Insights on Travel from Costa Rica Expeditions’ Founder Michael Kaye and his Expert Friends.

Tortuga Lodge Video: Your Feedback.

Wow!!!  What a lot of really thoughtful and helpful comments.  I am really touched that so many of you took the time to write them.

There was no way that I could decide on only three winners for the bags of coffee.

Below are excerpts from the comments of the 14 (!) “winners” along with  my responses and questions.  My assistant Judith will be contacting you all to get your physical addresses.

Before I respond to your comments, I should give you some context that I should have thought to mention in the first post.

I decided from the beginning that the Video could be no more then three minutes.  I meant this literally. Toward the end of the editing when we had a 3 minute two second version, we cut two seconds.  This means that if we add anything or extend a transition something has to come out.

Many of you suggested that I devote more time to some aspects of the Tortuga Lodge experience. If you did not also suggest what should come out.

The video was put together from footage and photos that we had on hand from various sources.  Nothing was shot specifically for this video.  Some time between mid June and mid July, we’ll go to the lodge get more shots, taking into account your suggestions.  Once we have the shots we will do the next version.  We will not make any changes before then, because it is a lot more efficient use of time to do all the changes at once. That means we have plenty of time for another round of feedback for which I will be delighted to send out more bags of coffee for the ones that I find most helpful.  Please keep the feed back coming.

Comment by Kristen MacQueen on 2011/04/21 at 2:47pm

Michael, I love the nature/river images. You might consider adding a little more on the actual lodge (which I myself am curious about). Text-wise, here would be my suggestions (edits are in the text below):

Tortuguero National Park (maybe put this at the top instead of at the screen, see below for add’l suggestions on this theme)

The Essence of Tortuguero is Rivers

Rivers are Tortuguero’s Roads

Rivers are Tortuguero’s Soul

The Tropical Rainforest

Sun, Warmth & Humidity…

Combine to create the greatest biodiversity on the planet

Tortugera Lodge (move to the top of the screen as well, to provide separation for what I perceive to be the “sections” of the video)

Designed to Reflect its Surroundings

Touches of Luxury

But Not Decadence

Tortugera Village (move to top of the screen as well)
Place of the Turtle (I’m not sure if I like “Place” but couldn’t think of anything else to replace…)

Accessible only by boat and light aircraft

Green Turtle Festival November, 2011 (move to top of the screen)

Where the Floats REALLY Float

Where Life Begins

And Children Learn

The Words Adventure ((move to top of the screen, also think maybe this needs more explanation or a different term for the average audience – I’m your fan so I know all about it, but not everyone does)

Children Gain Knowledge

Guests Share

Children Discover

Guests Engage

The Essence of Tortuguero is Rivers
To Know Tortuguero…
Commune with the Rivers

You can save the coffee, the edit suggestions are free! We are still working on the chocolate & coffee you kind folks left behind in Cuba!

Kristen, Thank you.  This is incredibly helpful. I’ll take you up on not sending the coffee,  but you and Abel still owe Yolanda and me a visit.

Comment by Rod Yengich on 2011/04/21 at 2:59pm

Unfortunately, the video does not attract me in any way to the Tortuga Lodge. There is practically no information on the lodge. There is nothing in the video that makes me beleive I will have any fun or adventure at the lodge. The music is lovely, but boring and uninspiring. Teaching children English is very noble, but not an activity that most travelers would spend thousands of dollars to participate in. So why so much time in the video? We travel for fun and adventure. Things that can be had in Tortuguero. A lazy float in a boatload of people all hoping to get a picture of something is quite unatractive. When I have traveled to Costa Rica in the past I have seen jaguires, mountain lions, wild peccaries, red eyed tree frogs and tons of macaws. Turtles, crocodiles, bull sharks, poisonous snakes, and more wildlife than I can remember. Your video shows none of this. We love to hike and explore! Is this at all possible from the Tortuga Lodge? Perhaps some photos or video of people actually doing something fun or exciting would be more appropriate. Or perhaps this video only targets retired people who don’t get around much. Yawn… I guess I’ll go watch some paint dry now.

