At the age of 20, Trish Sare left for an epic adventure around the world for five years. Originally from Toronto, her first stop was Vancouver to work at Expo ’86, from there she went on to travel through the Pacific Islands, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, where she decided to stay on a small island, living with a family for two years.
The trip was to have a profound effect on her, and how she wanted to live the rest of her life. She explains, “I met so many fascinating people who were living interesting lives. I wanted to live a similar lifestyle by building a career that was my passion.”
Learning from the Ground Up
At the end of the trip she returned home to Canada to study tourism, however, before graduating she completed a practicum placement for a tour operator in Costa Rica as a tour guide. She led trips all over South and Central America learning everything she could from the ground up and seeking out biking, hiking, rafting, caving, trips in her spare time for her own adventures. Two years later, she returned to Canada to work in the other side of the business, for a tour operator, to understand what happened behind the scenes.
Making the decision to go solo was an easy decision for Trish. “I’ve always had the entrepreneurial spirit. I’m highly independent and want to be the master of my own ship,” she confesses. Speaking to a friend and fellow tour operator about starting her own company, he advised Trish to reach out to a mutual contact to see if she could start her company under his license. This benefited her many ways, they were already established in the industry, had a team of IT consultants, accountants and management consultants, which meant she had many listening ears for any questions or concerns she had about the travel industry.
One Trip. One Date. Great Success.
In 1994 Trish started BikeHike Adventures, with the intention to bring like-minded active people with an opportunity to experience cultures and meet locals in destinations around the world.
She started with one coast-to-coast trip to Costa Rica and one departure date. Through a lot of hard work it sold out. “There was no internet back then, so it was all micro-marketing, doing slide presentations. I marketed through fitness clubs, since I was a fitness instructor as well,” describes Trish. Elated at the success, the following year she added four more dates, and the following year she added four more destinations.
Only four years after starting the business she was able to make a full-time living out of BikeHike Adventures, and gave up the multiple jobs she had been working to make ends meet.
Today she operates over 50 multi-sport adventure trips a year, to 30 destinations across the world. Every trip itinerary is unique and combines activities from mountain biking, hiking and whitewater rafting to horse-riding, sea kayaking and rock climbing. “We want our travellers to feel inspired by their accomplishments of exploring these countries on their own sweat and steam,” explains Trish.
And it’s not just her clients that love BikeHike, so do the media. They have been named as one of the Top Adventure Travel Companies on Earth from National Geographic Magazine, and many of their trips have been awarded the Best Trips of Year by National Geographic, Frommers, Men’s Journal and many other publications. “The day we learned that we were named by National Geographic Adventure Magazine was definitely the biggest success of our history,” Trish explains. “Our credibility went up overnight.”
Starting with only a $1,000 investment and growing the business organically, without public funding, has meant a steep learning curve. But Trish puts her success down to a strong network of very dedicated clients, who have become lifelong friends. “People are my biggest strengths,” observes Trish. “I love meeting people, talking to people and selling our trips to clients and the media.”
Building that network of people is also what she recommends to entrepreneurs starting out. “Have a mentor and a network of people who inspire, educate and empower you,” she enthuses. “There is so much to learn from others who are in similar positions, so utilize their knowledge and learn from their mistakes.”
As her business grew Trish quickly learned about the value of delegation and out-sourcing. “As an entrepreneur of a small business, I’ve tackled every position in the company to save money, however I learned early on to capitalize on what I do really well, and hire experts to do what they do best,” she admits. “It was mentally challenging to have those additional expenses, but overall, I had more time to work on the growth of BikeHike Adventures.”
Celebrating 20 Years
This year is a big year for BikeHike Adventures. They are celebrating their 20 year anniversary. Quite an achievement in an industry so influenced by economic and political climates. But their dedication to their clients, who have been with them from the beginning and their highly personalized trips, makes a great formula for success.
Looking to the Future
Not wanting to sit on her laurels, Trish is now looking to take BikeHike to the next level. She wants to strengthen and develop the structural foundation of the business, taking it from being owner driven, to employee driven and increasing profits.