RE: [CALBIRDS] Re: Pelagic Boat trip pricing? (Long)
- Ouch. Excellent point, Geoff. That's why I had to replace my inherited binocs with a $50 pair of Bushnell binocs (10x50) from Wal-Mart. I would absolutely love to have a nicer pair of binocs but it's just going to have to wait until my sixteen year old daughter graduates from high school and college and is reasonably able to support herself. :-)
Any more these days, I have to combine birding with business trips or vacations, instead of taking a trip for birding purposes. The last such trip was two years ago with a two-day Salton Sea trip sponsored by Sea & Sage Audubon (led by Vic Leipzig) and I had to save for several months for that and carpool with two others. If you want to reckon the return of that trip in terms of adding lifers to the list, it was an enormous success for me and worth every penny. On the other hand, when I took my first few days off in almost two years and headed to Buellton and Solvang for a badly-needed break in late November, the birding return was almost nil, other than being very relieved to see a flock of Yellow-Billed Magpies looking for grapes at a winery between Buellton and Solvang (not too far from Buttonwood and Zaca Mesa wineries, before the Fess Parker winery). Incidentally, that flock numbered some ten YBMs squabbling noisily and swooping across the road several times.
-- "Geoffrey Rogers" <oreortyx@...> wrote:
Doug, Sue, and all,
I see the reasoning here as explained by Todd but still wonder what we have
wrought by following the ABA's advice to tell the world that we're birders
and we're spending money. This surely has increased optics prices and
spawned a high-end marketing effort in bird tour companies, festivals, bird
CD-loaded Ipods and everything else advertised in Birding magazine. I guess
for the "gainfully employed but underpaid" like Sue, me, and some there's
no turning back.
Geoffrey L. Rogers
San Diego, CA
> [Original Message]------------------------------------
> From: aguillard2469 <doug@...>
> To: <CALBIRDS@yahoogroups.com>
> Date: 2/9/2009 3:10:46 PM
> Subject: [CALBIRDS] Re: Pelagic Boat trip pricing? (Long)
> Thank you for taking the time to explain. Now it all makes sense to
> me. I appreciate that you took the time to write it all down.
> Doug Aguillard
> San Diego, CA
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- Excellent job of explaining the complexities of pricing by Todd.
One other point that factors into the comparative costs of a whale
watching trip vs. a birding trip is the profit margin of the operator.
Most whale watching trips (and fishing trips) are scheduled and booked
by the same company operating the boats. These operators usually began
as fisherman/fishing boats, and many have branched out to learn basic
whale identification or have hired a token marine mammal "expert".
Birding companies, on the other hand, require greater skill and more
experienced leaders. Consequently, most are separate entities rather
than boating operators, and hire the boats as a charter. The result
is that the charter company charges the birding tour operator a rate
comparable to the retail rate of a fishing trip or a whale watching
trip. If the birding tour operator sold the trip out at fishing trip
prices, they would do nothing more than cover expenses. So the bird
tour operator has to increase their price further to make any profit.
Throw in the additional factors Todd mentions (more fuel consumed;
leader space, and costs for the non-sold spaces), and you can see how
quickly the additional costs will add up.
Last year I was a leader on about 20 pelagic trips, and the number of
passengers on those trips varied wildly...from completely sold out
trips with a couple of people standing next to the boat hoping for
last minute cancellations, to a few trips in which the passengers
barely outnumbered the leaders. Companies (e.g., Shearwater Journeys)
that offer a lot of trips out of a variety of ports have to make up
the cost of these under-booked trips (aka money losing trips), so that
the trips "go" even when the trip operates at a loss. This allows out-
of-area (or, out of country) passengers to book pelagic trips (and
associated travel) with a reasonable assurance that trip will be a go.
While all of these reasons are understandable, they don't provide the
price relief that was probably hoped for in some of the comments made.
Then again, its one of the reasons that pelagic birding is such a
treat, and adds to the excitement and adventure of the outing, in much
the same manner that finding a rare bird does. Throw in a few marine
mammals, and that rare seabird truly turns the outing into a lifetime