As tempting as their promises were, and there were many, they never included any minimum booking guarantees nor guarantees they could or would deliver the numbers they promised yet, to sign on with them they wanted us to slash our prices significantly below what we would consider wholesale!
If we signed with them, we would be paying exorbitant commissions for them to market our tours to what is ostensibly an already captive resort audience (and in high season, not much more sporting than shooting ducks in a pond).
After considering the pros and cons, our answer each time was a polite no thanks, we prefer to work independently and set about making a few more business enhancements. We boosted our on-line presence with a new website. Learned how to use more savvy internet marketing tools, tarted up our storefront, added a few more exciting adventure tours and hunkered in for the long term. Financially we weren’t flush but we were doing okay. Yes, some months were definitely a struggle but no more than any other tourism related business. We all know slow season is inevitable every year and we prepare for it during high season. We're proud independent survivors! And then… the announcement.
Carnival Cruise Lines were building a port in Puerto Plata! Giant floating cities would soon be arriving carrying thousands of people to the area every week including SLOW SEASON!
How could we possibly afford to ignore this new development?
Talk about mixed emotions! This could be our ticket to Xanadu. Easy Street! We could stop worrying about slow season, we could travel more, stress less, pay those University tuitions without blinking an eye or,
But don't worry! We still run our 27 Waterfalls tour several times a week and thankfully, our gut feeling to stay independent is paying off. We’re doing fine filling buses up just outside Amber Cove with cruise ship guests but, we’re doing it on our own terms. You see what we didn’t know when we declined membership to the "exclusive shore excursion club" was that seasoned cruisers already know they get a more reasonably priced, more authentic experience with an independent tour company ... and they find us!