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Re: Pelagic Boat trip pricing? (Long)

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  • Clay Kempf
    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
    Message 1 of 10 , Feb 10, 2009
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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
      memory!

      Clay Kempf
      Monterey Bay
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