Decompression Time

I've just returned from a much-needed and long-overdue vacation — my first "real" break in more than four years — and I have a few things that are still fresh in my mind that I'd like to share with you about my trip: things that might provide some food for thought over any current or future projects you might be working on.

The first thing on my mind is money: The vacation that my lovely wife Dawn and I took included an 11-day interisland cruise visiting all of the Hawaiian hotspots, with a little decompression time on Waikiki thrown in for good measure. All told, we spent around $15,000 on this trip, a huge sum of money for some folks; a drop in the bucket for others.

While we tend to be pretty careful with our spending, we're not afraid to spend when it's something that is important to us or that we want badly enough. I tend to think that this is the case with many consumers — especially those considering joining an adult website — where as I've opined before, they may be willing to spend the money but will only do so if the proposition is worth it to them.

Of course, what one person finds worth purchasing another person will pass by — and the decision isn't always one of means — but it is always one of desire. So if your sales are lacking, you might want to focus on increasing the desirability of your offers because doing so will make you more money. And money is what it is always about (or so I'm finally beginning to realize).

I've never really been financially motivated, meaning that money hasn't previously been all that much of a concern to me. But this trip changed all of that forever. You see, I'm one of those guys that always thought "a million dollars is enough" — but after doing a bit of property shopping while in Hawaii, "sticker shock" set in.

While a million and change will get me a decent place back home on the New Hampshire seacoast, it will only get me a partial ownership share on a prime beach-front property in Hawaii or allow me to buy a place in a good location, but a place that seems only a bit larger than the size of the walk-in closet in my current home.

On some of the properties I looked at, the only difference between spending $1.5 million and spending $3.5 million was the quality of the granite counter tops and the size of the bathtub. The square footage or desirability of the location wasn't necessarily increased. Want something really nice? Don't bother looking without at least $5 million to spend, and I'm not talking about mansions but about three-bedroom, two-bath homes.

The upshot for me is that I won't be retiring just yet. The upshot for you might be that while your prospects may be able to afford your $29.95 per-month membership fees, they may not be able to justify the expense in the current market — a market where many other options are available at much lower price points (or for free) — and especially if all they'll get between a $9.95 site and a $29.95 site is a handful of bonus feeds.

Customer Satisfaction
Another issue that I thought about while cruising is that of customer satisfaction: While most of my fellow passengers seemed quite pleased, I overheard several people grumble about sundry matters. Some of these folks seemed like the impossible to please types, but others seemed to have legitimate complaints.

The funny thing is, most kept their complaints to themselves, limiting their squawking to their fellow travelers, rather than bringing the issues to the ship's staff. The upshot here is that these well-paying customers will never return as repeat customers and the cruise line will never know why.

It's not that they didn't try to find out, however, as all passengers were presented with a comments questionnaire that was several pages long, had your personal information on it, and required filling in the little ovals to make multiple selections — exactly like the SAT and other tests that many of us remember from our school days. Given the size and complexity of the test (and the fact that many of our fellow passengers did not speak English), I have to doubt the efficacy of this questionnaire and wonder how many were simply disregarded and thrown into the trash can, costing a well-meaning company the valuable customer feedback it was seeking.

It's important to know what your customers are thinking, but if you make it too difficult or time-consuming for them to provide you with feedback, you simply won't receive it.

Finally, the other thing on my mind right now is the need for — and value of — taking time for reflection whether you're contemplating business issues, personal issues or both.

I find it hard to relax and spend time away from the computer. Indeed, this isn't my job but my lifestyle, which is why it's been so long since I took a real vacation — and by that I mean taking time away from my computer. I didn't bring the laptop with me, nor did I patronize any Internet cafes. I didn't bring my PSP so as to avoid the urge to seek out wi-fi connections, and my 3G RAZR 3 was turned off and locked in our stateroom mini-safe for most of the duration of our cruise (although I did power-up every few days to check for important messages and to keep up with the XBIZ SMS blasts — I can't be totally disconnected).

The result is that I enjoyed some much-needed quality time with my wife, and had the opportunity to distance myself from the little world I've been spinning my wheels in. This has allowed me a chance to take a fresher look at issues personally, professionally and beyond — all with a new perspective — and hopefully something great will come of it.

If it's been a while since you got away and took some time for yourself, then I suggest you do so as soon as possible. You'll thank yourself for it.