In an interview with Forbes last month, Wildland Adventure’s CEO and founder Kurt Kutay gives budding entrepreneurs a peek behind the curtain when it comes to running a successful adventure travel company. It’s important advice for anyone in our industry or anyone trying to run a business with environmental or social responsibility at the forefront.
In a world where the word “authentic” has been watered down to meaninglessness, Kutay explains how to bring decades of adventure experience into every new itinerary without ever using the word:
“First, we create our own flagship itineraries, many of them personalized custom trips. Working with hand-picked local guides, specialized outfitters and boutique accommodations, in local communities we come to know over the years, Wildland Adventures creates the ‘space’ in which our travelers can feel secure and comfortable in an unfamiliar and sometimes wild world, where they can be themselves, open to new experiences, challenges and discoveries, and especially to make new friends among fellow travelers and local people they meet along the journey.”
The adventure travel industry depends on professional business owners who practice what they preach — meaning, you can’t send paying customers to a place you don’t know intimately yourself. Kutay tells readers about how special the adventure niche is:
“Outside of mainstream, packaged tourism, in our realm of adventure and ecotourism one must have real expertise to compete based on detailed destination knowledge derived from personal experience on the ground.”
Wildland Adventures offers dozens of trips in nearly every continent, so when asked how the company manages the complexity of offering so many itineraries, Kutay had this to say:
“By offering a multitude of worldwide destinations, we not only have a variety of trips to offer to repeat travelers, we can maintain an active year-round business and more easily absorb downturns in one country or another due to political developments, natural disasters, or other reasons beyond our control.”
Finally, the interviewer couldn’t ignore the opportunity to ask Kutay about running a successful travel company side-by-side (literally at first, now more figuratively) with his wife, Anne. His advice is probably relevant to any business partnership, even if you’re not married, considering how closely people in this industry end up working together:
“One: Establish clear roles for each other and make them known in the company. Two: Keep personal and professional lives apart. Three: Consider separate office quarters – for many years we sat side by side but as the company grew it was better for staff (and) for us to have my own office. And four: Involve others in management, strategic planning, and decision-making.”
The interview with John Greathouse called “Stressed? This Entrepreneur Says ‘Start Tripping’”, appeared July 26, 2014. The full article has more gems like these from Kutay and is a great read for anyone sitting comfortably in our little corner of the travel industry.