Just why does Kalkan exist?

Never heard of Kalkan? Neither had I, however for my family holiday this year we followed a recommendation to go there. It’s on the edgy bit of Turkey.


We discovered (they use the word discover a lot in holiday sales literature don’t they) a really lovely place, great weather, beautiful seas, views, hotel, restaurants, history, genuine fake Rolex shops etc. All the usual stuff you expect from a nice family holiday at the coast.

However, there was something totally amazing about Kalkan, something that puzzled me for a few days.

Everyone local we met was unfailingly and utterly charming, caring and lovely. Very polite, and they genuinely wanted to ensure that we had the most fantastic experience. The opposite to highly trained fake caring as invented by Disneyland.

We never felt hassled. You might cynically think that this is only what they should be doing – but when did you last visit a holiday destination where this was actually the case. Genuine concern, from every single person for our welfare and our enjoyment. Meals were fantastic value, and often we were given complimentary starters or sweets. I could go on and on……

There was a nagging problem for me in all of this loveliness. I wondered how this little town had got itself so organised and on message.

There is no industry around Kalkan. Subsistence agriculture and tourism are the only means of income.

Had they employed McKinsey? Had the winter seen endless meetings to agree strategy. Did Kalkan have a Director of Customer Satisfaction?

But of course they had done none of that. They had been much more sophisticated, because they had taken the time to work out the “why” of Kalkan, not just the “what”.

They all knew why they got up in the morning. Not to make money (although that’s the outcome). Nor what they did – run a hotel or restaurant. But why.

Their “why” must be to make sure every visitor is amazingly satisfied. They are all driven to give visitors the most fabulous welcome and friendly experience. So that you enjoy yourself. And come again. And tell everyone about it.

And that’s so much more successful than focusing upon what they did – which is what so many other destinations do.

The lesson is that you need to focus upon the “why” of your brand, not just the “what” part. As codified by Simon Sinek – see his Ted Talk on the Golden Circle.

That’s my learning and my advice, work out your “why” – which naturally we at Key Parker can help you with.

Just don’t visit Kalkan, you’ll ruin it for the rest of us !