I’ve been telling myself for more than a year that my website wasn’t keeping pace with my clients’ needs.
I regularly post blogs and keep information on various properties updated, but with Panama moving so quickly, I knew I wasn’t providing enough information. This was true because people who would initially reach out to me on the phone or in person often had no idea what Panama was really like. The two words, “third world” came up a lot.
It would be difficult for anyone to actually keep people updated about Panama. Things are moving that fast. The international airport is adding a new terminal that is both cutting edge and beautiful. The second line to Panama City’s subway is nearing completion and millions of dollars are going into improving the highways throughout Panama. Bids for the new bridge spanning the Panama Canal are being tendered and English is guaranteed to be taught in every public school.
Most individuals have preconceived notions about Panama and it rarely includes a cosmopolitan city with a stunning skyline; a country with five star accommodations and restaurants that rival counterparts in London, Hong Kong and New York. Or, a country with a thriving business center dotted with signs announcing offices for multi-national businesses. Many are not sure about our beaches and how they have sweeping views of both the Pacific and Atlantic with amazing resorts and luxury condominiums. In the interior of Panama, there is a beautiful community thriving inside a volcano. Further out in the countryside are some of the best surfing curls in the world and don’t forget the organic vegetables and fresh fish.
The Canal and The Papers!
Of course people know about the Panama Canal, but that brings up memories of Teddy Roosevelt playing cowboy among the imported workers with lots of mosquitoes and earth being moved around. The Panama Papers is another well-remembered topic, so people now equate Panama with the perceived notion that oligarchs and billionaires from around the world are hiding money among various tall buildings and mounds of legal papers. Brown paper bags may also be involved and I think people believe there are lots of black SUVs with tinted windows and large men in dark shades.
Of course Panama is all that and more although I haven’t seen very many large men with their eyes covered and averted. What I have been seeing are lots of construction cranes dotting the skyline, especially in Costa del Este. When we began planning the new website, we foolishly thought it would be easy to reflect what Panama is today. Quickly it became apparent the project was going to be much larger than my earlier effort. The new site needed to be a much larger source of up-to-date information because now the audience included brokers from around the world, investment firms and families who were relocating with trailing spouses and children in addition to retirees from North America.
When Clients’ Needs Change
My original website worked well when first introduced. I wrote about how to eat organically and what was involved in obtaining a driver’s license and pensionado status. Those things are still important, but so is the progress on the construction of the Johns Hopkins International affiliated hospital now under way in Costa del Este. It’s the second such affiliated hospital in Panama and now there are medical offices being built and condo hotels going up which will provide short- and long-term rentals for individuals coming to Panama for medical treatment. It was no longer just about how you could get good healthcare in Panama, it was now explaining why you would want to come specifically to Panama for great health care.
I love Panama because it has allowed me to grow along with its’ own growth. Ten years ago, I spent time with expats looking for an inexpensive retirement home, most likely somewhere near the beach. Today, I am comfortable with the same type of client but I also spend time with international investors who are looking for several floors of a new condo hotel tower where the least expensive option is somewhere around two and a half million USD.
More And More Available Properties
Over the years, the list of available properties have grown considerably so my website also needed to expand. Now there are condominiums on the beach and residences over looking exclusive golf courses. We have a new complex planned for Costa del Este which is unlike anything else in the country. Families are looking for homes with maids’ quarters and multiple amenities including ballrooms used to celebrate Quinceaneras and weddings. Infinity pools are everywhere.
With Panama’s prime geographic location, multi-national corporations are lining up to locate offices here. At one time families worried Panama would not be a good location to raise a family and today, families who have received the transfer to Panama are thrilled, once they see what Panama has become with first-rate international schools and a soccer team headed to the 2018 World Cup. I knew I needed to tell today’s story and tell it visually so people could be properly informed.
So Many Steps
The are many steps in building a new website and it all starts with planning and mapping the site. Then you decide how to tell the story. It was obvious videos would be needed but should it be drone footage or from cameras on the ground? What words would be required to tell each story? What kind of photography was best to convey the message needed for every aspect.
Planning morphed into days of filming, lining up talent and bribing friends to appear on camera. Outlined copy for each property had to be matched to images. Cropping and editing and voice overs in a studio took more time than I ever imagined. Copy was read over and over attempting to eliminate any typos.
My biggest concern was appropriately conveying the passion that is found in Panama and in the Panamanian people. I love this country. The music, the traditions, the faces of the children all needed to be just right. I think we did it, but I’d love to hear from you!