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When a premium price is right

Participating in Guam tourism

Converge By Jeffrey Tomas Marchesseault

If you happen to be the operator of a small, family-owned business, you already know how critical it is to stay scrappy and resourceful. But even the most observant of us can fall short of fully appreciating the unique value that our own business concepts, surrounding resources, family hires, and close staff bring to the game. And then we wind up squandering an opportunity whose abundant rewards were otherwise deserved.


If you ever sense that you might be missing the mark as a family business operator who happens to sell anything to tourists here at Destination Guam, take heart and read on. There could be something in this for you.

Tips from a timeless classic

In the 1987 romantic comedy Baby Boom, an ambitious Manhattan management consultant named JC Wiatt (played by Diane Keaton) suddenly finds herself at a career crossroads.

JC has unexpectedly become the legal guardian of an orphaned toddler named Elizabeth after a long-lost cousin’s untimely death. The last thing JC and her live-in investment-banker boyfriend ever wanted was a little one to care for. But after hiring nannies and considering adoption in the interim, JC grows attached to the child. Her ex-sweetheart moves out and moves on, and JC soon discovers family life clashing with the all-consuming corporate culture of the big city office.

After her coveted blue-chip foods client is reassigned to an ambitious young protégé and her pending promotion is stalled, JC quits in frustration and moves to a rural hideaway in Vermont to raise her adopted daughter. Struggling to make ends meet after a home purchase goes wrong, she happens upon a new hobby that becomes a promising cottage industry. 

Drawing on the resources of an orchard on the property of her newly acquired farmhouse, she begins jarring homemade applesauce baby food for Elizabeth and distributes the excess through a hometown general store.

It’s not long before the hunch hits her that she’s sitting on a prospective goldmine. While dropping a fresh batch to the corner retailer, a pair of giddy yuppie couples drop in from New York City. They go gaga for JC’s “Country Baby Gourmet Baby Food” and wind up buying several cases on the spot.

With a notable twist of farce, the young shoppers pay little-to-no concern as JC verbally raises the price of the product from $3.50, then to $4.50, and finally to $5.50 per jar while the yuppies’ enthusiasm for the sleeper gourmet brand quickly escalates. At that moment, JC realizes she has a high-end consumer product on her hands – and it’s in demand.

Inspired by the telltale signs of a reversal of fortune, the enterprising new mom immediately buckles down on her library research and uses her consultant’s chops to chart the startup’s success. Soon enough, business is booming, and orders are pouring in from across the country. To put things in perspective, consider that a year-1987 $5.50 unit price equals over 15 bucks a pop in today’s money.

With a tempting buyout offer on the table from the top-shelf food distributor client she lost to an underling during her career setback, JC ultimately decides she prefers balancing her work time as a proprietor with family time as a new mother who is, by now, in a fresh, budding relationship with a romantic suitor who’s on board with her chosen path.

Takeaways: JC knows that, as a concept creator and brand owner who calls the shots, she doesn’t have to choose between a career and a family after all. She can have both.

This film was released 37 years ago this fall. Much of it is dated and seems a little too good to be true. But in less than two hours, it manages to humorously encapsulate some timeless keys to success for any little mom-and-pop operation.

This is true whether you and yours have global distribution aspirations or simply want to improve sales here at home, where so many local businesses cater to a healthy mix of residents, tourists, and migrants all at once.

What’s more is that today’s online technologies open a whole realm of affordable market access that was still light years away from JC Wiatt’s mid-80s world.

My point is that if you and your family can commit to helping Destination Guam authenticate the visitor experience with your homegrown business by consistently offering tourists a taste of real local culture, you’re already on a winning trajectory. And if you play your cards right, you won’t have to choose between a successful career and a happy family. You can have both.

Time and again, foreign guests, contract workers, exchange students, and military arrivals vote with their money by buying up anything and everything that “keepsakes” their experiences on island and makes them feel good about being here.

From handcrafted items and sweet treats to Airbnb rentals and narrated walking tours, nothing can replace the authenticity of locally made products and services delivered with island smiles and håfa adai pride. Are you charging enough for your selections?

Giving it a go: For a fresh start, make it as easy as possible to find your offerings in the marketplace. But pace your development. Set your own hours, prices, terms, and parameters. Take time out for self-care and loved ones. You’re in charge.

And if you have something exceptional to offer right off the top, don’t be afraid to mark it up to a higher trial price. This will test your target market’s willingness to spring for something hard to find anywhere else.

There’s something magical about products made with love and care by the families who draw on the homegrown resources of the fascinating places they live. This is true of any place travelers are attracted to.


Consider JC’s predicament. Her biological clock is ticking and she doesn’t even know it yet. She relishes her work and creating value, plus she knows how to decode buyer behavior to help beef up the bottom line. But she also has a lot of love and wisdom to pass along to the next generation.

This is the natural order of things. And it creates evolving value for decades to come. Whether you’re starting anew or just wanting to shake things up in your visitor-oriented family business, take a cue from a fictional East Coast entrepreneur named JC Wiatt. Challenge yourself to create something novel, compelling, and useful. Dig into the research. Consider products, services, tours, or combined experiences that are historically or culturally relevant to tourists. 

Ask yourself whether these items appeal to the community-enhancing values that increasingly drive today’s sophisticated traveling consumers. And honestly consider whether anyone else would be hard-pressed to replicate or surpass your brand’s core identity.

Don’t sell yourself short. You may be pleasantly surprised that visitors are ready to snap up whatever you have to sell at prices that reward you handsomely.

Jeffrey Tomas Marchesseault is a lifelong multimedia careerist and former real estate broker and property manager. He now serves as publicist and business analyst for the president and CEO of the Guam Visitors Bureau. You can reach Jeff at


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