We had the good fortune of connecting with Tricia Morris and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tricia, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I traveled to Costa Rica in the mid-90s. My boss at the time had a villa there. I started handling the vacation rental requests. More villas were built in the area and I booked them as well. Once my boss decided to move to Costa Rica full time I found myself wanting to keep going so I started from scratch with my first website. I contacted owners and ask to list there property. I visited often to keep updated by touring and/or staying at each property. I worked closely with a wholesaler that booked any airfare, transfers and hotel add-ons. I developed relationships with owners and property managers.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am a small independent travel agent specializing in Costa Rica….only Costa Rica. When you book with me, you don’t get an agent who represents properties they’ve never been to, you get a professional who has seen every property, traveled in length through the country and who works one on one to find you the best villa/hotel for your stay. When VRBO became a business and later on there was Homeaway and AirBnB, a lot of owners listed their properties directly and it took away from the travel agent. It was easy for the customer to pull up a country, search for a property and book it on their own. The cost for a small business like mine to advertise properties became too pricey. My listing would become redundant because the same property would be listed more than once. Google advertising became costly as well because the large companies had the budget to remain in the top 5 listings and cut off the little man, like me. It was quite frustrating and I had to step away because my business began to dwindle. I still remained in contact with owners and property managers but did very little bookings. Over the past year, I’ve revamped by website, began putting more time and effort into google and social media and am hoping that people will start going back to a travel agent and realize they don’t have to do all the leg work. As an agent, I can take do the job for them and all they have to do is pack for their trip.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would take them to the Arenal volcano for part of the trip. Arenal has the best zipline in the country. Almost all the hotels are facing the volcano. There’s something magical about waking up and looking out your window a the volcano, listing to the wild parrots and sometimes hearing the howler monkeys in the distance. After a few days there, I would travel to the beach. I happen to love the NW pacific however there is beauty in the southern pacific as well. I’d go to Tamarindo and stay at one of the cute, boutique hotels. I’d book a beachfront massage, maybe learn to surf and definitely go deep sea fishing (some of the best in the world).
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My father loved to travel. He only got to go to Costa Rica once. He was the hardest worker I knew. Very honest and trustworthy. Without his support and encouragement, I would’ve been afraid to branch out on my own.