Rapport! We have a personal relationship with our clients and are available on-site for specific needs. Our clients appreciate face-to-face interaction, unlike many concierges who are remote. We go to the venues and check on them or call and text to see how their trip is going.
As part of my series “How To Create A Travel Experience That Keeps People Coming Back For More,” I enjoyed interviewing Jerry Justin Alexidor.
Jerry Justin Alexidor was born to two Haitian parents in Brooklyn, New York. Alexidor was living in Los Angeles, California, working in the music business for over ten years but was getting par tired of the business practices in the music industry, so he was looking for a career change. He started Black Zama, formally known as Black Tulum, with his business partner Charles Duncan, who is from Brooklyn and currently based in Los Angeles. Black Zama was created out of Alexidor and Duncan’s love of travel, new cultures, networking, and giving a platform for Black travelers to explore an area of Mexico that quickly became his home.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us what brought you to this specific career path?
It was February 202, and I lived in Los Angeles, working in the music business. I was moving from Studio City to downtown LA in the arts district, but my apartment would be ready on March 1st. I lived with one of my best friends until his wife became pregnant. I wanted to give them space since I knew the family would be flying in to visit them, so I decided to take a trip until my apartment became ready. I debated London and Tulum, and my friend emphatically recommended I go to Tulum. So I took his advice and went to Tulum. While in Tulum, the US shut down the borders due to the pandemic, so I extended my stay. While in Tulum, I explored the culture, restaurants, cenotes, party scene, and more. I also met many owners and managers of famous places such as Taboo, Rosanegra, Mambo Hookah Lounge, The Yacht Club, and more. So when the borders opened up, my colleagues and friends from the music business would recommend people to me so I could show them the places to go and things to do. It became overwhelming, so I reached out to my business partner and shared my idea of launching a travel experience company called Black Tulum.
Can you share the most exciting story that happened to you since you started your career?
I would post content about our experience and parties when starting my company. One of our parties went viral on Tik Tok, and we started gaining so much traction on social media and with followers. One day I received a DM from one of my new favorite clients and rap artist Dream Doll who said she received my contact from another of my favorite clients Tommie Lee and wanted recommendations for things to do. We connected, and I hosted her at one of my events, where she had such a great time. She posted me on her stories and said, and I quote, I found the plugin Tulum.¨ I didn’t think about it, and the following day, when I woke up, our Instagram page was trending. We had so many followers and messages from so many people. That´s the day I knew things had changed, lol.
Can you share a story about your funniest mistake when first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
One of the funniest mistakes I can remember was when I got used to pesos vs. USD conversions. I had a client who wanted to book a section at our day party we co-host at Taboo, and I did the conversion wrong. I used Google when the venue had its conversion rate, which I didńt realize. After paying for the section, I looked at my account, and the numbers were off. After speaking to management at the venue, I realized that I have been paying the difference for this and all my previous clients out of my pocket. The entire time I was losing money, thinking I was making money. I changed that fast.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
One of the people I am most grateful for, besides my business partner and close friends, is my good friend William Lee, who has a black-owned business called Yacht Club Company. He was instrumental in sharing so much insight and introducing me to some key people, which has benefited the growth of our company to this day.
Thank you for that. Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. Can you share with our readers the innovations you are bringing to the travel and hospitality industries?
I am providing a unique travel experience targeting Black Travelers to Tulum. We are combining exploring the Mayan culture and the urban party experience.
Which “pain point” are you trying to address by introducing this innovation, and how do you envision this might disrupt the status quo? Tulum is not traditionally known for the Hip Hop, R&B, and Afrobeat scene. Our parties are introducing just that with a splash of black Hollywood which does not make the Tulum purists too happy. We also have many more celebrities and influencers traveling to Tulum and have had our first live performances with top Afrobeat artists.
As you know, COVID-19 changed the world as we know it. Can you share a few examples of how travel and hospitality companies will adjust over the next five years to the new ways consumers will prefer to travel?
Well, we have seen that many remote employees will prefer to travel to other countries and live seasonally in Tulum. But to be honest, in Tulum, things haven’t changed. People stopped wearing masks except for health clinics and hospitals, and daily life has seemed to resume normally once again.
You are a “travel insider.” How would you describe your “perfect vacation experience”?
The key is balance! Planning a well-balanced trip includes culture/spirituality, activities, fine dining, beach day, and nightlife. However, it all begins with the purpose of the trip. Once we identify the drive, we can then set goals and move to execute those goals. That´s how we successfully plan trips for our clients and help them make significant, long-lasting memories.
Travel is not always about escaping but about connecting. Have you made efforts to cultivate a more wellness-driven experience? We’d love to hear about it.
Yes, we have assisted clients with connecting to Tulum’s culture and spirituality. I participated a few times, from the pyramid of Chichen Itza to Cenotes in the jungle to the Mayan ruins and ceremonies such as Temazcal. We also partner with local yoga instructors and wellness coaches to provide services to our clients.
Ok super. Here is the central question of our interview. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know to create a travel experience that keeps bringing people back for more? Please share a story or an example for each.
1. Knowing the purpose of the trip is critical! Is it for a birthday, bachelor or bachelorette party, anniversary, etc.? The purpose of the journey will help navigate the planning.
2. Identifying the needs. Every need is different, so identifying your client’s needs will help them enjoy the experience more. Do they want a villa or hotel, prefer to be near the beach or local area, transportation, special physical service needs, etc? It´s always good to probe and even make recommendations for things they may not know, especially if it´s their first time traveling.
3. What is the budget? This should be a no-brainer. However, this is essential before making any plans or recommendations. This is also great for managing expectations because many people come to Tulum and think it´s inexpensive when it´s quite the contrary depending on where you are and what you plan to do.
4. Learning the personality of your clients. This will help you to tailor a personalized experience for them. I suggest getting on a call or Zoom to interact and get a feel of the adventures they would enjoy. I believe that´s a primary reason for what makes us unique.
5. Rapport! We have a personal relationship with our clients and are available on-site for specific needs. Our clients appreciate face-to-face interaction, unlike many concierges who are remote. We go to the venues and check on them or call and text to see how their trip is going.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would start at a treasure chest organization, allowing influencers like myself to spend time and share mistakes we’ve made with teens from underserved communities. We would share education on finance, social issues, and mental health and allow kids to be mentored by other influencers.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
We give back to our local communities, whether through volunteering in soup kitchens or donating to drives such as the Christmas Drive, where we donated toys and money to the kids in Tulum.
My Instagram and Twitter are @thetruthwithjuice
The company’s social media is @blackzamaluxe, or visit our website at www.blackzama.com
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!