Rod, somehow I get the impression that Tortuguero is not for you.  I really appreciate you frankness. It is very helpful..  You don’t sound like you need the caffeine but I’m happy to send you the coffee.

Comment by Shannon Borrego on 2011/04/22 at 7:05am

How interesting to see the variety of opinions on the video. I agree with much of what Kristen says about the wording. The sentence about decadence is too abrupt and negative. I think you should either make Kristen’s change of “But not decadent”, or make a positive statement, such as “Unpretentious comforts”. The Words Adventure portion should be refined and shortened a little bit. How about:

Children Learn
Guests connect . . .
Through words
And play

“Place of the turtle” could be changed to “Home of the turtle” without compromising the meaning of Tortuguero.
I definitely agree that the Jamaican-sounding music is out of place. How about South American flute music for that part of the video?

I love the nature footage; nature is the reason to travel there. If you want to appeal to families more, and you shorten the Words Adventure portion, you could insert another scene of children doing things–fishing with a guide? swimming in the pool? (but quietly, you don’t want to give the impression that children are disturbing other guests).
The peaceful water scenes in the opening scenes are perfect; that truly expresses the beauty and essence of the area.

Love “Home of the Turtle.”

Comment by Alison Olivieri on 2011/04/22 at 8:20am

The music in the first part doesn’t ‘fit’ with Tortuguero and it is too loud.
Shots in the introduction, especially in the group in the boat, are glare-ridden, bouncing off of their hats.
Text should either be all initial caps or consistently upper and lower case.
Tortuguero is spell-binding; this video needs a little ‘magic’.

Typically helpful and to the point, Alison.  Since you live in Costa Rica, you and Michael will have to come by and get you coffee.

Comment by Karan Hanna on 2011/04/22 at 8:43am

This is a great start! First, I would have some upbeat Costa Rican music in the background – you want to get your audience excited about the amazing life found in the Tortuguero area. You want to draw people here, and I would make the restaurant scenes more lively – have the chef or some of the staff interacting with the visitors who are having a glass of wine (or something). You need to really drive home the message that turtle conservation is critical in this area, and how Costa Rican expeditions is facilitating the efforts to ensure turtle populations return year after year. Volunteer efforts could show people helping with building construction or giving out school supplies. Kids playing in the pool would be good (if you want to attract families).

Our visit to Tortuga lodge, and the evening candlelit BBQ and trip to see the nesting turtles was the highlight of all of our international travels during the past five years. This is truly a special place, and the video doesn’t capture the magic of the place, nor the warmth of the staff at the lodge. Lots of potential here – run with it! More vibrancy and enthusiasm is needed!

What scares me a little bit is the fine line between, “vibrancy and enthusiasm,” and hype. We’ll keep working on it until we get it right.  I love the challenge.  Thanks

Comment by Emily Le Moing on 2011/04/22 at 9:34am

I loved the river and wildlife images at the beginning of the video but, like others, I was distracted by the music, which didn’t fit Tortuguero for me (I’ve stayed at your lodge); I would go with local music (and use it more softly) if you feel you have to have music but I preferred the parts of the video in which you used natural sounds of birds, the river, wind in the rain forest, rain… such sounds help the video get across what makes Tortuguero unique and magical in a way that music can’t. …Maybe you could ask people who have traveled to Tortuguero and your lodge what they remember most about their trip. These would be the sorts of things the video should focus on.

I am intrigued by the idea of asking guests to tell  about their most vivid memories of the Lodge,  Perhaps I could use that for the narration of the Moneverde Lodge Videp.  I’d love to have some volunteers.  Please let me know if you’d be willing.

Comment by Jim Poplack on 2011/04/22 at 7:08pm

It was the next section – on Tortugero – that seemed strangest, though, especially the 1-2 second blurb on the turtle festival. Ending (both of the festival and the music) seemed very abrupt and out of character with the previous portion of the video.

