How to run a successful travel business in multiple countries


Based in London and Buenos Aires, Plan South America crafts one-of-a-kind adventures to some of the most remote and spectacular corners of South America and Antarctica. Since inception in 2006, Director Harry Hastings has learnt some important lessons operating in multiple countries across cultures and time zones.

Live local

I lived in Buenos Aires for 9 years and saw an opportunity to build a travel company with a difference, staffed by a team who speak the language and know the region inside and out: which tables to bag in those little-know neighbourhood haunts, the rooms with the best views and comfiest beds and, most importantly, a rolodex of local characters who really bring a place to life. We pride ourselves on depth of knowledge and unparalleled access, whether closing the Iguazu National Park for a special client to have the Falls to themselves for an hour, or securing the keys to offbeat haciendas and private art collections.

Behind the scenes

Quality control is crucial. Be sure to choose reliable and trustworthy partners. Once secured, nurture relationships with suppliers – the more they understand you and your clients, the better experience they will deliver. Regular contact is important to ensure standards are not just maintained but constantly moving forwards. Check and recheck every last detail.

Communication 

Clear communication is one of the most critical ingredients to a successful business – articulate instructions clearly and the rest should follow. We schedule regular conference calls to discuss targets and ideas, celebrate successes and study areas for improvement.

Office culture

In both offices, we encourage flexible working as far as possible. The more our team can travel, the better informed they are to shape the clients’ experiences.  But we’re very strict on time keeping, attention to detail and consistency: every email, itinerary, phone call has to reflect the quality of the product we are selling. The levels of bureaucracy in Argentina can be infuriating, but we have adapted our systems and processes to local rhythms, which means we are generally one step ahead of any problems.

Timezone

Operating across time zones can be tricky, but the benefits generally outweigh the negatives: with a 3-4 hour difference (depending on the season) between Buenos Aires and London, the combined Plan South America team is available for longer office hours. This increases productivity significantly and results in quicker turnaround during the planning stages and round-the-clock concierge for all of our clients.

Tech

It is difficult to imagine the travel industry before the Internet.  Like almost any modern business, we’re always looking for new apps to enrich our clients’ experiences and the team communicates constantly on Skype, email, Whatsapp. Our blog and social media are central to the brand and all of our clients receive Spotify playlists before they travel. Itinerary design and our back-office management system rely on bespoke software. Tech is key to our industry and facilitates better communication between our offices.


About the author

Harry Hastings is the Director of Plan South America. With offices in London and Buenos Aires, and a team who is fluent in English and Spanish, Plan South America offers bespoke travel experiences to high-end clientele.