Jacquie Whitt, American teacher and avid traveler, and Vidal Jaquehua, a licensed tour guide in Peru, co-founded Adios Adventure Travel in 2009. Adios Adventure is not your average travel agency. They specialize in adventure treks in Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia with a staff of Peruvian guides. From startup, the business grew, but according to Whitt, “We were selling lots of short trips to small groups who could choose any travel dates. This is the worst combination of factors to try to make a profit.”
They didn’t want to lose the bookings for small groups of two, so the first few years in business, they would subsidize these tours as they built up their team of guides and established their company brand. “Once we were established enough on social media and our company was positively mentioned in online travel forums, we began charging real prices to cover all the costs, and last year we began charging rates that include real profit” says Whitt.
Adios Travel determined that setting up group departures would be more profitable. Travelers still had the option of selecting custom dates, but the cost would be higher. Adios increased the cost per person for groups of two. This encouraged travelers to invite others to join them. “Larger groups,” says Whitt, “mean lower cost per person.” In August 2014, they began revising their webpages to reflect their new price structure. The timing was important, since August is when travelers begin searching for, and booking 2015 fall Inca trail hikes.
Another change was the addition of tour extensions and destination combinations. “This attracted groups like families who were interested in visiting the Amazon rain forest as well as Machu Picchu and even Lake Titicaca. We came up with itineraries that could be completed within a two-week time slot, which would fit a traditional 14 day vacation model.” Throughout their company history, Adios Adventure Travel focused on service, which Whitt believes helps drive sales. “Whether our clients are staying in budget backpackers’ hostels or five-star luxury hotels does not affect the service we give.”
The price increase did not hurt sales. 2015 saw an increase of business from large groups such as schools and clubs, but groups of two still made up half their bookings. When tallying up their year, the travel agency was pleasantly surprised to find revenues were doubled since 2014, with gross sales exceeding $1 million for the first time.
This article was written by Gillian Burdett for Small Business Pulse