How Small Tour Companies Elevate Vacations

July 26, 2016, Kyla Steeves

Whistler has captured the attention of travelers from all over the world, and we spoke to Keenan Moses, owner of Whistler Eco Tours to get an idea of how smaller businesses have contributed to that recognition. Modern travelers are hoping to have individualized experiences and to discover destinations untouched by many others. Another emerging theme of modern travel is the desire to disconnect from all devices for the duration of one’s vacation. These trends are widening the already sizeable niche for small tour companies

Moses has been hard at work for the last fifteen years creating a platform that can engage visitors with Whistler’s Flora and Fauna. The city has quickly become a global destination for many different interests, “Whistler is definitely on the map, I’m pretty happy to be a part of it” says Moses. Popularized first by its incredible winter sport terrain, the city has recently opened a number of summer attractions, and downtown Whistler has become a tourist attraction in itself.

A large majority of people vacationing in Whistler are from industrialized, densely populated cities – meaning that they don’t spend a lot of time outdoors. Moses tells us, “our motto is ‘bring people back to nature’…We are getting them out of the city, getting them into our forests, [and] our waterways.” Guides also use this opportunity to exhibit the effects of climate change and social issues, “how Wetlands aren’t protected in British Columbia” as an example. Through showcasing lesser known destinations such as these, smaller tour companies allow visitors to experience sights and sensations that they otherwise might never realize.

Operating in a largely competitive tourist destination has its challenges for small businesses. Given that the majority of the population on any given day is tourists, Moses explains that it can be hard to keep an adequate amount of employees, “It’s tough, there’s just so many aspects. You know sometimes I feel like I’m a psychologist to all my staff, and other times I feel like I’m this small-time banker, I’m also a guy to jump in the canoe and take someone down the river if that’s what we need to do; [there is] so much going on, I wear a lot of hats.”

Keenan claims that much of Whistler is only just emerging into technological modernity, “We’ve just come out of the last millennium, and we’re coming out slowly,” he describes the contrast of running his business before and after using Checkfront as, “like night and day…we’re trying to use Checkfront for our whole POS system, it [has] been absolutely brilliant.” Like many small business owners, he looks forward to his company becoming more self-sufficient, “Once everything is in place, and I’m hoping that’s just about to happen, then I can just sit back and let the wheels turn.”

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