In Brazil every kid starts playing street football very early. It’s in our blood. As a professional I started at Sao Cristovao in the city of Rio de Janeiro. Of course I also played in the beach soccer league, barefoot. – Ronaldo
I have been staying in Rio de Janeiro for the past 5 days on business and have fallen in love with the city. Spectacular scenery, mountains and harbour, lush vegetation all around, and of course the “Cariocas” as the Rio people are called. Rio is pretty much the opposite of Sao Paulo; laid back, fun loving, warm, friendly. As one of my new business partners said: “In Sao Paolo they live to work but in Rio we work to live!”
There’s lots of good news in this beautiful city that is being propelled by the booming Brazilian economy. But there are also some opportunities disguised as challenges and I don’t believe the Brazilian government and the officials in Rio see the real danger in their recent success.
If you don’t already know, Brazil will be hosting both the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games. A great opportunity for the world to visit Brazil and of course one of the places everyone must go is Rio!
What is the government doing to get ready to give the world a positive experience? Like most host nations they are focusing on building physical venues – sports arenas, competition grounds, swimming venues, etc. Lots of money being spent and big contracts being awarded.
But venues are only a part of the overall Olympic experience. My concern for Brazil is not just adequate venues and infrastructure, but the equally important “visitor experience”. The good news is the government has cracked down on street crime and is winning that war. And buses seem to be new and everywhere. And the taxis must be kept clean (inside and out) and taken off the road and fixed if they have body damage. So far, great.
But there’s another challenge that seems be ignored. The taxi drivers speak only Portuguese and only a very few speak Spanish. Almost none speak English, French, Chinese, etc. And in my 5 day experience, unless you are in a taxi with locals who speak Portuguese and know the city, the taxi drivers are less than “honest”; pretending to get lost and winding up adding about double to your bill by taking the long way around. In a word, the customer experience of taxis in Rio is not Olympic standard.
What percentage of the cost of the games is the Brazilian government going to put into the visitor experience? The good news is there is still time to turn this once in a lifetime tourist opportunity for the country into a great experience for everyone that will put Rio, Sao Paolo and Brazil on the global tourist map.
And I see a great business opportunity for an innovative company capable of providing effective and efficient language instruction combined with technology and training for the taxi drivers and the rest of the hospitality industry in Rio.
Tight Lines . . .
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