Rogue Travelers: When a personal project becomes the leading company on the Camino de Santiago
I begin by thanking the more than 5,000 travellers who have already done the Camino de Santiago with Viajeros Canallas. I will never deny that, when we started this project back in March 2017, I felt in my gut that something big was going to happen.
I remember with nostalgia the first group of travellers who decided to do the Camino de Santiago with us as a group. That was when I realised all the work that had to go into organising everything: hostels, breakfasts, dinners, doubts, questions, rescues and, of course, the odd incident.
That is why during the following years, little by little, what was a personal project ended up becoming a company that, in these six years and with an average growth of more than 40% per year, has brought us to this moment.
At present, Viajeros Canallas forecasts speak of 2,000 places for the 2022 season. This means 12,000 overnight stays, 12,000 dinners, 12,000 breakfasts... And a huge amount of management, customer service and many questions, doubts and needs of our travellers.
At Viajeros Canallas, at all times we have tried to continue with the initial foundations of this project created by me without letting this colossal growth of the company influence the service we offer. We continue as we have done since the first day: giving personalised attention, answering all the WhatsApp messages we receive with questions and concerns both in audio and text and avoiding the digitalisation of the company as much as possible, which would mean a much colder and more distant attention.
It is true that before I had much more fun, after all it may be my personality. I like being with the groups, those talks on the Camino, those laughs, those moments, those beers, those rescues when you see someone who can't walk... And above all that gratitude and those beautiful looks that people give you when we do something as beautiful as the Camino de Santiago.
But it is obvious that, with the magnitude that the Viajeros Canallas project has acquired, my position now is to direct, coordinate and manage all this beautiful madness. Undoubtedly, it is a much less enjoyable task but totally essential for our travellers to enjoy the Camino de Santiago experience to the fullest.
Now, that position is occupied by a team of monitors that we select each season with the utmost enthusiasm, hoping that they will be infected by the soul of Viajeros Canallas and that they will take care of each of our groups with the same affection.
Even so, I refuse to always be in an office and I try to get away to see the group, even if it's the first day in Sarria. To see those nerves and illusions, to try to solve their questions and doubts, to see that excitement that generates starting the first day of the challenge, to share a little while... And, of course, to dedicate as much time as possible to my monitors so that they learn and feel the Camino as I still do.
P.S. for entrepreneurs: To all those people who dream of entrepreneurship and setting up their own project or business, I dedicate some advice to help them face the challenges that lie ahead.
From my point of view it will always be very interesting to read books on economics, to master as much as possible about marketing with special emphasis on the online world and to create a project in which you know the needs of people both in the short and medium term in order to offer a quality product.
But for me, without a doubt, the key to entrepreneurship would be to ask yourself the following questions: What do you love to do? What would you be happy working with? What would make others happy with that work? Because many projects may be behind a great idea, they may be supported by a good economic plan, but without heart and soul, it will never be your project.