-It’s time again to hear from the community. Colombia, is a rapidly growing tourist destination, yet is still developing and changing rapidly over the last 10 years. Julio Casadiego, is the owner operator of Colombia Travel Operator in Medellin, Colombia. I sat down with him at his office to talk about how he creates better tour experiences and how he would run his business differently, if he could do it all again.
What are you doing to create better tour experiences for your target guests?
-Listening to your guests – constantly getting feedback directly from them about what works and what doesn’t.
-Adding value in each tour – if there is another addition to augment the tour and enhance it, investigate it. e.g. Visiting a coffee farm – and adding a coffee lab visit on a coffee tour.
-The most popular attraction in Medellin, is the neighborhood of Comuna 13 – is finding a different spin on the tour in this case Colombia Travel Operator partnered with a foundation of an African Colombian group to create a different angle to their stories for this now famous neighborhood in Medellin.
- Dropping price on tours to compete is a mistake it’s difficult to go back and raise prices.
Guest Experience – What about your guides?
-Training is essential part of the business as well, and teaching them how to create and tell stories, that is what makes better tours.
-Let guides put their unique stamp on their stories, for example:
- One of their guides loves to share stories about his family, and another takes her experiences from living and working in Europe and applies it to her guiding in Colombia.
How to Ride the wave of changes in the industry?
-Investing in their business.
-Hire well and pay well – Guides and drivers are the backbone of our business.
-Invest in technology- website, SEO and software – makes us better and more effective.
-The money will come back with better profits and every penny you put into the budget you will see the return.
- Learn how to delegate, and realize that can’t do everything and run all aspects of your business.
- Julio himself, believes in constant improvement and started his masters in tourism.
- His team is studying and learning English to improve their customer service, but you have to give them the time and resources to do it.
What would you do differently on your business if you started it today:
-As tourism in Colombia is growing rapidly and veteran in the Colombian market
- He won a entrepreneurs contest to start a business and received a grant to build a website.
-In the beginning he didn’t do the research to see who could help with that. Now he does his research – how to contract a company. Five years ago made his own site and learned website building again. – if you know what questions to ask it makes a big difference.
- Purpose – Understanding how his tour can change lives to communities and how to help a community. We are helping new entrepreneurs – making new tours, that is really important for us.
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