Why do we site visit our locations before we take you there?
*Quick note* I write this post because a quick trip to Fiji and Costa Rica came up this week. Because I want to do some live blogging on location, I am going to push the last week of the Travel Planning Series back a couple of weeks. ** Hope that’s ok!
Because I own an adventure travel company, most people assume that I just travel the world for free, sip pina coladas and get a tan. Is that true? Is it really the perfect job? Well, yes….after all, we are getting ready to leave for a month of visiting some new dive operations and it’s going to be fun…..and no…it is not free and sometimes quite frustrating to find the “right” place that we can share with the tribe.
First, owning your own company is fun. At this point in my life, I can’t imagine working for anyone else but me! But it’s also stressful because you and you alone are responsible and accountable to make sure everything is just right. You need to wear many hats if it’s a small company like ours. You need to be CEO, CFO, Marketer, Blogger, Expedition Leader and the one who rinses the dive gear at the end of the trip. But you also are the one who gets to lead the trips to Fiji, Costa Rica, Indonesia and Palau and get the tan and drink the umbrella drink. And you get to check them out ahead of time.
The internet is a great research tool especially for travel. But you can’t smell through the internet, you can’t taste through the internet and you can’t see what’s just around the corner on the internet. A lot of people seem to have forgotten this and we’ve found that when we do, inevitably, we end up with something unexpected.
How do YOU benefit from my suntan?
At Live Adventurously, we have a strict policy that we will only guide guests and friends to a place we have personally checked out and this is for numerous reasons.
*We all want to know that the dive operation is safe
*We all want to personally vet and select the best local divemasters and guides. We all know what a huge discrepancy there is between divemasters and what a big difference it makes.
*We all want to make sure the dive op is diving the best sites, not just the most convenient
*We all want to make sure that the rooms are as good as they look on the internet and pick out specific rooms for our guests. All rooms are NOT equal.
*We all want to check out the cuisine. We can’t taste over the internet.
*We all want to explore the area for interesting and unusual cultural activities. This is the kind of unique stuff that you only find when you are there
*We arrange for special dinners and activities
*We all want to be sure there is an adequate arrangement for audio/visual equipment for talks, slide shows and video presentations
*And, we all want to be sure the diving kicks butt and is really as good as they say it is
What can go wrong?
Here are two examples of exactly why we do site visits. We recently went to a beautiful Caribbean island for a site visit. We were wined and dined, given spa treatments, upgrades in accommodations and even a room with a private butler and swimming pool INSIDE our room. The resort was amazing, the staff exceptional, the food exquisite, the property beautiful and the island picturesque. Its now one of our favorite Caribbean resorts. The last time we had visited the island the diving was also superb but it had been 10 years. We were stunned when we got in the water, the reefs were algae covered and dead and the largest fish was miniscule! We were crest fallen. Its a fantastic resort, but we would never guide a dive expedition there.
There is a magnificent over water resort on the island of Bora Bora. Yes, you can picture it…idyllic…white sand, turquoise water, beautiful reef fish swimming below your deck. The weather is perfect the company supreme….but wait….what’s that smell??? OMG, I paid $800 a night for this??? Yes, this particular resort costing millions of dollars was built across the water from the landfill and when the wind blows in that direction….look out! I would be horrified to be guiding guests and friends here sight unseen…..how would I repair that??? But if I had not been to and stayed at the resort, I would have never known. Typical FAM (familiarization) trips for travel agents often consist of multiple days of traipsing through four or five properties a day. They are grueling! If the wind had not been blowing that day you would have never known. But, by actually staying at the location and experiencing it gives you a completely different view.
Yes, site visits are fun but they are also work. It is important to dig in deep and find the good, bad and the ugly about a resort, dive operator and dive sites. While it involves great diving, it also involves meetings, property walk thru, individual room walk thru and sometimes….like in the Caribbean, hard decisions when you have to tell the lovely hotelier that after all their hard work, you simply can’t use their resort.
Is there really a free lunch?
Every trip involves financial resources even if the hotel comps your visit. You still have to get there which in our business can involve thousands of company dollars and being away from the office for weeks on end. There are always incidental costs of getting around, overnights in hotels on the way out and back etc…. So it is very important for us to do our research on the location and be almost 100% sure it will work for us before we shell out the bucks and take up the time and resources of the resort and dive operation. In the case of the Caribbean resort, we had to find a way to recoup those costs and also find another location.
In the end, even though I do get a tan, you, our guests and friends, are the biggest beneficiaries of our site visits. You can be assured that you are getting the best the area has to offer. We will have personally picked out your room, your divemaster, your dive boat and perhaps even your table at the restaurant.
Why Travel with Us?
Live-Adventurously has always stood for adventure with a safety net. That extends beyond your physical safety on a dive vacation. It is your insurance that your vacation WILL be a trip of a lifetime and you can be safe in knowing we have you covered!
When you book your next dive trip, be sure you are trusting your dollars and time to someone who has been to, dived and stayed at the resort. You may pay a bit more but they will be dollars well spent!
Have you had a bad experience because you didn’t know anything about the resort you booked? Do tell!!
See you next week in Fiji!!