Thursday, May 31, 2012

Cuban private business finally in Yellow Pages

Cuban private business finally in Yellow Pages
By: Portia Siegelbaum

(CBS News) HAVANA -- As Cuba restructures its economy, the limited
private sector is claiming more public space, even making it into the
new edition of the state-owned phone company's Yellow Pages.

It's a sign that private enterprise is here to stay. This phone
directory, for the first time, has 12 pages of listings and
advertisements for non-state businesses: From bed and breakfasts,
restaurants and photo studios, to party planners, electricians and florists.

For $10, small mom & pop companies get a listing with their company
name, address and phone number. But well-established enterprises such as
the "Monte Barreto Bar--Restaurant" paid bigger bucks -- about $1,300 --
and took full page color ads. La Guarida, a private restaurant popular
with tourists, took a half-page ad at a cost of approximately $800. But
there are also large ads for beauty salons and gyms, and photo studios
specializing in weddings and other social events.

Cubans wanting granite stairs, tiles, floors or countertops will focus
in on an ad by Yovany, who offers free delivery.

There's a listing for a pet hotel and three listings for swimming pool
rentals, and even more for those offering rural settings with amenities
for weddings and birthday parties.

In a country where billboard advertising is non-existent, the
possibility of marketing in the Yellow Pages is a boom to Cuba's new
private entrepreneurs. And it also represents revenues for the State.

In the absence of other advertising possibilities some private
restaurants have been sending text messages or e-mails. A fairly new
Indian restaurant, Bollywood, is one of the most persistent text
senders. La Casa, whose owner Alejandro Robaina missed the deadline to
place an ad in the Yellow Pages, sent out an e-mail earlier this week
announcing the return of their former chef after ten years working
cruise ships in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean and touting a newly
designed menu.

But given the generally limited access to the Internet and the low
percentage of cell phone subscribers, most Cubans will, for the time
being, be getting their information on what's on offer from their phone
books, given free to them when they paid their May phone bills.

Most observers agree that, for private businesses, access to the Yellow
Pages is a step forward and they expect that in the future many more
people will chose to advertise.

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