When did you open Ride On Bolivia Biking and what inspired you to do so?
We opened in August 2015. We had decided to open a family business that made the most of the diverse experience set of everyone involved; I had worked in the tourism industry for 8 years, my husband had been a Tour Guide for 10 years and my father had been the Manager at a bank here in Bolivia for many years (so we had a good mix of industry knowledge and front of house experience). Once we came up with the idea, my mother also got involved with the catering side of the business.
Our main inspiration was the desire to open a family business but it was also very important to us that we created something of great quality that both tourists and Bolivians could enjoy. Whilst exploring our options, we saw that activity services in the area were not great - we wanted to help change that! Last but certainly not least - we are from the area and wanted to show the world our home!
What makes your business different?
We like to believe we have a very personalised service; we see every single tourist as an individual with different needs. Safety is incredibly important to us and as such we invest a lot of money in quality equipment - we source most of our equipment from the US (we actually sacrifice some profit here but it's worth it!). We have a max of 12 riders per group which allows us to make sure we can give a personal and safe service.
What has been the most rewarding part of opening the business?
Receiving the tourist's feedback after the first tours was an amazing feeling - we got great feedback which meant we were actually doing it correctly after so much planning and effort had gone into making it happen. It was an incredibly happy moment as all the hard work paid off. We are lucky enough to still get great feedback to this day!
What has been your biggest challenge and how have you overcome this?
To be honest, the biggest challenge has been working with your own family! There some fantastic moments but naturally also some difficult ones. We have lots of different ideas given our range of backgrounds so we have lots of discussions! I also have four children so it can, at times, be difficult to juggle everything (but we make it work!).
Communication has been essential. We all agreed from the beginning that the most important thing was to give tourists the best possible experience. By staying true to this, we are always able to find a resolution that works!
What's next for Ride On Bolivia Biking?
Actually we have a couple of ongoing projects at the moment. We are currently building our own restaurant and hostel for after-ride catering. Previously we have used another hostel's facilities but moving forward we will have our own which will allow us to give our guests an even better experience!
Secondly, we will very soon be working will dual-suspension bikes. We have ordered the bikes from the US and are looking forward to them arriving so we can give our guests more options. We are always thinking of ways to grow and improve so I'm sure there will be more soon!
How has Tab helped Ride On Bolivia Biking?
Tab really has helped us a lot. I'd seen Tab working in a hostel and was keen to work with them. It's been amazing how easy they are to work with. It takes no more than 4 minutes to send an advance booking link and for the customer to pay (it's perfect if they're in a rush, for example).
Customers also like Tab as it gives them the chance to pay for their tour immediately. In-person, the app is so easy to work with. Even my mother who speak no English finds it very easy to use the app! In Bolivia there are a lot of ATM and credit card fees - Tab is a way better option and lots of tourists prefer it. We refer Tab to lots of other companies!
Why is Bolivia a great place to visit?
Bolivia is full of culture - you'll notice it everywhere you go! Geographically, it's very diverse - you could go from being in the mountains to trekking through the jungle in just a couple of hours. It is also still relatively inexpensive!
Are there any trends that you've noticed in tourism?
We've noticed that there are a lot more young travellers coming to Bolivia, mostly gap year students between the ages of 18-20. We've also noticed an increase in the number of European tourists to the area.
What would your advice be for anyone thinking about starting their own tourist business?
I think they might be scared to start with and perhaps they should be! Tourism is volatile - sometimes you are incredibly busy and sometimes it's very empty and theres not a lot you can do about it. If you do your research and learn how to do it well, you will be successful. It's a very competitive industry and businesses have a tendency to keep lowering prices. You've got to do your own thing - make sure your pricing is fair and your service is great. It's important to see tourists as people, not just money! You need to appreciate them and understand that they, like you, are working hard, looking after their family and saving money to come and visit your country. Give them a fantastic experience - that's the key!