Link To Guest Website: https://www.andeandiscovery.com
Title: “Customized Educational Tours To South America”
Guest: Damon Corkin – Andean Discovery
Interviewer: Jeffrey Davis – MAGE LLC
Click here to read the transcript
Well, welcome back to all of the listeners of Radio Entrepreneurs. We are back in the studio and we are screaming stories everyday of entrepreneurship and how people are dealing with business and what they’re doing in business. And our next guest, Damon Corkin, a founder and travelled director of Andean Discovery. Is that correct? Is that correct? Andy and discovery, then you are a big lens of south America, right? We
Love south America. We don’t want
It to tell us about why did you tell us about the business?
Sure. Yeah, so we offer a customized tours for M families, couples and educational organizations to several destinations in south America, primarily a, the Galapagos, Machu Picchu, Padagonia and Columbia,
Not a bad assortment. Why did you pick those areas?
Damon (1m 2s):
My roots sort of go back to Ecuador. I’m actually what I was in high school. I went on an educational trip to the Amazon rain forest, to the Andes, a central Andes of Ecuador and the cloud forest area, and just completely fell in love with the country. I fell in love with the people, the language. And so I came back and that was just a inspired me to go on and learn Spanish and, and continue, you know, studying Latin America. And so it brought me back there years later,
Jeffrey (1m 35s):
It has as COVID effect to travel to south America. And how are you dealing with that?
Damon (1m 41s):
Yes. So right now, a fortunately I can say that not only is there a light at the end of the tunnel, we are seeing the lights, we are feeling the lights, a it’s needless to say, it’s been a challenging time, you know, March, 2020, we we’re, battened down the hatches and a hunkering down. And you know, like everybody had no idea what was going on, but of course the travel industry a was significantly affected. And, you know, we, it it’s been a long road and a lot of re bookings, a lot of people who are a fortunately, you know, what a lot of our guest’s, you know, are willing to stay with us, but just book for the future. And then now of course, the people that are vaccinated I’m the spring has just been great, both for travel people, traveling, but people planning future travel.
Damon (2m 30s):
Jeffrey (2m 31s):
Tell us about your evolution in to starting this business.
Damon (2m 35s):
Yeah, so I, I studied Spanish and business in school, and then I had the opportunity to, to live a broad, a little bit and Spain, and you hone, hone up on hunting in my Spanish, speaking a skills and M for my love of travel. When I was a kid, you know, a fortunate, I was able to travel a pretty good amount, particularly when my mother who would take me on work trips and just got that travel bug from an early age. And so, excuse me. So when I graduated school, you know, thinking, what am I going to do? What am I going to do it well, let’s work and travel. Let’s give it a shot. And I ended up working for an educational travel company, a in Boston, and worked with teachers to help set up trips around the us.
Damon (3m 23s):
So it was mainly domestic, uhm, but they have my department also offer for Puerto Rico. So that was sort of my first step into the international Spanish speaking world have of travel M in the travel industry. And so they sent me down, there are a few times and was able to, you know, set up some people to people, a cross-cultural programs for the teachers up here in the teachers down in there. And then they switched gears really. And a, it was, it was into sort of the adventure travel side of things. And I worked for an African tour operator, prominent African tour operator in the Boston area and was the director of Kilimanjaro programs there for about three years.
Damon (4m 3s):
And that was just amazing experience getting to learn more about the adventure site of travel a little bit more about sort of the, the, the high-end luxury side, have adventure travel and just really high level of customer service and customization of trips, taking people so far from their homes, but making sure that its just an, a comfortable and meaningful experience. So what
Jeffrey (4m 29s):
Makes you, you guys are a unique at what you do.
Damon (4m 34s):
Oh, that’s a good question. I think that because we are, I’m really in tune M to not only are travelers needs and our guests needs, but we are also in tuned on the ground a in our destination’s because we’re not a travel agent, we’re not a travel agency. You know, a lot of people think that I’m a travel company is as a travel agency there. So there’s different types of travel companies, but we’re actually a tour operator. And that means that not only, you know, are we here in the us, I’m in, are, are office just outside of Boston, but we have our local teams on the ground in south America. So a I’m on the phone, I’m on Skype, I’m on zoom, you know, all day long with a, with our guests, but also with our team, our operations team in country, we’re coordinating guides, we’re vetting guides.
Damon (5m 24s):
We have are guides that umm, you know, that we know and love and they have been with us for years. And so it, it it’s really a personalized, not only from the planning stages, but on the ground. You know, when you’re there, you’re with one of our people there with our staff. And I think a lot of people, no a guide because sort of make or break a trip. You know, it’s really important to have a good fit and to have somebody who’s not only knowledgeable, but passionate about sharing, you know, there country and their culture with our guests and of course keeping safety in mind. So I think, you know, us being able to be in tune to every aspect of the trip from start to finish and just are constant drive to make sure that we’re always improving our itineraries and our programs.
