How the Zapos frog became the face of Amazing Vacations

People sometimes ask why the “frog” was chosen as the logo for our company, Amazing Vacations. Originally as we were starting the company we thought that people would easily be able to recognize and associate a frog with Costa Rica, because the red eyed frog has been used to promote Costa Rica tourism for years. 

It wasn’t until about a year after we had started Amazing Vacations Costa Rica (www.AmazingVacationsCostaRica.com) and had several dozen successful trips for family and adventure travelers to Costa Rica that I came to the realization that the frog which translates to “zapo” in Spanish took on a much more meaningful lesson that I think all businesses strive to achieve.

Red Eyed Tree Frog

One day while driving with Walter in Costa Rica, we were talking about managing growth in the company and  trying to find the best people to be part of our team of amazing employees.  We started talking about how to identify the best people at different hotels and excursion companies so that our guests could have the best experience possible during their trips.

It was during that conversation that he explained to me that the type of people we were looking for were called “Zapos” by his team in Costa Rica. The word Zapo has a several meanings in Costa Rica. Zapo translates to frog. It can also be a word used for name calling in a negative way. And… it can also be a nickname for a type of worker that Walter believes you’ll only find in about the top 5-10% of workers and guides no matter where you go in the world. 

Walter went on to explain that amongst his team they label certain people as Zapos when they aren’t lazy and are eager to learn and instinctively find ways to pitch in and help. He further went on to share that these are the river guides who do their job on the river and then at night when they could be relaxing, they are still interacting with guests, making sure everyone is smiling and are even taking around a pitcher of juice or water to top off the glasses of the guests at the end of the night.

These are the employees that go way above and beyond the call of duty and any expectation of the employer, and they do it with a genuine smile because they absolutely LOVE what they do and they LOVE helping others. You know it when you find one of these workers as your server at a restaurant or as a guide. They leave you with a smile and they are the type of people that always seem to get more tips than the rest of the workers.

Zapos are the workers that turn the lights out at night and are the ones who are the first to arrive in the morning. To them, their job isn’t something they have to do each day. It is what they would choose to do over anything else.

Walter told me that after working more than 15 years with guides in many companies, that many people have the makings of a great Zapo – but depending on the people they work with and are trained by – they can go either direction. They can become a Zapo, just a good worker, or someone that takes away from the team.

He further explained that if he could find people with a good attitude and a desire to learn and be teachable that most of the time it was possible to teach by example the “Zapo” behaviors and attitudes. If he could do that for that person, it would be something that would change the rest of their life and career, no matter where they decided to work.

Since that day with Walter, I’ve looked at our “Zapo” frog logo differently. I still notice Zapo servers at restaurants and other places when I’m out. But the word Zapo has come to symbolize the type of company we are and the type of company I hope we will always be.

It represents the amazing people that make up our entire team, from the guides, drivers, back office and everyone that interacts with our guests each day. We want to be putting smiles on peoples faces, ensuring they have an Amazing experience when they interact with anyone from our team.  We strive every day for everyone that interacts with our company to have a “Zapo” experience

If you are thinking of traveling to Costa Rica with your family, with a small group or just a couples get away, we hope that we’ll be able to have a chance to introduce you to what will be the best experience you’ve ever had on a trip.

Pura Vida!

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