earning a lot of money, spending money in our restaurants here, where they’ve got the capital to spend a lot of money. This is an opportunity for us to really become the number one in the world for digital nomads.

So we could even convert some hotels. That digital learners can come and live for six months. One year. Periods and have a really good quality of life. And so it’s just kind of be able to reinvent ourselves. I think we need to.

Okay. So if anybody’s getting involved in that and wants to start something up, that they can get in touch with the people at the tourist office in, uh, in the Canary islands and, uh, and give us a call as well.

Cause we’d be interested.

Yeah. Yeah. I think it’s changing.

Yeah. Well, that was really interesting. That was very interesting. What I want to ask you now is how do you see yourself in the future? What’s what are your plans that you could actually share with us?

So, um, 10 years ago I started, uh, it was a project as a hobby, um, called Canarian green, uh, about sustainability, about the bioclimatic houses in ITER.

And what I wanted to do was to, um, write about sustainable project. Cause I thought the president Melcher, who was the one that was spearheading the sustainable tourism, I thought it was going to be the future. And we kind of, after that project, whet plop didn’t didn’t follow it on, but I thought I could kind of.

Position this Canary green around sustainability that was 10 years ago. And the EU brought up the latest study two years ago, saying that we need to make drastic changes. So I kind of reignited Canary green. I set up a nonprofit company. I’ve got a group of 10 people that are donating their time towards it.

We’ve done several beach cleanups. We’ve done a campaign for eat less meat. We’ve done. Um, Our sustainability meetups. So we’ve done 12 of those now with Kim, deCosta, where we meet at Golf del Sur, and we invite all sustainable companies to come and network with other sustainable companies. So I see my future being inside sustainability, inside green.

And again, I’m looking at changing and what am I doing?

Okay. And if people want to get involved in that or want more information, where can they go for that?

So canarygreen.org. Okay.

Very simple. And that is it Canarian green.org?

You can hear me. Green


Okay. Now,

is there anybody that you want to say hello to

my son?

Vincent Vinnie boy. Okay, then you just did it. Hello? Where is he now? He’s probably in them. We’re in our color, jumping off the harbour wall.

Okay. I think I’ve seen him. Yeah. I think he’s very famous there. John. That’s be great talking to you. So I’d like to thank you very much. And if you want to get any more information, I’ll just make sure that all the links are in the description and you don’t forget.

You can go to our website, www.timothydowd.com and look at the whole information there on the blog. So, thank you very much and until next time.

Thank you. Thanks sir. Bye bye. Cheers. Bye.

Well, I hope you enjoyed that and don’t forget to contact me if you’ve got any questions. Sure. Thanks for tuning in. I publish every Sunday night. So subscribe to be notified. We have a Facebook. Page called living with ms in Tenerife and can be reached by searching for at LW MST. Plus we have a YouTube channel@youtubedotcomslashlwmstwithnewvideoseverytuesdayandourwebsiteatwwwdottimothydown.com.

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