The Business

A house talked to me 馃槼

Who knew designing houses could also turn into a dick-measuring contest?

Casa Batll贸 interior

I recently visited Casa Batll贸, which is a really aesthetic house in Spain. I had a great experience there and thought there might be some things we could apply to the way we serve customers.

I talked about my ticket-buying experience in my previous newsletter. Today’s will be about visiting the house itself.

Going on a house tour

All Casa Batll贸 tickets include an audio tour. Which is a good idea because you’ll learn more about what you see. Instead of, say, visiting a place, taking a dozen photos to prove you’ve been there and then checking it off your list without understanding its significance or history.

Interior of Casa Batll贸

I found the self-led tour experience seamless. Each tour stop is prominently numbered, so you know when to stop and listen to the commentary.

And there’s a clear tour route, too. The house’s design helped with this for sure, because its rooms and narrow corridors naturally corral you through the different stops in the planned order.

Narrow corridor in one of Casa Batll贸's upper floors
Look at those curves…!

It’s not like how I was at a different attraction and after exiting the building, I entered a huge outdoor space…and had no idea where I was supposed to go next. 馃樁

Along the way, you also get glimpses of the premium experiences. For example, there are certain sections of the house that only VIP ticketholders can enter. If you’re not a VIPeep, you’re limited to peeking in from the outside.

I thought that was smart, because then you’d get tempted to come back鈥攚ith a more expensive ticket!

Amazing audio commentary

I was impressed by how engaging the audio tour was.

Being able to listen to the tour commentary in English was pretty much a given in Spain, but the commentary was delivered with enthusiasm and variations in tone. (Unlike the more monotonous tour commentaries at some places whose names I shall not mention…) There was also background music!

A male speaker delivered the main commentary. And the house also had her own “voice” during the tour, talking in a mysterious, semi-whispery tone. At the end of the tour, “she” said we (the visitors) are now a part of it/her (because the money we paid for our visit will go towards the house’s upkeep lolllll).

I was confused by the female voice in the commentary at first, but once I realised what was going on, I thought it was a nice touch.

Speaking your customer’s language

So, how could all this inspire the way you serve customers?

  • Provide a seamless customer experience. Exactly how you do this will depend on your business, but it could be walking the customer through your service process in advance so they know what to expect. And also, be present every step of the way! If your customer has a question, answer it promptly. Don’t leave them hanging or trying to figure out what to do next on their own.
  • Overdeliver. Go above and beyond to provide excellent service. Give them what you promised鈥攁nd more. Surprise them (in a good way) wherever you can.

And also…speak your customer’s language.

This is more of a postscript. After leaving Casa Batll贸, I came back about an hour later (I stayed outside and didn’t re-enter) with a local friend. She knew quite a bit about Barcelona’s architecture and proceeded to point out to me all sorts of details I hadn’t noticed or learnt about during the tour.

She told stories, like how some marble pillars near one of Casa Batll贸’s windows were there only because one of the neighbouring houses (owned by a rich family) had similar pillars and the Batll贸 family wanted to have their own to show they were also rich. The pillars don’t actually serve any structural function LOL.

Marble pillars in Casa Batll贸
These are the marble pillars in question I believe

And also breathlessly told me things in casual language like:

“There are regulations that say you can only build buildings this high. So, architects try to make their buildings look taller than the others because they all want to show they have the biggest dick.

So, like, you see this building has this feature to make it look taller, while this other building has this other feature…”

(this isn’t a word-for-word quote but I tried to capture the spirit of it)

Her commentary took a totally different approach from the “proper” pre-recorded commentary I listened to in Casa Batll贸. But I found it just as informative and engaging, if not more so. 馃槀

More freelancer news

Longer stays for Thailand digital nomad visa holders…

Thailand has extended the validity of its “Destination Thailand Visa” for digital nomads from 60 days to 5 years from June 2024 onwards.

The visa holder can live in Thailand for up to 180 consecutive days per stay. After that, they have to leave and then re-enter the country for another 180 days max, and then leave and return again etc, to continue staying there for up to 5 years.

More details here. (This is not an official Thai government page. I had trouble finding info on the digital nomad visa on the Thai immigration bureau and e-visa websites, so if you have leads on this, let me know!)

…but the digital nomad life (in any country) isn’t always glamorous

If you’re thinking of becoming a digital nomad, be aware of the potential downsides like:

  • Spending a lot of money on flights, accoms and sightseeing
  • Having difficulty balancing work and travelling
  • Feeling lonely as the people you meet on your travels don’t stick around for long

Some digital nomads talk about their experiences with these here. They aren’t freelancers, but some of their perspectives are still relevant.

You’ll need a Straits Times premium subscription to read the article. If you don’t have one, access the article for free here by logging in with your library membership and going to the 9 June edition of the e-paper.

This post was first published in my email newsletter on 20 Jun 2024. If you liked it, sign up for my newsletter here:

Tan Siew Ann
I鈥檓 a freelance writer for some of the most amazing software businesses in the world. On this blog, I share tips on how you, too, can run a sustainable and meaningful freelance business. Let鈥檚 forge your freedom. 馃挭

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