The right priorities for a business are not a matter of choice.
They are defined by forces akin to natural law. Having the right
priorities does not guarantee success. But getting them wrong
virtually guarantees failure.
The right priorities are in ranked order:
1. Selecting, training and retaining the right employees.
2. Attracting and exceeding the expectations of the right guests.
3. Running a safe operation.
4. Promoting conservation and benefiting local communities.
All too often ecotourism entrepreneurs are hoodwinked either
by self-styled experts into thinking that their top priority
should be to promote conservation and benefit local people so
that the can earn the coveted Five Golden Piojos Certification.
The operators are sold this bill of goods with the assurance
that earning the coveted Five Golden Piojos Certification will
lead to increased business from conservation minded guests --
guests who almost invariably do not materialize.
If the only result were that these operations typically go
bankrupt or at best hover on the edge of insolvency it wouldn't
be so bad. But I personally know of four cases where operations
considered to be models of eco-tourism have been responsible
for multiple guest deaths as a result of gross negligence.
It is not uncommon for the founders of these failed operations
to finally figure out a viable business model. The money for
them is not in operating ecotourism operations but in consulting
to ecotourism operators. And now they actually have expertise
-- in how to win the coveted Five Golden Piojos Certification.
So finally they have their priorities right and lined up with
their goals, because their goal is not that their clients' businesses
succeed and prosper but rather that their clients win the coveted
Five Golden Piojos Certification. Then they can truthfully claim
that their clients are highly successful at earning the coveted
Five Golden Piojos Certification. And the cycle goes on.
When it comes to buying advice, caveat emptor.