But Bazelais says he never really lost touch with his native land. As a matter of fact, he’s launched Bonspoon, a business venture that he conceptualized to help Haiti tourists locate and evaluate restaurants, nightclubs and other hotspots. As Haiti’s is preparing to regain its spot as a hot tourism spot, Bazelais estimated that there would be a need for such a site.
The plan for the site is simple. Users can register for free on the the company’s website Bonspoon.com. Once their registration has been confirmed, they can add reviews of restaurants in Haiti and rate them using a five-star evaluation system. The site also has a social media component, with users having the capability to connect with other users, as well as add listings of events happening in Haiti.
Q & A
Did you come up with Bonspoon out of the blue?
No, actually. Bonspoon is an idea that was conceived shortly before visiting Haiti this past year with my family. As cliché as this may sound, it was out of the need—the need to gather information on places to dine or have an outing of some sort while we were there. Also being able to find honest reviews & ratings shared by real people about those venues all over Haiti. Needless to say, there was very little information made accessible to me or the public. Moreover, what I did find was mainly in the Port-au-Prince surrounding areas—from foreign guides—not Haitian-owned. After this disappointment, the thought struck me: why not explore the possibilities of having such a medium that will cater to the hospitality industry in Haiti – to provide the sort of information to the locals, diasporas and travelers alike. And make it so that not only it is informative and interactive for users but free for business owners to list their businesses.
What do you hope to accomplish with this venture?
Well, our mission is to connect people and communities to the hospitality industry in Haiti. To provide our clients exceptional services, and our users a platform on which they can engage socially. So we hope to soon become a household name globally within the Haitian diaspora and travelers that have an interest in Haiti, also the locals. We look at it this way; our development can only be synergistic to this refreshed and growing tourism industry. Haiti is for sure becoming the next “it destination” and it is apparent when we look at the trends of new hotel constructions throughout the country, major airlines like JetBlue expanding their services to our shores. The future of Haiti is looking brighter and brighter day to day. So what we wish to accomplish with this venture is having accessibility to all of Haiti; all ten regions – not just one city. As a source, we want for our users to be able to find what they are looking for when they need it.
Living in the States or outside of Haiti, I, and I’m sure this is true for every Haitian living abroad – we have become accustom to having to be facilitated or having it easy. So a guide, if I may, like Bonspoon.com is one component amongst others that will make a visitor’s experience, either it be outing, dining or lodging at any particular place better. Such a medium, honestly, has the capability or potential to improve customer service and relations in all areas of hospitality.
When was the last time you hopped on a plane and went to Haiti?
Honestly, I wish I could go back home quarterly. However, I try to make it to Haiti, at least, once a year during the summers. Summers, as you know, are one of the best times to visit Haiti. Although, one can’t go wrong either way, there’s always something going on. Which usually leaves me in nostalgia and the need for a vacation from my vacation.
Did you eat at a particular restaurant that tickled your palate?
Not particularly tickled…Though, my family and I did have dinner at Dady’s Corner in Jacmel which was really cozy with great service. The service we received there made me feel really excited about having a medium like Bonspoon.com around that will cater to the hospitality industry for people to share their experiences as they visit these places.
Is there anything in particular in your background that made taking on this venture a bit easier?
Well, having knowledge in CET which is Computer Engineer Technologies definitely made it a bit easier, but still wasn’t enough. I have to say, I learned a lot doing so since I was and still am very involved with this project. There’s a rule I go by: “If you want something done right, do it yourself. If you want it to be done professionally, hire the pros.” So that’s just what I did. I hired someone because I just couldn’t do everything on my own. Designing, planning and implementing is really time consuming.
Bonspoon is without a doubt a great guide for tourists in Haiti and food lovers.
Thank you, Kat. Yes, Bonspoon is a user-friendly site where once registered, members can add listings/events, share their experiences from a visit to one of the venues in our directory and connect with people around the world. Sharing the beauty of our country that will attract potential visitors to all regions of Haiti as I stated previously. Also, our prices are unbeatable. Yet, it’s totally free to register or list your business. Owners do have the option, however, to advertise and promote their businesses with our featured options. We recommend for them to encourage their clients to share a feedback on our site to gain or keep the highest ranked venue in our Haiti’s Top 10.
What are your thoughts on the current state of Haitian tourism?
First of all, I’d like to say that this government in place is doing an amazing job. Either we admit to being political or not, we all are influenced one way or another. Either you’re a voter or not, politics will affect you. So since I live in the 11th department—the diaspora—and wasn’t able to vote for the current president, I thank the people who did. Now to go anywhere one must have a direction, a vision, and so the vision that Martelly has is clearly being realized in many ways. One is the focus on tourism which is flourishing nicely, and will bring many more hotels and restaurants to the country. This will in turn create jobs for the people and strengthen the working class. Not to mention, successful businesses and entrepreneurs will be born from this for many years to come.
At this point, you’ve earned your crown as a digital and tourism entrepreneur. What are some of the obstacles that you’ve come across along the way?
Wow! I am flattered, what a title. I have to say, there isn’t enough time in a day, Kat. There is always something to do, something to fix. So, not having many people on the team is an obstacle in itself. What I found stressful was not having a back up developer available when I needed a replacement. So I had to stall on launching the site from the mid-spring to the end of spring.
Based on what you know thus far in launching Bonspoon and getting it on the right footing, what counsel would you like to give aspiring and new-to-the-game entrepreneurs?
Good question. I can only think of two words from the top of my head: business plan. One cannot start a business without it. It’s as important as having a startup fund. It puts everything into perspective which is why it is called a plan. It honestly serves as an assistant to the entrepreneur [for] knowing what lies ahead. Yes, it is a tedious job, but absolutely necessary. It will shape the direction of your enterprise.
Be sure to visit the Bonspoon website HERE.