Charey Alex is has started his own adventure tour company, in this article he explains the success factors of his tour company how he did it!
“Let’s go to Portugal,” Said my friend Tanya in the summer of 2011.
I could find Portugal on the map, but I had never met a Portuguese person up to that day.
“What are we supposed to do there?” I asked
“Surfing!” She said
That week was the first time I touched the ocean. I wanted to feel that sensation every day for the rest of my life!
After that trip, I came back to the urban Kiev, but I felt empty on the inside. We were in love with the ocean and organised one-week surf trips two times a year. That did not satisfy our thirst for the ocean.
So, I’ve decided to create an adventure tour company. Our mission is to share our passion and adventures. Create surf trips, motorbike travels and small crazy trips like a go-kart weekends and even a bar crawl in Budapest. We call it “Drink and Drive” tour. Surely we drive first:)
We shared that experience with 500 of our lucky travellers. We were the first, who created surf culture in Ukraine, which is 4500km from the Ocean. We showed a sense of freedom to people and changed their lives. They quit boring jobs, started to do sports, created passion-driven projects.
The passion grew stronger and stronger in the last eight years. Adventure is something I will enjoy until the rest of my life. Since 2012, I’ve spent more than two years surfing. Living near the ocean and creating a happy life. I found joy; I found love and I am making a living!
How did I create an adventure tour company?
It was easy for me to set that first trip. Because I always loved communication and had a talent in action sports. I had almost ten years of experience in freeride skiing and snowboarding. So, I was confident in leading my group into the adventure. I am also quite apt at sales and networking.
My second great passion is understanding and exploring the maps this allowed me to create bright and safe adventures. As I could analyse the terrain well and avoid certain risks.
I created a brand book and design guides. Opened a page on Facebook and started advertising.
I now launch around nine one-week trips per year. I stayed for a month or two in a villa with a stunning view. The take my clients on special adventures.
These are the elements that made my tour company a success.
When launching your own adventure tour company, you need to be a jack of all trades.
You need to be a bit of marketing specialist, a bit of financial manager, a bit of accountant and a bit of a loader)
The equipment doesn’t make Your project go alive. The main driving force is You. So, You really need to spend the time, improving the skills. Actually, people don’t follow the direction or sports type. People follow the idea and personality. You need to be a person; people want to communicate. The person, setting lifestyle standards. You should just be an interesting and friendly person, and to live a life, You try to sell.
The vital skills are:
- Communication. If You feel a lack of this skill, You can go to actor courses, some speech improving courses, etc.
- Honesty. You will never create the community until You start to live the Ideas You tell to the world.
- Confidence. If You really know what you’re doing and how to fix the problems – people will trust You and go with You.
You will need a laptop or a smartphone to take care of all the issues – car rental, surf school booking, villa or hotel.
To differentiate yourself from other tour companies, you need to have a vision. One which people will see and remember. This includes the Name, Design, Web-page, social media pages. All this can cost zero if you do it yourself; what you are selling is an experience, not a service. Your branding is crucial.
I first, documented my crazy travels and gathered a following on social media. I did this both to share my passion and teach others about adventure. This started my brand, it was a base for my future company. It was not long before I had a small but loyal audience. Now I have around 4500 followers on my personal Facebook page.
Personal content is what made us different.
Personal content transmits the experience of being free on the water. Pictures can capture the magic of being at one with nature when surfing. The camera did not matter much, an expensive DSLR, mirrorless camera, or just a smartphone. It doesn’t make a big difference. The most important thing is how and what you capture. If you show emotions, beauty and happiness – the quality is not an issue.
Marketing and SMM skills are important. You need to understand your audience first, then set up a Facebook page and an Instagram account. Create targetted advertising campaigns. If you have skills to design and create posters, this will also come in handy.,
My main platforms to sell the trips are:
The tours we create
We create a real adventure, but our team knows and takes care of all the risks. Our most important features are:
- Total care and service. We know the locations. We know the risks and protect our groups from unpleasant experiences. Also, we know how to make everything much cheaper. So, the price of the adventure with our fees can be similar to the price of individual adventure without a guide.
- We share our values and vision. So every adventure is a unique story, which makes everything around go alive.
Each trip I create is a unique product. When creating these trips I
- make a clear and careful calculation of expenses.
- create a story about the trip. One that elicits the sense of adventure in the reader. I also go about reassuring the with the details, including a clear explanation of what will happen on location.
The details would include
- Trip map/route
- Accommodation with specs and photos
- Daily schedule
- All nutrition, transfer and leisure issues
- Add some great emotional photos from the last trips
- Travel logistics. All transfers, directions and destinations should be carefully checked as well. It’s really easy. Google Maps and Google search can do all the work.
To plan the flights I use Google Flight, Momondo, TripMydream. I analyze the options and try to figure the best way, combining different platforms.
Also, there are nice portals for car rental. For example Holiday rentals, Economycarrentals
Cash flow is what drives this business. Your expenses cannot exceed your income. Each trip should have a minimum number of participants to break even. I keep all my records on
Microsoft Excel and Google drive.
Working on this project is not an issue of income for me. I would even create some adventures with zero income. But generally, you can make quite a good cash on the trips. A regular margin for touristic offers on my market is 30% of costs. I usually do it cheaper.
So, if I make 700$ per week three-week adventure in Portugal for eight persons, it would be around 3840$. But if I make a two-week adventure to Namibia for 6000$ for five persons, we get almost 7000$
Anyway, this project is my passion, so the emotions and drive I get from it makes my life really great, and there is no money in the world that can buy such happiness and mind-changing experiences.
The Current Challenges
The business is chugging along, but my sales are going down.
Lucky, I’ve created a loyal audience on my personal facebook page, using my storytelling and photography skills. Now I have almost 5000 followers. And it’s easier to offer a trip on my facebook, then to create an advertising campaign. On this stage, I’m ready to hire marketing professionals, who will make all the work online.
I plan to extend the number of directions and attractions. Now I have a manager for the motorbike trips department. And tour leaders for the surfing department. Shortly we plan to create some trips without my personal participation. The first goal is to make around 20 trips per year.
Also, as I’m a travelling commercial photographer. I’m starting to create content for different brands throughout the world. So if I go on a trip, it could be a photography job as well.
I created my own company out of my passion: Surfing. I left the comfort of my full-time job, the security of my home town and went in search of adventure while I made a living. I am pretty average, but I feel I have a special passion for the water and this is what has made my business a success!
PS: What came out of this interview for me is, who needs financial freedom when every day is a day pursuing your passion?
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