“How do they do it?” My friend, a travel agent in Cuenca, asked in Spanish.
“What do you mean?” I said.
“How do foreigners come to Ecuador and make money from the mountainside?” She continued.
She was referring to how some foreigners come to Ecuador and buy a large lot in the middle of literally no where, I’m talking deep wilderness here, for VERY cheap, often for just a couple thousand dollars per hectare.
Land none of the locals care much about.
Then they put up some very inexpensive ‘local-style” cabins made of bamboo and wood then they turn around and rent them for hundreds of dollars a night.
It’s the Eco-lodge business.
And it’s big money.
And you can’t put one just anywhere, but you can in the Amazon region of Ecuador.
Come on, it IS the Amazon… and Ecuador has it.
Besides, after the Galapagos, the second coolest place to visit in Ecuador, although overlooked by most, is the Amazon Rainforest.
Where else can you see pink river dolphins, silk farms, witch-doctors and thousands of types of orchids and birds.
In fact, most find the Amazon to be far cooler, less humid and with far fewer mosquitos than they thought.
In my opinion, it actually has less mosquitos than many of the greener parts of the coast of Ecuador.
An example of one, and the best known Eco-lodge in Ecuador is Kapawi.
Here are 5 keys to the Eco-Lodge business based on my experience working with them:
5. Get friendly with the natives in the area, what tourists who visit eco-lodges most look for is an interaction with the locals. Hire them, keep an open door policy, be generous with them. You have to spend some time with them and learn what motivates them, it might not be money. Arrange tour visits with your guests to visit their communities.
4. Package deals. Don’t try to sell by the night, sell packaged deals, 3 nights, 4 nights, tours with lodging, etc. If you try to sell by the night the nightly rate might scare even those with the loosest of budgets. Include everything except the flight in.
3. Get cozy with the travel agencies in Quito. I know cause I worked for one, but most of the business eco-lodges get is from the dozens and dozens of Quito travel agencies that sell locally and internationally, approach them, offer them a free fun trip, and most importantly offer them a generous commission to sell your lodge. I’m talking 15%, 20%, even 25% here.
2. Establish your logistics beforehand. The high-end tourist market won’t want to board a bus for more than 3 hours, so check on the locations of the nearest airports and nearby road conditions beforehand.
1. Go after the Galapagos crowd. Many travelers that go to the Galapagos love the idea of starting or finishing their trip with a short jaunt to the Amazon, why not kill two birds with one stone seeing both in one trip? Get friendly with some of the yatchs and travel agencies that sell the Galapagos and see if they’d consider including your lodge in their tour offering.
How should you specifically go about finding the best property deals ideal for an Eco-Lodge?
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