Owner Douglas Trent lived in Brazil for 11 years, and started the company while there. Nancy, his wife and business partner, was there for the last 5 of that 11. While living in Brazil for a decade, he guided around 200 days a year in various parts of Brazil, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile and Paraguay. Adding that to the time our other guides have spent guiding tours, and we easily have operated more nature and birding tours in these areas than any of our competitors. I think it is safe to say we know the areas better.
For the majority of our 22 years of operating nature and birding tours, we have acted as the ground (inbound) operator for American and European nature and birding tour companies. You may know that tour companies that offer tours overseas are called outbound operators. The companies they contract for local expertise, to make hotel and transport reservations and either advice or create the tour itineraries are called inbound or ground operators.
With all of these clients, for the first 12 years of business we never advertised directly to individual travelers. Over the last decade, however, we have enjoyed some excellent coverage in the Washington Post, New York Times, Boston Globe, Business Week, Condu Nast Traveler and several newspapers around the world. We have also been recommended in many Brazil travel guide books, including the Lonely Planet, South American Handbook, Frommers and others, as well as the Birding Brazil Site Guide. While for years over 95% of our clients came through the companies you are no doubt more familiar with, over the last couple of years we have found that we are now getting about 70% of our business from people who have contacted us directly. The logical step for us was to start advertising and offering our services to the public.
With all of our staff except the owners still living in South America, we are also able to offer you tours on your schedule, and design them to meet your specific needs. Most outbound operators schedule tours a year or more in advance, design them to fit what they think most people will want to do and then try to fill them by advertising and publishing a catalog.
Our goal is not necessarily to show you the most birds, mammals or anything else. Our goal is to make you very happy, and we will ask a lot of questions to make sure we get it right. All of our tours are guided by English-speaking naturalists. They carry the equipment that will make a difference in how much you see: a spotting telescope, tape recorder and microphone to bring rare animals into view, and a powerful spotlight for night viewing. They will also have the bird and mammal guides appropriate to the regions where your tour goes. Our guides all use binoculars, and we can't stress enough the importance of each tour member having his/her own binoculars. In addition, we provide checklists of the birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians of each area we tour, with common English and Latin names. These help tour participants not just keep track, but also learn the animals they see.
While some of our clients don't have a die-hard interest in natural history, everyone enjoys seeing a monkey's face close up through a quality telescope. Everyone appreciates it when a hidden toucan hops up into view after their guide plays a tape of its raspy voice. And sitting down at the end of day to note what you've seen on a list always amazes people. Rarely does anyone remember all the animals they seen in any given day on one of our tours. When we bring the list up to date, you have a chance to look at the pictures in the guide books, and at the end of a tour can have an impressive ability to identify many of the birds and animals you have seen. The process also helps you remember just how much you have seen and learned on your tour.
We are also dedicated to environmental protection. M09464 was founded in 1981 to use tourism to raise money for biodiversity conservation, as well as environmental education. This has led Doug and Nancy to start a tax-exempt non-profit organization. We would be glad to tell you about our commitment to conservation, and welcome comparisons with other ecotourism companies.