Amber: Hi, welcome to The BusinessMakers Show. I’m Amber Ambrose and this is my guest Pablo Valqui of Gourment Tours Worldwide. Welcome to the show.
Pablo: Thank you very much for having me.
Amber: Absolutely. First of all tell us about Gourmet Tours Worldwide.
Pablo: Gourmet Tours Worldwide is a company I conceived with the idea of taking people to places that they may be about to go on their own but will be much better off doing it with – especially if they’re interested in food and beverage – much better off doing so with someone who actually understands more of this worldwide food trends, beverage trends. And since I have worked so ling in the food and beverage industry in Houston I feel that I have that knowledge to provide to the visitors.
Amber: Okay, well tell me why you have that knowledge. Where did it come from?
Pablo: I was a fine food buyer for Spec’s Liquors in Houston for 7 years and before that I worked for a Middle Eastern store in Houston as well as a deli manager. I have lived in the U.S. only for 12 years and even though I’m a political scientist I have found that my real calling is in food and drinking and also in educating people about foods from all over the world.
Amber: So on that note what are some of the things that you want to offer or that you are planning on offering?
Pablo: I have been offering already for 8 year tours to Peru and came to realize that even if I were successful in getting people to go to Peru with me I never had repeat customers because nobody would go on the same tour again.
Amber: Right, I get it.
Pablo: I wouldn’t do it. I have to go and take people but I don’t have to go on the same tour twice, so I started expanding the offering to other countries. Since I am German-Peruvian and I have lived in Germany for a very long time and when you are in Germany everything is around the corner, I have traveled.
Amber: Sure. Actually, I didn’t know that because I’ve never been to Germany but now I do.
Pablo: You have Spain next door, France next door.
Amber: Oh you’re talking about actual countries, okay.
Pablo: Yes. So everything’s around the corner so I have been able while I lived there to work in other countries and visit other countries extensively. I always needed to have a local eye on the country because I was working with students at that time and so I wanted to show then the country the way a local should. And so that became a big tendency of mine to always look at the country the way, to travel the country that way. My biggest compliment was one of my assistants in Hungary told the professors that were travelling with me in Hungary that they should ask me because I knew Hungary better than her.
I had only been to Hungary like four or five times at that time but it was one of those testaments that made it clear to me that there was a calling in doing something like this with these tours. For instance, I had this experience in Slovenia where we were received by a family that were like the parents of a friend of a friend and they received us in such a way that the cake for us was apples from their own orchard and so these kinds of experiences you cannot get from a tourist book.
Amber: You’re going into people’s homes.
Pablo: You cannot get this from a tour book.
Amber: Unless you’re Anthony Bourdain and you have a producer and a fixer.
Pablo: Exactly. You don’t need to be Anthony Bourdain to have that kind of experience.
Amber: There you go, there’s your tagline.
Pablo: You have me. You have me for that. So it is really something that I think people want to travel differently; they don’t want to travel with a book in hand and see at what corner they have to make the next right, they want to experience. And experiencing is actually a great way to bring people together better because if you’re going out on a tour with 100 people on a tour bus, or 50 people in a tour bus, and they’re shoving you to the right and to the left you will not really experience the country. You may have been there and your pictures will be testament to that but you have nothing built into your mind. My company’s motto is see, taste, experience and build experiences for a lifetime. Because what you are going to see during these trips is not stuff that you would see normally if you go on your own.
Amber: So you go on every single trip?
Pablo: Yes. Until it’s too many trips I think I want to go on every trip, yes. I want to make sure that the quality of the trip is given.
Amber: So you started off in Peru and it was sort of like a side hustle to take people to Peru and then you had sort of an epiphany, right?
Pablo: Yes. When I realized that the people that I was taking to Peru were never going to travel with me again I decided okay, I have to find a way to get people.
Amber: To diversify your portfolio.
Pablo: Because people that already know how good I am at what I’m doing would probably go with me somewhere else as well. So I started thinking about the closest country for that would have been Germany since I lived there for so long, but I said okay even Germany is not necessarily that attractive alone. You will find 5 people that want to go to Germany, 3 people that want to go to Peru, but which are the countries that people want to go to more? People love to go to France, to Italy, so I want to include these countries – Spain. I want to start including countries that are of course also more attractive because if I manage to attract people to one of those countries I may be able to attract them to other countries as well and also expand the people that talk about these kind of tours.
Amber: That’s right, so you were thinking bigger.
Pablo: Yes. I started thinking bigger. I guess after 12 years of living in Texas I finally started thinking like a Texan and you have to think bigger if you want to be successful in business. I guess until now I was thinking too much as a German or a Peruvian as I was treading carefully, planning every step. Finally I guess the melting pot has worked because now it’s finally melting. I’m using selling techniques that I would describe more as German which for example comes with efficiency and punctuality and doing what you say.
And then at the same time I’m also learning and applying techniques that I learned from living in Texas for this long, relatively speaking, where I say okay you need to start thinking a little bit bigger than what you may be yourself what you are because I’m a very small company, just one person so far. But I’ve seen in Texas so many people that have started with one person and now they are 50 to100 people companies. They all at some point had to think bigger.
Amber: That’s great. So Pablo, what is an example tour like maybe to Germany?
Pablo: For Germany my topic – the main topic is it will be a little bit more beer-oriented because that’s what people mostly identify with Germany. However most people don’t know is that Germany is the country with the second most Michelin style restaurants in the world after France.
Amber: I certainly did not know that.
Pablo: So I actually plan to – I know a few restaurants already and since I work with German wine I have the contacts with German wineries that I would like to visit, but that will be something that is that wine is on the edge of it while beer is going to be the main player. In Germany what I think is the interesting part is to do a tour that crosses the different regions of Germany where beers are all different. So you have a Cologne Kolsch beer, in Dusseldorf you have Altbier, in the north you have pilsner, in the south you have wheat beer. And so to go on a tour where you actually learn about the different kind of beers and so this kind of trip is going to be – European trips I normally would think you have to do at least 10 days. Why for example Peru is a 7 day trip because it’s closer; you have to adjust the travel time.
Amber: And I know Mexico City is one you’re offering too.
Pablo: Mexico City is another offering that is also in the works that is going to be just a city tour, so it’s going to be just a long weekend basically – leaving on a Thursday being back on a Sunday. And I try to be back always on a Sunday so people can decide do I take off Monday or do I not take off Monday.
Amber: And obviously being shorter it’s cheaper and what are your packages like so people can have an idea?
Pablo: For example something like Mexico would be around below $1,000, Peru is going to be $3,500 and both of the European trips are going to be somewhere around the $4,000 range. This includes everything except the flight to the country and it makes at the end a very good value for that kind of money to get to know a country in that depth.
Amber: Pablo thank you so much for joining us today, I appreciate it and good luck.
Pablo: Thanks a lot. Yes, hopefully.
Amber: Once again I’m Amber Ambrose, this is The BusinessMakers Show and bon voyage everybody.
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