Summer 2020 – Winding Down, Looking Back and Looking Forward!
Summer 2020 was one for the books, a book I don’t intend to read again. Six months ago, (has it really been six months?), I called the Austin Adventures’ team together and pulled out every coaching trick in the book. At the end of the day we committed to work through all challenges and obstacles and to be stronger — not weaker — on the other side. It all started by staying grounded in the present with an eye on the future and to embracing our core values and putting the customer first. At this meeting we established what would be our A, B, C’s. Anticipate, Be Honest and Communicate. Little did we know this simple formula would be our mantra that would lead us forward for these many months.
As we set out to execute as many domestic adventures as safely possible, we immediately realized the challenges ahead: closed lodging and critical resources and ever changing rules and regulations in and around the National Parks. The only thing we knew is that we knew very little. We just knew that by being prepared for anything and working with our guests and guides in a proactive manner we would not just get through it, but all would be rewarded with the adventure of a lifetime and a much-needed break from today’s news cycle. Guest Annie summed it up well:
“This was my first Austin Adventures trip, but it definitely won’t be my last. I loved how our guides took care of everything for us so we could just focus on having a good time. They gave us our itinerary for the next day at dinner so we could stay mindful of the current day, which was really great. All of the food was amazing, all of the trails and activities were perfect. Even though COVID-19 brought its challenges, I wouldn’t change a thing about our trip. Our guides were able to fix problems before we ever even knew there was an issue and we were so satisfied that we didn’t even care about how it was “supposed” to be.”
While 2020 travelers amounted to only a third of what’s normal, 2021 is already looking strong! We’ve found adventure travelers to be an intrepid, resilient bunch and ready to get out and explore at every opportunity. While traveling during COVID times is not for everyone, those who did were handsomely rewarded. Those who elected to hold off are now planning for an optimistic future.
One thing we can confirm from our own experience. For a travel company to make it through times like these requires…
- hands-on leadership from the top down,
- consistent and honest communication with our travelers,
- willingness to adapt policies to reflect the pain of the times,
- and real empathy from real owners, staff and guides to instill confidence and loyalty within the marketplace.
In 2020 we stayed the course and carried out our tried and true adventures to Alaska, Montana, Yellowstone and Utah. We also adapted our product to reflect changing interest and traveler priorities that include NEW:
During this time, we have strengthened our operations and enhanced the capabilities of our company with key new hires. While many of our fellow companies are laying off staff and guides, Austin Adventures is doubling down and picking up some great talent such as…
And speaking of the future and brighter days, we are…
- holding 2020 trip pricing for 2021,
- adding an abundance of domestic tour departures, including new tours out east,
- reducing (through the end of 2020) our required trip deposit to $250 pp on scheduled departures. We hope this will generate some late 2020 season bookings and encourage early bookings for 2021.
- Maintaining “COVID” induced liberalized cancellation policies.
A new Saturday tradition has also taken hold during these challenging times. With humility I am delighted to report that hundreds of the countless devotees who read my bi-monthly Saturday Musings asked me to carry on and keep communicating! (You can see an example here https://www.austinadventures.com/blog/). When you visit, be sure to sign up for our newsletter and stay in the know on all things Austin Adventures.
Like everyone we are getting really good with the pandemic-driven Zoom approach to reaching out to important constituents. During Virtuoso’s recent Virtual Travel Week I had 120 ten-minute Zoom training calls with some of the top Travel Advisors on the planet. It was so refreshing to talk travel and hear the optimism and commitment to adventure travel in today’s uncertain world. Agents have been through the same hell as we have and the mutual respect and support to rebound was truly encouraging. I have mad respect for these folks on the front lines of travel. Again, I have to note I was humbled by their interest and feedback on how Austin Adventures is becoming a recognized leader in these challenging times.
At the end of the day, life is the Adventure, isn’t it! In the middle of this Pandemic, readers of USA Today rewarded and recognized Austin Adventures for the 2nd year in a row as one of the Top 3 Adventure Travel Companies in the WORLD. We beat a number of the big names again.
I leave you with a quote from German aviator Dieter F. Uchtdorf, a quote I have taped to my monitor: “It’s your reaction to adversity, not adversity itself that determines how your life’s story will develop.”
We will all get through this together!
Dan Austin, Founder and President
Austin Adventures – www.austinadventures.com/
Please feel free to contact me: 800.575.1540 / [email protected]