How to beat the big boys in Ecuador accepting barter

Like with any small business you put in Ecuador, you’re going to have competitors with DEEP multi-million dollar pockets.

In my case for my 19 room hotel near the Quito airport, I compete with the Wyndham an international chain.

So how can a little guy like me or you when against these corporate dicks.

Of course, there’s always charge less than them.

But there’s other creative ways to beat these guys too.

Like what I started to do this week: Offering alternative payment methods.

For instance a month ago on a trip to the States I noticed many younger people in the States like my brother pay for everything with Cash App, a free phone application that connects to your bank account and allows you to make payments to other users quickly and super easy.  I now accept Cash App.

You could also try accepting Bitcoin.  It’s as easy as creating a digital wallet through an app like Blockchain.  Search for it on Google Play Store.  Download and you get a digital address people can send Bitcoin too. It has a learning curve but you get the hang of it quickly.  I now accept Bitcoin.

You could also accept barter.  Why should we be forced to always accept fiat money, aka cash?  Why not except goods in exchange for a service.  For instance, I have someone coming from the States bring me something they buy (so they can verify the contents), and on arrival I reimburse what they spent as per their receipt for the item and for the act of bringing it I offer the room free. If they item can net a $100 gain here, I now sold my normally $40 room for $100.  I now accept barter, too.  Email me if you need a room.

The big guys move a lot slower and it may be years before they adopt these alternative payment options that gives you the advantage in the eyes of some customers.

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Flying standby to Ecuador without getting bumped

Working near the airport I have a chance to converse daily with travelers who get bumped trying to fly standby to or from Ecuador.

Thing is, most international airlines like Delta, United or Copa only have one flight to and from Ecuador daily.

So especially in peak season chances of getting on your first try are slim.

Here’s what I’d do to greatly improve your chances…

1. Don’t fly during peak season in Ecuador which is July-August and late December to early April.

2. Bogota!  If you have trouble getting out of Quito try buying a cheap one way flight on the budget carrier Wingo for around $150 to nearby Bogota.  Your chances of then getting out of Bogota (a city of 10 million people with hoards of flights to match) are much greater.

3. Fly on Sundays.  From the flow of my airport hotel in Quito, I can tell you the lowest travelled days are often Sundays.

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How not to start a business in Ecuador

Recently, a friend started a pizza shop in Ecuador.

3 months later he was done and out of business.

Another friend just started an Italian restaurant.

He looks to be done within the month.

For me, what´s the key to starting a business that lasts no matter where you are in Ecuador?

Accommodations.

For instance, what if your passion and what you REALLY want to do is start a surf school, or a restaurant, or a yoga retreat center?

Then offer accommodations in the form of a vacation rentals-hotel-B&B and on the side offer the retreat center/restaurant/school.

People got to sleep somewhere, then they gotta eat. Then, they got to be entertained. Might as well all be with you. If you can give them a reason to stick around longer all the better.

This will keep you in business.

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