As a native of Utah, Jason grew up visiting the National Parks, Monuments, and other regions throughout the Western United States. That is where he first fell in love with the history and geology of the area.
As he grew up, he continued to enrich his education and knowledge at nature camps and class trips throughout the Southwest. One of his favorite trips was down to Havasupai Falls and the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. Even when he attended college in California, he continued to enjoy the diverse geological and ecological environments nearby.
He has enjoyed camping, hiking, backpacking, and touring throughout the west for the last 20 years. One of his greatest loves is sharing his passion for the history, geology, and beauty of the Southwestern United States with the tours he hosts.
On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Jason about his experience building an adventure tour operation from scratch over the past six years. With tours running all over the southwestern United States (and now in Oregon!) it’s all about relationship-building. From customers to guides, to all those involved with making these unique experiences happen, building relationship and building trust have been the key to success.
For large tours on the open road, there is a ready solution: buses made specifically for the travel industry. For smaller group tours, Jason was not finding the right mode of transportation. Bench seats in an Econoline might work for very short distances, but not for a 5 to 12-day trip. Through dedication, research, and customization, Jason finally found the right van and now the comfort of travel is remarked on by customers almost as much as the destinations.
That kind of attention to customer experience can set your company apart from the competition. When you’re in a business where the journey is literally as important as the destination, everything that happens between point A and points B becomes important.
As a tour operator, Jason relies on DMOs for information and broader marketing initiatives. He relies on service providers like river rafting companies and glamping outfitters – who could easily undercut him and steal customers away.
It all comes down to trust. That’s why developing relationships is important, from customers to all the players in the travel ecosystem. When you know and trust each other, the opportunity to cooperate gives everyone a fair shake. Wrestling for the same clientele can be nerve-wracking, but you have to put yourself out there and find the people and organizations that are a good fit.
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