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Peru: Finding Quellomayo
By Andrew Bruton
May 2, 2012
One of the biggest challenges any business faces is marketing. "How do I get people to know I exist?" For a coffee shop on Oxford Street in London, there's passing trade; there are thousands of people going to and from work and home and at least some business is assured if the product is of sufficient quality.
However, our situation is a little different. Quellomayo is nestled down by the river in a tiny forgotten town destroyed by river floods over 13 years ago. Our local police force don't even know where we are (we asked them to visit once, and they had no clue we existed).
The Peruvian national postal service even had trouble finding us when we were setting up our business and for tax purposes and they had to verify we existed. They initially told the tax people they couldn't find us.
So when locals don't know you exist, how on earth do you tell people from around the world that they should pop in for a coffee on their way to Machu Picchu? You can imagine we have felt a little lost at times.
Well, our first priority was always to have a website and now we have one. The trick of course is to get people to find you and that takes time, investment and sometimes a bit of luck and a helping hand from people who recommend you and value your service. But if nobody knows of our town, Quellomayo, then nobody is going to type it into Google. So, the internet is only one way to get seen.
The real reason for this post is much more local. We as a family are very interested in giving good information to tourists who stay with us. We are honest with people and we tell them if we think something is good or if it is bad or downright dangerous.
Most of our guests find us by accident or by recommendation from other travellers who have previously stayed with us. We love our job because we meet new people all the time and we can share our intimate local knowledge with people to hopefully make their journey more pleasant.
But how much can we do right now to help? Sometimes we feel a little helpless because local infrastructure is slow to adapt to a greater influx of travellers. One of the most wonderful ways to arrive at our home is via a 3-4 hour walk on old Inca trails through the mountains from Santa Rosa, outside Santa Maria. Shockingly, this trail is not signed and there isn't even an indication from the main road as to its starting point.
We have our theories as to why this might be and they involve the council not prioritizing it and the agencies and their guides not wanting independent tourists to be able to travel without paying for their services. It is a very short-sighted way to develop tourism, and we are constantly frustrated by the way in which efforts to improve local signs are thwarted by a few groups.
We have put signs up before indicating the turn to Quellomayo, but they were destroyed and thrown into the ditch by locals. It is a strange situation but sometimes change is not welcome and it takes time for people to see the bigger picture.
Currently we have 5 large, color signs on our land a little way above the road near the turning to Quellomayo, and we have directly spoken with our neighbors and local people, explaining that they are not to be tampered with. So far, so good.
But, even more important than our own advertising is the need for clear signs indicating the route for the Inca Trail from Santa Rosa. We are in discussion with the local council and are pushing for signs to be made because the trail is not obvious and people should have the right to walk it without a guide. To increase tourism in our area, and to encourage responsible tourists, we need signs explaining not only the route but also the responsibilities of those on the trail to maintain it tidy for others.
Currently, locals and tourists alike drop their litter on the trail. I am not in favor of putting trash cans on the trail because they will not be emptied, but signs indicating that littler should be taken with you are a good start. Perhaps we could also have some information posts giving local flora and fauna descriptions, these are the ideas we're sharing with our local government but alas so far nothing has been happening.
We will continue to push for greater clarity on this trail. We are a small business with about 6 beds, we are not going to dominate local tourism, we don't want to, we're small, private and intend to stay that way. But, we do think everyone has the right to decide for themselves if they want to walk or take public transport, or if they want to travel independently or with an agency.
Our desire is to have maps available on our website for travellers who want to go it alone. We haven't yet had the time to draw up these maps, but we hope to have something basic later this year.
So, not only is there the struggle to make people aware we exist, we also have to make sure that when people arrive in our region they can safely and easily find their way so that their journey is better and they recommend our region to others. Hopefully, someday soon we'll manage to achieve this.
Andrew Bruton, originally from Britain, is a co-owner and manager of the Yellow River organic farm and hostel in Quellomayo, Cusco. The website is www.quellomayo.com.
Total coments: 2
Commented By: Hipolito1
On: May 2, 2012. 4:10 pm
Having lived in Peru for 8 years, I can assure you that signs of any sort outside of metropolitan areas simply aren't popular. But word of mouth is. Your best bet is to just tell everyone and let the word spread. I lived in Tarapoto for two years and only found places with friends, never by signs. In Lima, there are no maps or pamphlets for the bus lines, and no one is asking for them, except of course, the tourists who venture into the system. But after living in Lima, you soon find out, all you have to do is ask someone. That is the fashion here. Once you ask one person, anyone hearing the directions or conversation might join in. It may take longer, but if you notice, no one is in a hurry. Drivers? They're not in a hurry. They're pretending to be race car drivers. They're playing. Welcome to South America.
Commented By: jimmyjames
On: May 3, 2012. 1:26 am
GREAT IDEAS!!!!! Seems that you did things the typical Peruvian way and "put the horse before the wagon". Deal with these things, print up flyers with maps which costs so little in Lima and build a clientel. SUERTE!!!
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