Final thought: consider adding a comment at the very end about the teaching – to set Tortuga Lodge apart: “To know Tortugero you have to commune with the rivers. At Tortuga Lodge, you can also share with the local children.”

Great food for thought.  Thanks.

Comment by Barbara Klein on 2011/04/22 at 9:10pm

My husband and I have been to Tortuguero 4 times since 1995 and stayed at Tortuga Lodge 3 times, so we feel as if we know the area and your lodge quite well, so much of the video felt very familiar. However, if we were viewing this video for the first time, with no prior visits to Tortuguero, we don’t think we would really understand just how rich and diverse a destination it can be.

It’s unclear if you intend to limit the video to just 3 minutes; however, if so, maybe you are trying to cover too much.

I really appreciate you looking at the video from the point of view of someone who is considering visiting Tortuga Lodge.  We are know asking people who are considering visiting the lodge for critiques.

Comment by Jennifer Fletcher on 2011/04/22 at 10:00pm

I also agree there should be much less of the school experience – I myself would like to see just some close-ups of the children’s faces,smiling.

Some up to the minute young & vibrant Costa Rican modern music would be great & create a great ambience.
Have you looked at Roberto Miranda’s award-winning video on Costa Rica? I think it’s spoiled all others for me ! Is there any way you could use some of his shots?

Jennifer, I really love the shot of the women yelling out, “Loud!”  So many of the guests are so timid with the kids. They’re  resilient.  They won’t beak.

Who’s Roberto Miranda?  What Video?

Comment by Cheryl Snider on 2011/04/25 at 5:46pm

I’ve been to Tortuguero and Tortuga Lodge twice now and I don’t think this video does justice to either one,

Being greeted at the dock with cold drinks was such a friendly gesture….it set the mood for the experience of staying at Tortuga. I would think that you want to convey the atmosphere of friendly hospitality.

I considered shots of the greeting and happy people at the pool, but was worried about the shots seeming staged.  We will try to get them when we go to get the shots of the nesting turtles and then decide if we should put them in.

Comment by Bob and Melanie Royer on 2011/04/26 at 10:38am B

Re the ESL (English as a Second Language) lessons, we think it should be clarified that participation in the program is a voluntary opportunity to mix with the culture. As a teacher, I understand the reasoning for the “hokie pokie” shots…this is a typical and nonthreatening way to reinforce language learning…everyone can l do it!

Good point about the Words Adventure. Clearly we are going to have to a better job of explaining it. The trick is going to be to either explain it better in the same amount of time or decide what to take out to give it more time.

Comment by Nancy Lee & John O’Connor on 2011/04/26 at 8:30pm

Beautiful video overall. Wish we were there!

Here are some specific comments:

– The font is too harsh. We suggest a softer font like Helvetica or a serif font like good ole Times New Roman, which makes reading easier…

The transitions of the text is a little abrupt. A more gradual fading in and out would be more soothing and in keeping with the scenery and music.

– Similarly, the transitions between the scenes are a little abrupt too. More gradual transitions would better convey the unfolding and discovery that happens and the tranquility on the rivers.

…the video should work on all devices.

– Is the date of the Turtle Festival correct? It says November 2011, but there are scenes from a past festival. Was the festival in 2010 and the next one (2nd annual?) in 2011?

Great help Nancy and John.  Heart felt thanks.

A few specific responses:

  • I am confused about the font. It seems to me that the deciding factor is ease of reading.  I was under the impression that research had shown  that Arial was the easiest font to read, but I could well have gotten it wrong.  I’d appreciated any information anyone has on this.
  • Good reminder about the video working on all devices.  So much to do.
  • Good reminder about the video working on all devices.  So much to do.
  • What would you take out to make room for the things you are suggesting?
  • Finally regarding the date of the Turtle Festival, it is part of market test we are doing on Time Travel.  If we see that there is interest, we will start offering trips into the future.  Personally I want to go to 2046.  I have a feeling it is going to be a good year.

