Us folks here at PathWrangler have gone silent for a while. We owe you all an explanation. In the massively underrated movie, “My Name is Nobody,” the protagonist, Nobody (brilliantly played by Terrance Hill), tells a Fable:
There was this little baby bird that fell from it’s tree in the cold of snow. It starts peeping, “Pa peep! Pa peep!” as it was damn near freezing.
Along comes this cow. She looks down at the little bird and feels sorry for it. She raises her tail and… “splah!”
…She drops a steaming hot cow pie right on top of it.
The little bird starts again… “Pa peep! Pa peep!” Because it’s hungry.
Along comes a mean ole Coyote… It reachs down easy into the cow pie and picks the little bird up. He raises the little bird higher and brushes the dirt off him real nice.
And then… “Gulp!” Swallows the little bird down all in one bite!
My grandfather says there is a moral to the story, but you have to figure it out for yourself…
At the movie’s end, the aging gunfighter, legend Jack Beauregard (played by Henry Fonda) figures out the moral to the story:
Folks that throw dirt on you aren’t always trying to hurt you, and folks that pull you out of a jam aren’t always trying to help you. But the main point is: when you’re up to your nose in shit, keep your mouth shut.
We’ve been toiling away behind the scenes up to our noses in fecal matter. Before we tell you what’s up, we want to lay out what we see has been plaguing the travel industry for some time now.
PathWrangler opened for business in 2010. But, it has been well over a decade that the members of our team and myself have been absolutely obsessed with how those with a passion for travel and/or the outdoor industry can make a living doing what they love. There’s always been a saying in this industry, “You aren’t in this business for the money.” This axiom is pure gallows humor saying that your passion is likely to make you broke.
In a market that attracts people to more important things beyond money, it often struggles to find anyway to pay the bills. It has been easy for folks to say in the beginning that “money doesn’t matter,” but when you have to look at that employee in the eyes and tell them that you have to lay them off, or take a pay cut, you’ll realize that it does matter.
In the past, one way we advocated for people to make a good living was to start their own tour company and operate it on the Lean Principles that software companies are built and run. The principles could add more bottom line to your business. However, while we feel this was a big step in helping travel entrepreneurs, even at it’s optimum, the ability to maintain a thriving business is still limited by it’s potential in the top line aka REVENUE.
As we built our product to support these efforts for tour operators, we saw a disturbing trend around us. Technology companies, in order to scale this market, needed to commodify and homogenize trips and experiences in order to sell them to a mass market. Expedia for travel joined the mountain of scheduling and online booking tools to service this industry. Volume trip selling hasn’t occurred because demand for purchasing guided trips is relatively fixed, with a non-scalable cost for operating them once they are sold. The traditional venture capital way of looking at these businesses forced them into creating solutions that are contrary to the consumer demands of personalized and unique experiences. The industry is stuck.
We think there has been a lack of imagination. We couldn’t even get a meeting with any investors by working against this packaging idea. But, while our intentions and mission were solid, we didn’t really have a solution to this problem either. We just knew that we weren’t going to contribute to franchising out the diversity in our industry.
So we slogged through, going broke from our own pockets (not investors from Sand Hill Road), getting out of the office and talking to all kinds of professionals in the travel and outdoor industry. We ran surveys and collected mountains of data. We asked very personal questions about what the margins looked like for people have to make a living and determined that there has to be a better way.
Well, we’ve found that better way.
We’ll be detailing this better way here on this blog and will be releasing a entirely reimagined product from the existing PathWrangler. We won’t be renaming or rebranding it. Our brand is not on the product that we deliver. It is the excellence in creating solutions for people who want to be more human, to experience life more intimately, and to support those who want to make a living in this industry and to do so sustainably (in the truest sense of the word). I’m sure every marketing person just threw up a little reading that run-on sentence, but it is who are.
Thanks for sticking with us if you’ve been with us this far. You saved us from extinction and working hand in hand with you, you’re the reason why we’re going to change everything. For you folks new to us, well, buckle in and get ready for a heck of a ride.