South American Adventures Unlimited
SA Adventures Unlimited was formed four years ago by Michael and Jill Rodriguez. Michael was a trained geologist, while Jill had a master’s degree in Spanish. They were both avid outdoor enthusiasts and fell in love while trekking across the Andes in Chile. Upon graduation they seized upon the idea of starting their own specialized tour business that would focus on organizing and leading “high-end” adventure trips in South America. Their first trip was a three-week excursion across Ecuador and Peru. The trip was a resounding success, and they became convinced that they could make a livelihood doing something they both enjoyed. After the first year, Adventures Unlimited began to slowly expand the size and scope of the business. The Rodriguezes’ strategy was a simple one. They recruited experienced, reliable people who shared their passion for South America and the outdoors. They helped these people organize specific trips and advertised the excursion over the Internet and in travel magazines. Adventures Unlimited has grown from offering 4 trips a year to having 16 different excursions scheduled, including trips to Central America. They now had an administrative support staff of three people and a relatively stable group of five trip planners/guides whom they hired on a trip-by-trip contract basis. The company enjoyed a high level of repeat business and often used their customers’ suggestions to organize future trips. Although the Rodriguezes were pleased with the success of their venture, they were beginning to encounter problems that worried them about the future. A couple of the tours went over budget because of unanticipated costs, which eroded that year’s profit. In one case, they had to refund 30 percent of the tour fee because a group was stranded five days in Blanco Puente after missing a train connection. They were also having a hard time maintaining the high level of customer satisfaction to which they...
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