I believe in being fully transparent on my website. I think it’s the only way to really run a website. And, so, in the name of full transparency, I want to talk about a big change that’s happened on this one.
For the last 10 years, I’ve been taking G Adventures tours. The first trip I ever took overseas in 2004 was with them, and that trip to Costa Rica gave me the travel bug that put me on the path to where I am today. I’ll always be thankful for that.
Four years ago, after having lunch with their CEO, Bruce Poon Tip, I had the pleasure of forming a business relationship with G Adventures and was able to bring you free tours and a kick-ass 10% discount code. All I could think was, “How cool! The company that put me on the road is now one of my partners!” It’s been a successful partnership and that discount code generated a lot of first-time bookings for them!
Everyone — you, me, them — seemed to win.
But today I am announcing that I’ve left G Adventures for good and that my relationship with them will forever be finished.
Let me tell you why.
First, let me say I still love G Adventures tours. The tours themselves are amazing, and I’ve always loved my guides and trips. If you have an upcoming trip with them, get excited; you’re going to have a wonderful time. Moreover, I still like the company’s commitment to the environment and sustainable tourism as well. My feelings on the quality of their product have not changed.
The reason I’ve left G has nothing to do with the product itself — it’s still a great product. Don’t second-guess yourself or get worried because of this blog post!
Over the years, I stayed with G Adventures (even though they weren’t always the cheapest tour company) because I liked their product and the people behind the company, and because they used to be really excited about partnering with this blog. Their 10% global discount offered incredible savings for people reading this blog.
But over the last year, I could tell the winds were shifting. They had a lot of staff changes in their marketing department (the department I was involved with) and most of my favorite people — people that saw the value in bloggers, in this website, and in you — left or were pushed out of the company. Now, bloggers were being treated as though we are unimportant and replaceable. The second I got off my first call with their new marketing director, I knew we weren’t on the same page, and I could tell he wasn’t that interested in working together anymore.
Then a few months ago, when our contract was up for renewal, they decided to pull the 10% discount code. What they offered wasn’t nearly as useful. They wanted to replace the global discount with a monthly, changing regional discount (i.e., this month it’s sailing tours in Europe, the next it’s Machu Picchu treks, then Australia tours, etc.). That code was only good that month — so if you decided the following month to take a trek to Machu Picchu, you were out of luck. It was so restrictive that I knew it would hardly get used and most of you would wonder, “Why did you replace something good with something bad?”
I think they knew that and they knew I was going to balk at that.
So without the code, I decided to leave. For years, I’d had many companies offer similar — and sometimes better — discounts. But I believe in loyalty, so I stayed loyal to G Adventures. The company was good to this community, and I wanted to be good to them. But now, without them offering anything to readers of this website and with a current management team that I don’t feel values this community, it was time to part ways. (Side note: I heard through the grapevine that part of the reason they were so happy to see me go was because I began running my own tours! I’m hoping they aren’t really so petty.)
At the end of the day, my ultimate loyalty is to you, the reader. I look at my job through one lens — to help you save money on travel. That’s why all deals are rooted in getting you a discount code. If I partner with someone, it has to be because you save money. I can’t recommend a more expensive operator out of some weird sense of loyalty, especially when I don’t believe they feel the same way.
I’m here to save you money, and I’ll partner with brands that love and appreciate this community and offer you savings.
That’s no longer G Adventures. I tried many times to contact the CEO, someone I thought was my friend, only to be ignored and brushed aside.
So I’ve left G Adventures and won’t be going back.
So what now?
While I think the G Adventures product is good, they aren’t the only company with a strong commitment to the environment that offers small group tours. They popularized the movement and innovated the industry, but they aren’t the only game in town.
I’m currently working on two deals:
First, I’m finalizing a deal with Intrepid Travel, which is owned by PEAK Adventure Travel (they have about a dozen travel brands in their company). Intrepid is G’s main competitor, yet the two companies run essentially the same tours. The itineraries are often identical to G Adventures (we always ran into their groups on my G Adventures tours), and they also have a strong commitment to the environment (they are the first tour company to ban elephant riding on their tours).
We are still working out the details, but by the end of the summer, you’ll see a 10% discount code, free tours, and even more perks available to you than were possible with G Adventures. By the end of the year, I’m hoping to offer a 10% discount for all PEAK brands, which will increase the tour options for you.
I love the people at Intrepid, their tours are incredibly affordable, they understand social media and blogging, and they are very eager to work together (the team I liked at G is now with Intrepid).
Note: At this point in time, I have not taken an Intrepid tour. I have a few scheduled, but I have had many friends and fellow writers take their tours and love them. Plus, the people that now work there I hold in very high regard. If they believe in the product, it’s going to be good. I trust their judgement on many things. But as I said, before we fully finalize the deal, I’ll be taking their tours just to make sure they meet my standards.
Second, I’m also finalizing a deal with STA Travel that will give you big discounts on flights, hostels, land-based tours such as the Kiwi Experience and Busabout, and free student and youth discount cards. I love STA, I’ve been using them for years, and am excited to finalize this partnership. They are a great brand and are going to open up a lot of savings opportunities for readers.
Again, G Adventures’ product is great and if you are on a tour with them, you’ll have a great time. And I will never say, “Don’t take their tours! They suck!” They run great tours. I will never deny that.
But I’d rather work with a company that values the community we’ve built here and wants to offer us a way to travel cheaper, better, and longer.
And plenty of companies want to do that — just not G.