IncPlan.net works with Entrepreneurs from all over the globe. We find it incredibly exciting to work with people who are pursuing their dreams with energy and success. The Start-Up Spotlight Profile series shares the stories of these dynamic achievers. Today we would like to present our Entrepreneurs of the Week, Jane and Fraser Tyrrell, Owners of Costa Rica Rios.
Jane (New Zealand) and Fraser (Scotland) Tyrrell – owners of Costa Rica Rios, have a background of travel and adventure. Coming from different sides of the globe they both set out backpacking at a young age, traveling through the different continents until they eventually met by chance, while working in the Caribbean, at the turn of the century. Both have a background in hospitality, having worked for tour companies in New Zealand and Europe and having worked on luxury yachts in the Caribbean. They have an eye for detail and customer service and are continually striving to improve their clients’ vacations. After trying unsuccessfully to buy a business in the British Virgin Islands they searched the globe for something challenging but within their capabilities. While on a “gap year” in Scotland they checked out all sorts of tourism businesses but in 2007 Costa Rica Rios captured their imagination and their hearts. They weighed up the risks and after visiting the country and checking out the business in person, decided they had two choices. Forget about it and live a normal life or take the chance and move to Costa Rica. Tempting as it was to say no, they let their adventurous spirit take over and decided to have a go! Their motto is “never die regretting something you didn’t try”. They continue providing fantastic trips and service, and are excited to expand the company so many more people can experience the magic of Costa Rica.
Who is Cosa Rica Rios?
Costa Rica Rios is a family run, multi-sport adventure based company that has been operating tours in Costa Rica since 1995. As their equipment warehouse and logistical office are located in Costa Rica 365 days a year, they have personally explored and enjoyed many of the region’s attractions and know which ones will give their customers the best experience. When it comes to outdoor activities in Costa Rica, Costa Rica Rios sets the standard. With highly trained, bilingual, and very enthusiastic guides, their trips are all based around having a fun, adventurous time outdoors in a safety conscious environment.
Since the early 2000’s, Costa Rica Rios have offered the ‘Week of Adventures‘ and ‘Week of Rivers‘ trips, which have scheduled departures allowing individuals, couples, families or friends to sign up on a group tour. The tours are all inclusive of ground transportation within Costa Rica, adventure activities, entrance fees, meals, accommodations, and professional, bilingual guides. On a Week of Adventures the guests will experience a variety of activities, including whitewater rafting, zipline canopy tours, inflatable kayaking, mountain biking down a volcano, jungle stay, surfing, snorkeling and wildlife spotting at Caribbean beaches. The Week of Rivers is a specialist trip for experienced whitewater paddlers. They visit a variety of rivers, in their choice of kayaks or canoes from our extensive modern hire fleet, led safely downstream by our expert guides.
The business was a fairly successful adventure company relying heavily on repeat and referral customers but when the economic crisis hit, a lot of that dried up. Jane and Fraser realized they had to make drastic changes to their way of doing things, rather than following the previous owner’s way. They worked together with a local web designer and created a dynamic new website and sourced an amazing SEO company. Together they have learned to be more creative and modern in their marketing, making use of social media sites and online publicity. They have tweaked their existing tours until they gleam with excitement and quality and have recently composed a wide range of custom tours and adventure honeymoons which are proving to be a popular new addition. Key to their success is their commitment to excellent customer service.
Adapting to the Changing Market
Some of the greatest challenges in moving to Costa Rica and buying a new business were obvious; learning Spanish, making friends, learning about business processes and requirements in a foreign country. Others were less obvious but even more essential; building the best team of guides and staff, building relationships with local transport providers and other resources. It has taken a few years but they now feel they have a good understanding of the culture, team building and leadership, and the dynamics of dealing a variety of small businesses. On a more personal note, it was an exciting start to their new life in a new country, but also rather stressful to find out they were going to have their first child 8 months after arriving. Talk about leaping in, boots and all.
A Company that Gives Back
Costa Rica Rios is a growing company with a large environmental conscience. They are proud members of 1% For The Planet whereby they donate 1% of their annual turnover to a non-profit environmental organization, so that a percentage of every trip price goes towards protecting the world we live in and the beautiful natural settings their customers come to see. Costa Rica Rios operates on a “no-trace” policy, leaving no footprints, taking only photos (and memories). They recycle, reuse and reduce their waste. They donate to the local orphanage and to needy families and ask their clients to bring toys, books, used or new clothing or to consider cash donations to help out the local community where they are spending their vacation. They have visited many hotels within the country and always recommend hotels with sustainable tourism certification or at the very least environmentally friendly practices. When not operating their own activities (on custom tours to other parts of the country) they use transport and tour companies who are ethical and environmentally conscious.
Costa Rica Rios have been voted one of “The Best Adventure Outfitters On Earth” by National Geographic Adventure, the travel industries’ equivalent of a certificate of excellence. In addition, the company is recommended by Frommer’s, Let’s Go Guidebook, as well as Lonely Planet.