Comment Cheryl Schiarizzi on 2011/04/27 at 6:19pm

…this video needs to focus more on the pura vida, the natural habitat/botany/animals of the rainforest and the sights we saw. Also, more on the lodge itself and the land there. How about showing the guests arrive off the plane onto the boat and cross the river onto the landing? I got the best sleep of my life there while it was raining. Can you show more peaceful scenes with great linens and the sound of the rain – can that be captured more? Also, I was very disappointed to see that the guests were mostly white and older. How about families? Children? More diversity in terms of ethnicity and age? Michael: I’m going to send you pix of my son in Tortugero at 8 years old to your email. Also, what about the Conservation practices used at the lodge.

These are all worthwhile things to include, Cheryl. What would you take out to make room for the things you are suggesting?

Who is this man and what are his photos doing in my post?

Photos Patty Chang Anker

I’m sorry I could not resist a smartass response when Jennifer Fletcher suggested that I use some of the shots from Roberto Miranda’s award winning video.  My good friends Roberto and his brother Alberto provided invaluable help and advice in editing the video. Some of the shots in it are Roberto’s.  The reason we cannot use the shots from Opera Natura is that they are not in high definition and would clash with the rest of the video.  Roberto will be doing the shooting of the new shots that we will be including in the next version.

Comment by Chris Parrot on 2011/04/28 at 2:30am

Video – very calming and serene; makes you want to be there. 
Constructive criticism: you don’t need words on the screen to explain what the pictures already illustrate (A touch of luxury). But I think I’d like to see the creatures (eg) identified (words on screen?)- I can see it’s a monkey, a bird, a lizard – but I’d like to know more detail.

I appreciate of course that this might detract from the overall “serenity” image you’re successfully conveying

A typically thought provoking comment. If Chris were eligible, I’d have to send a bag of coffee all the way to Ealing in the UK.  Of course, were Chris to show up in Costa Rica and plead his case personally (especially while cycling) a bag of coffee might just be arranged,

Again for any of you who have managed to keep reading for this long.  This has all been incredibly helpful.  Heartfelt thanks.

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              • At May 13, 2011
                3:33:46 pm
                Nancy Lee said:

                Hi Michael,

                I did some research about fonts and sans serif fonts are indeed easier to read in Web applications like the video. Serif fonts are generally viewed as easier to read on hard copy print. The main reason is low resolution computer monitors can cause serif fonts to look blurry, but high resolution print such as in books or by laser printers can handle the complexity of serif fonts to produce sharp images.

                As to what I think could be taken out of the video:
                I agree with many of the comments from the two Cheryls above. Specifically,
                – Shaving off a few seconds from each of the shots of the animals in the beginning of the video.
                – Cut the jumping monkey scene.
                – Cut the water scenes between the jumping monkey and the wading bird. And the water scene between the wading bird and the 2 turtles on the log. That way you will have a series of animal scenes. The water is relatively uninteresting.
                – Regarding the boat scene with people taking pictures of the bird, the comment about demographic diversity is an excellent point. I suggest cutting it for the demographic reason and it’s not all that compelling. The birds have been covered and the video shows people in a boat earlier on.
                – The plate of food looks delicious, but can be cut since it’s the only food scene.
                – I’m indifferent about the table with the gray tablecloth, but I like the scene after it with the people. I suggest cutting the table and replacing it with another casual dining scene with people.
                – Cut the turtle festival. I agree it only happens once a year and it’s a passive event for clients. Maybe you can replace it with a walking/hiking scene to convey a range of activities.
                – I would end the video with the panning out of the kayakers (the text from the next scenes will have to be combine). The flat bottom boat scene does look too familiar with an earlier one. The kayakers paddling away is a tranquil ending that sends the message of setting off to explore and discover the soul of Tortuguero, which is what you want people to come do.

                I’m looking forward to the next version. Have fun with it.

