Like many women, I was brought up not to talk about money. But as I schedule our 2015 trips and determine what we'll charge for our adventure trips, I wanted to share some of our pricing principles.
1. Everyone here at Adventures in Good Company loves travel and the outdoors, and has a passion for sharing that love with other women. We want to be accessible to as many women as possible, while making a reasonable living for ourselves.
2. Our prices are based on the actual costs of the trip, plus an additional amount to cover the overhead. We don't use a percentage markup that makes trips with higher costs even more expensive. We don't charge what we think the market can bear. We don't charge more because it's a popular trip. We don't practice premium pricing. We do charge more for trips that take more of our time here in the office.
3. We don't try to make our prices appear lower by not including meals or items that you will end up paying for out of pocket. Some additional costs, such as internal plane flights, are so volatile you would end up paying more for us to make sure we didn't lose money on it. Sometimes we offer optional activities we know not everyone will choose to try (zip lining comes to mind). And some meals may not be included when the flexibility for you to choose where or when you eat outweighs the convenience of having it paid for. In those cases we try to be transparent about exactly what additional expenses you can expect.
4. We don't keep prices down by increasing the group size. Our typical size is 10 to 12 - a manageable number that promotes good group dynamics. The few exceptions are trips that would become prohibitively expensive with our standard group size and that can easily accommodate a larger group.
5. We don't cut rates by not sending an Adventures in Good Company group leader on international trips when we're working with a local partner. It is much easier to untangle problems on a trip and prevent them from occuring again if we have someone there, thus assuring continuing high quality. In addition most international guides have little training in how to enhance the group experience.
6. We don't cut rates by only having one guide on domestic trips. One downside to group travel can be feeling locked into a schedule that might not reflect what you would choose to do or how fast you choose to hike. So for any trip with more than seven participants (again with rare exceptions) we have two guides for maximum flexibility.
7. We don't look for the cheapest local partner. We look for people who pay their employees fairly and who share our vision of sustainable travel. Tourism can be a force for improving the opportunities available to the people who live there, or it can be exploitative. We opt for the former.
8. We know that travel is a luxury and that it isn't possible to make all of our trips available to everyone. What we can do is look for ways to offer trips that are lower cost and still offer incredible value. In the United States we offer several trips that stay at hostels. Internationally we go to at least some countries where costs are lower. Spain and Italy are wonderful - and they are expensive. Bulgaria, the Balkans, and Nicaragua also provide fascinating travel experiences at a lower cost. We offer both.
While the nominal inflation rate may have stayed low, the travel inflation rate certainly has not. Airfares, hotels, meals- all have seen significant increases in the last two years. We will continue to work to design trips that, regardless of price, offer great value.