With the year’s end approaching, there’s no better time to reflect on the accomplishments of 2014 and take a look at what’s next. To that end, we asked general manager, Christoph Ege, to share his thoughts on Viaventure’s 2014 highlights and what’s new for the new year. Here’s what he had to say.
What was one of the biggest company changes in 2014?
I’d say it happened internally. Viaventure’s three co-founders stepped back from everyday operations and took more of a strategic role. By doing this, our managers now have more space to run their departments, implement changes, and work together in new ways; this has led to some really innovative ideas. We’ve also done leadership trainings and worked with a business consultant on a “bottom up strategy,” wherein we actively reach out to our staff to find out what’s going on within the company to pinpoint where we can improve. This is important, as the better we function internally, the better we can cater to our clients’ demands and give our travelers the best experience possible.
What achievement are you most proud of?
I’m really excited about the number of local NGOs we’ve supported over the year through the Viaventure Foundation. We’ve contributed to programs that focus on education, environmental conservation, and much more.
What was one of your favorite moments from the past year?
This isn’t a “moment” per se, but we run annual client familiarization (FAM) trips so that travel agents from around the world can get to know our destinations. These agents usually visit Antigua, Guatemala—where Viaventure’s main office is based—and attend a dinner hosted by us. It’s during these dinners that I often hear how “blown away” agents are by the diversity, rich culture, and beauty of our destinations and by our field staff, who are regularly described as caring, knowledgeable, and genuinely kind. It’s great to get such positive feedback.
What new products does Viaventure have in the pipeline?
We’re working on a new cooking tour that will allow clients to learn about local Guatemalan food in a really delicious, hands-on way. I’m excited about our Pacaya Volcano climb in Guatemala, too. That part–climbing up an active volcano isn’t new–but we’ve added on a stop-off afterwards at a great spot with thermal pools. It’s the perfect way to relax after your volcano adventure. As always, we’ll continue focusing on “experiential” tours, too. That’s a bit of a buzz word these days, but it’s what we’ve always been about: ensuring clients get to know the locals, landscapes, and customs of our destinations in very real, very authentic way.
What are you most excited about for 2015?
Our expansion into Costa Rica! As a country, it’s a perfect complement to our other destinations with its incredible landscapes, fantastic wildlife, and fun, family-friendly adventure offerings. Opening an office there was a natural next step for Viaventure, as many of our clients who are familiar with our caliber of service in Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras have asked that we offer the same in Costa Rica. We were happy to oblige and will now be offering innovative, exciting products throughout the country!