Voyagers Travel Company is a very successful travel agent based in New Jersey with an Ecuador-based boutique tour operator. The company specializes in travel to South America and has an important selection of expedition cruise options for exploring the Galapagos.
We talked to Andre Robles, who runs the business about the ins and outs below.
My name is Andre Robles, and I am an entrepreneur and travel agent specialising in South American custom trips. With a mixed Peruvian/American heritage myself, as well as family connections in Ecuador, I spent a lot of my younger years travelling and exploring the beauty of the South American continent – not only discovering my family’s hometown of Lima, but also other fascinating regions such as the Amazon River basin, coastal islands and cloud forests – and these experiences opened my eyes to the wonders that travel can bring. A turning point in my life came when I helped a family from my school prepare for a hike on the Inca trail – not only did I receive an enormous tip, but I also realised just how much I had enjoyed enabling them to enjoy an enriching experience. I had discovered my passion for arranging customised travel itineraries.
Launching My Business
In 2002, I partnered with my aunt, Yolanda Ceron to establish Voyagers Travel, a travel agency dedicated to arranging customised trips to South America. By 2009, we were serving more than three thousand travellers annually, so when the opportunity arose to relocate to Ecuador for two years, it was an obvious move to start up an operations office and establish a boutique tour operator under the Voyagers Travel brand. Within ten years, we had six offices and a presence in Ecuador and Galapagos, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, and Colombia, with staff in each destination offering outstanding service to travellers to ensure they could enjoy the trips of a lifetime.
The Trials And Tribulations Of Entrepreneurial Life
Perhaps the best thing about being an entrepreneur is that I get to work on something for which I have a deep passion. I get to make my own decisions about my future, and I don’t need to depend on anybody else. Even better, I get to visit the places that I recommend to my clients, and have the chance to explore options to suit different travel preferences and tastes. There is always a downside though. I only have myself to rely on to bring in a salary, and that means, certainly in the beginning, that I had to work far longer hours than I ever would have done at a paid job. That’s why it’s so important to really love your career path – without that drive, the chances of sticking with it are incredibly low.
Expecting The Unexpected
If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from my entrepreneurial journey, it’s that a Plan B is never enough. You need a plan C, D, and preferably E too, just in case. The COVID pandemic was a case in point. We had fallen into the trap of becoming complacent before COVID-19 hit, and suddenly the challenges we were facing were unprecedented. Travellers were cancelling their trips, others were postponing, and we even had holidaymakers who were trapped in countries with closed borders. We had to rapidly learn how to work under extreme pressure and to adapt to circumstances in the best possible way. It certainly reinforced the lesson that resilience is a key value in business.
My Driving Force
When the going gets tough, which it inevitably does from time to time, my family and my faith are the primary driving forces that see me through. However, another key factor that spurs me onwards is knowing that I am making a difference, not only in my client’s lives but also in those of the local people that we work with. We aim to deliver transformational experiences that allow our clients to expand their minds and grow as individuals while also enriching the lives of those within the communities that they visit – it’s this knowledge and mission that motivates us to continue striving to offer more varied travel experiences.
What I Would Do Differently
If I had my time over again, there are a few changes that I would make. I would have invested more in the social well-being and conservation of the destinations that our clients visit right from the start – we sponsor several hundred acres of land in Paraguay’s Amazon region, but if we had begun investing earlier, we could have sponsored thousands. I would also have opened offices earlier in each location – leading this team of beautiful people has been such an enriching experience and it would have been even better to embrace their cultural differences far sooner.
Thanks for reading!
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