Damon (6m 10s):
And if there is a hiccup, you know, that happens in child as a, as a delayed flight is a delayed bag, but we’re on it. You know, our team is really, you know, all about making sure that it is a once in a lifetime experience, but if something does happen, you know, we’re on it and we’re just able to, to make it smooth.
Jeffrey (6m 29s):
So when you say were a, you know, we use to see travel agencies almost in every strip mall, a, you know, a 30, 40 years ago, you don’t see them anymore. Who’s the weird that who’s the team.
Damon (6m 40s):
Yeah. So we have, are, are, you know, are staff have folks who help the trip planning process. So people who, you know, do the initial umm, conversations with, with, with guests, with a potential guests who are trying to figure out what they want to do it because it’s pretty overwhelming. I mean, if you Google, you know, Galapagos on a cruise or a Galapagos trip, it’s a, it’s overwhelming. You know, I haven’t, I haven’t done that in a well, but I hear people and they come to us because they are like, please help us out. There’s so many options. Do I want this cruise or that cruise, or are a big boater, a small boat? Or did I want to a land based trip, a M seasick, but is this gonna be okay?
Damon (7m 21s):
And so our first step is it that’s the team is really just, you know, talking to guests about what they want to do, what we offer and helping them navigate the best options for them because there’s so many different ways that you can visit the Galapagos. So I think that first piece really is, is us listening to people and M and, and seeing if you were a good fit for them. And if the type of a trip that we offer, it’s something that they were interested in and umm, what first and foremost that they want. And then we have our, are our team, umm, you know, on the ground, he’s making everything happen from, umm, you know, are our boats and the Galapagos and coordinating from island to island or you know, the, the romantic anniversary dinner or the 50th anniversary or whatever it may be.
Damon (8m 11s):
So, so that, you know, it’s a, it’s really a team effort and you know, everybody is sort of on board that mission just to make sure that it’s a, it’s a smooth and unforgettable experience for our guests.
Jeffrey (8m 26s):
So, you know, a projecting ahead, there was a lot of technology changes that we’re all going through. How’s travel, going to change it. Do you think in the next couple of years,
Damon (8m 36s):
I think that there’s a lot of things that are going to change. And I think there’s, I’m a huge technology piece. That’s is a big sort of a question mark, in terms of sort of the, do it yourself a on your own or you know, apps. I think that nothing at the end of the day is going to replace experience and people and you no knowledge of a destination and a people that are making sure that everything go correctly from start to finish. When you mentioned technology, you know, it makes me think of, you know, booking.com or hotels.com and I mean, you name it.
Damon (9m 23s):
There’s all sorts of, of shutoffs have these going in every direction. But when you plan a trip abroad, especially two, a developing country with so many logistical elements, umm, you know, you can press a button and have all of those things come to fruition and, and, and make an experience like that happen. So I think technology in that context is really a different avenue. I think that, you know, people who are do it yourselfers and people who want to book travel, there will be technological. Umm, you know, Avenue’s to make that easy, but that, that, that experience will be different than, and then, you know, something that is an experience where you can sit back, relax and spend your time and joining the destination and with their loved ones and not having to worry about the organization of the experience.
Damon (10m 21s):
And now the technology for us internally is, is amazing how much it’s facilitated, just cloud-based information and you know, real time information about Travellers and itineraries, just being communicated to cell phones and to, you know, WhatsApp technology has just completely helped us in every sense to stay in touch with our team and be fully connected even for our guests to be connected to us, you know, 24 hours a day when they’re traveling, you know, if need be,
Jeffrey (10m 56s):
It’s all pretty exciting. And the, you know, I’m on board for my trip to the Galapagos. So I’ve been there already and it was quite wonderful. I enjoyed it. And if somebody else is looking to go to south America and these wonderful destinations as the world opens up again, how do they find you?
Damon (11m 14s):
Yeah, they can go to our website Andeandiscovery.com or they can give us a call on1-800-893-0196 and Eastern time, 9:00 – 5:00. And I can obviously shoot us an email, travel at a adventure, a excuse me, to travel at any and discovered that I come. And so we’d love to chat with people and, you know, give some friendly travel advice. If nothing else we love talking about south America and ’em so give us a, give us a call.
Jeffrey (11m 47s):
A great thanks for being on the show today. We appreciate it. I hope you come back again and safe travels and remind everybody, this is Radio Entrepreneurs.
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