Interview By: Andy Ogg, Editor and Sales Director – Travel Professional NEWS
Interviewing: Jessica Wolff, Head of Marketing – Upscape
First off, thank you very much for the time today in discussing these exciting and innovate accommodation options for Travelers looking for a unique experience!
Thank you for your interest in Outpost, it’s been in development for over the past year and are really happy to be announcing it now.
Before we discuss Outpost, can you give our Travel Professional NEWS readers some information about Upscape and its history?
Absolutely. Upscape is an experiential and adventure travel company based in Santiago, Chile with 15 years of know-how in creating unique itineraries in the Southern Cone, including Uruguay, Argentina and Chile. Upscape itineraries have been recognized by the likes of National Geographic Traveler, VOGUE and Food + Wine. In 2017 Upscape was named to the Travel + Leisure A-List for the 4th year in a row and Upscape Founder Brian Pearson was recognized as a Condé Nast Traveler Top Travel Specialist for the third year in a row.
Founder Brian Pearson moved his family to Santiago in 2000 from the states and was taken back by how much opportunity Santiago (and Chile) offered for outdoor enthusiasts. He started offering private cycling, ski, trekking and vineyard trips in the Central Region. His efforts over the years have supported the region’s growth as a destination, whereas it was formerly more often a stopover on the way to Patagonia. Through organic growth and partnerships with top trade partners around the world, Upscape has grown to sell Chile, Uruguay and Argentina and, of course, now is introducing Outpost.
In a recent press release, Outpost announced some new Off-the-Grid accommodations in Chile, can you share some more information about Outpost and its beginnings?
The idea behind Outpost has been developing for many years. Brian and our team are outdoor enthusiasts—some are cyclists, others are trekkers, rowers, runners, you name it, we all love the outdoors, specifically the Andes and the incredible landscapes here in Chile. We’re always taking our travelers out into nature and always coming up with ways to ensure they’re off-the-grid (that is, of course, when they want to be!) for experiences that really allow them to disconnect from their daily life, whatever that may be, and focus on where they are and who/what is around them. We’ve noticed over the past few years that it’s getting harder and harder to do that. Wi-Fi or some type of connection is almost everywhere, and the pressures of real-time social media mean that our travelers are more often being distracted. So, we started exploring our local partnerships for private land that would be a great fit for Outpost. What makes a great fit? Land that is off-the-grid (loss of cell signal is a great indicator!), in a lesser-known landscape that would benefit from sustainable tourism, and a place where our partnerships really shine—for example, in Outpost Patagonia our fly-fishing guides are experts in the land and help travelers fish the legendary Jeinimeni River or in Outpost Maule our partners, the Bouchon family, host travelers at Casa Bouchon, either for the night or for a wine tasting.
Can you share what inspired this new movement of diversified accommodations?
What really inspired us to make this vision a reality was the continued requests from our travelers to disconnect. Of course, disconnecting can mean different things for different travelers and luckily the southern cone has a variety of top-notch hotel experiences, but for those who want pristine nature and a true outdoor experience, there really wasn’t much available. After 15 years offering tailored trips throughout Chile, we knew we were in a great spot to be the ones to step up and create this offering.
At what other locations are these Outpost accommodations being offered?
We have launched with Outpost Patagonia (along the Jeinimeni River in Aysén, Patagonia) and Outpost Maule (along the Maule River). We are currently finishing development of Outpost Atacama (to be announced later this year) and Outpost Elqui (for the region’s 2019 total solar eclipse) and Outpost Lakes (for the region’s 2020 total solar eclipse).
What can a guest expect when staying at one of these Outpost camps?
We are telling travelers to first expect an adventure. Outposts are located off-the-grid and, in the case of Outpost Patagonia for example, in places where weather is often unpredictable. This could mean delayed ferry crossings or a change in arrival routes, but our team is well-equipped with satellite phones and very experienced in navigating the regions safely. We believe these “unknowns” make the travel experience all-the-more memorable. Upon arrival at an Outpost, travelers are met with a warm beverage, camp-cooked meal and the hospitality of our team who help get everyone settled in their tents and acquainted with the campsite. Each tent is equipped with a bed complete with hotel bedding (arrangements can be made for 2 twins, 1 queen or 1 queen/1 twin) in a light and sound-proof “cocoon”, lighting, living space and lounge furniture, bathroom towels and clothing storage. Shared showers and bathrooms are separate from the tents and have hot water (though the bathroom tents are not heated). There is also a kitchen dome tent, as well as a living room where we all come together to share meals and stories from the day. Meals are cooked fresh three times a day, with wine and beer available. Our team has put a lot of focus on the development of our dining offerings and are even able to accommodate vegetarian and vegan needs as well.
Outposts are booked privately or by joining a small-group trip. These trips have a focus on a certain area of interest, for example hiking or photography. For a private Outpost we encourage travelers to spend their time as they wish and without too much of an agenda. We share plenty of ideas for activities with travelers both before and during their travels. This could include, for example, horseback riding with a local gaucho or hiking through some of our favorite spots in Patagonia’s pampa like Valle Lunar.
Can you share some insight into the demographics that are frequently visiting the Outpost camps?
We anticipate that Outpost with attract travelers who share our outlook on travel…that is, that we find the most enriching experiences when we’re just outside of our comfort zone and when we have the ability to meet locals who aren’t necessarily part of established tourism. We think it’s also important to this demographic that they travel without a trace. This type of traveler will either be a solo traveler who doesn’t necessarily want to travel alone or a young family or group of friends looking for time away together.
With 2019 around the corner, do you see this style of Off-the-Grid travel being a growing trend?
We believe Outpost is positioned well to be a part of the larger, growing movement of transformational travel and by the initial press response we’ve seen, we think we’re not the only ones who feel that way.
Does Outpost offer any training or educational opportunities for Travel Professionals to learn more about this exciting travel option?
At the moment we are focused on developing Outpost Atacama and having a successful first season in Patagonia and Maule. We will have a FAM trip for our existing trade partners upon private invitation and in future seasons look to create more FAM opportunities as needed. That said, we have available a recorded webinar full of Q&A available for trade professionals interested in learning more.
What advice do you offer to a Travel Professional looking to grow their business with Off-the-Grid Travel?
Be realistic about expectations. Glamping with running water and electricity is one thing, but truly getting off-the-grid camping is a different experience. We offer many comforts that our travelers wouldn’t be able to have on their own, but in areas where tourism isn’t established things don’t always go smoothly! To us, that’s part of the adventure, but the traveler has to agree.
Before we conclude, do you have anything you’d like to share with our Travel Professional NEWS readers?
Educational webinars, pricing and sales tools are available to trade professionals. To learn more please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you so much for the time today, as well as the exciting information you’ve shared. We look forward to sharing more about your travel solutions in an upcoming issue of Travel Professional NEWS!
We really appreciate your interest and the opportunity to share more about Outpost!