              • At May 13, 2011
                5:33:46 am
                Cheryl Shnider said:

                Hi Michael
                I, too, am more than willing to come help out with video production. Count me in for the Monteverde Lodge memory project as well. Sipping a glass of wine in the restaurant with only a pane of glass between me and a hummingbird at a flower is my most vivid memory. I love how the whole building at Monteverde lodge melts right into the surrounding landscape. (At both lodges, actually)

                In terms of what to cut out of this video, here are my thoughts:
                – The kayak scene at the beginning sets a nice tone but could be shortened – currently 9 seconds
                – Sun, heat, humidity should be combined with the next text about creating biodiversity. The solar glare in the shot is harsh and vacationing in sun, heat and humidity doesn’t sound as appealing until it is combined with creating biodiversity
                – I agree that the monkey scene should be shortened. I like the jumping AND the eating so would shorten a little of both. Monkeys are so entertaining!
                – The bird drying its wings is a long 4 seconds
                – The bird tiptoeing through the moving water could be eliminated. The moving water messes up the flow of the video and makes me wonder if I’m seeing right.
                – The shot of the plate of food doesn’t appeal to me at all (although the food itself was wonderful – RIP Valentin)
                – You could take out the shot of the kids at the school carrying the desk out. Keep the hokey pokey though – that looks like fun.
                – Is the ending kayak and boat scene the same as the opening one? If not, its too similar. With only 3 minutes, don’t repeat anything.
                – The photos of the butterfly on the nose of the croc that we saw in October is a classic and would provide some WOW to the animal shots. If one of the pros (Max or Roberto) won’t share, I have some.
                – lastly (you asked for feedback – you got it!!!), add some quick shots of colorful, exotic wildlife. Tortuguero is such a mecca for birders you might want to highlight that.

                So theres my two cents worth! Can’t wait to see the next revision. Best of luck!

                • At May 11, 2011
                  7:01:17 pm
                  Cheryl Schiarizzi said:

                  Hi Michael: So you asked me what I’d cut to get the things I suggested into the video: Here goes (and no offense to anyone)
                  -cut the scene where the monkey is jumping from tree to tree – you already have great pix of monkey upclose – enough with the monkeys already
                  -combine the works “sun, heat, humidity” + “combine to create…” then cut the first part of the pix on sun,heat,humidity, There is nice fading into the monkey and bird
                  -cut the people on the flat bottom boat watching a bird fly – you already have birds covered and the people are all old – no diversity in terms of demographics. If you must have this scene then get a boatload of different types of people
                  -too many scenes of kayakers
                  -cut one of the aerial views
                  -cut some of the moving water — some of it actually makes me dizzy — it’s the motion sickness coming on…..
                  –cut the Green Turtle Festival – i’m not sure what that does for the lodge since it’s probably a once a year event
                  -cut one screne of “Guests Share” – either one of the lady teachers is fine (but since I’ve already read the other posts and you like the LOUD lady so much cut the other lady)

                  I’d be happy to travel to Costa Rica if you put together a team of like minded souls in the future. Best to you and your team, Cheryl

                • At May 11, 2011
                  6:19:55 am
                  Shannon Borrego said:


                  I totally loved your smart-ass comment about taking trips to the future! This is one of the reasons that we all adore you . . .you keep it all in perspective. Here I am, reading along in a sort of “analytical” mode, seriously digesting everyone’s comments. And you interject that comment about trips to the future, which completely cracked me up and reminded me that we aren’t doing brain surgery here, we’re just talking about a video, for goodness sake! Oh, and yes, please sign me up for one of those trips.


                  • I’m late to this party! Sounds like you’ve gotten great feedback here. I was not able to watch the video easily – for some reason YouTube glitches on me every 2 seconds, so I couldn’t get a feel for the flow of the piece. Of course, if you want a pr pro to go on the reshoot with you and help you edit out on the veranda by the pool, I would certainly make myself available…:)

                  • At May 10, 2011
                    5:29:56 pm
                    Jennifer Fletcher said:

                    The woman yelling out “LOUD!” to the children was me !
                    I thought they should be having a bit more fun – they were being a too quiet & polite.