Friday, February 27, 2015

Fly Fishing Patagonia Argentina: Private Fishing Lodge vs. DIY Lodging

How to search this blog for helpful information?  Use the blog search engine and type in key words such as Float Trip, Walk-Wade, Lessons, Pesos, Fy Rods, Flies, Best Months, etc.  The search engine is located on the right side, just below the weather.  FYI, there are over 100 post about fishing Patagonia... the information you are looking for, is probably on this blog. Thanks.

The purpose of this post is to provide future Patagonia travelers a value proposition; a comparison between a private lodge stay and our DIY lodge stay.

If you are searching the web for information regarding fly-fishing lodge vacations in Patagonia, I am sure you are overwhelmed with the amount information/choices.  In fact, by now, you're probably drowning in industry babel, and may need a beverage to sooth your nerves.  You might even become frustrated with attempts to communicate directly with a lodge.  Ultimately, from my experience, the majority of people seek advice from a local fly shop, TU chapter, or they may attend a presentation at one of many regional fly-fishing shows.  The goal of these efforts is to align yourself with an expert who will make the booking process effortless (write a check and pack your bags).  During this process, you may notice the above entities stating the following:

  • We do not charge you a booking fee, you pay the same fee's as you would booking directly with the lodge.

Years ago, when I first read this, I thought to myself, "WT-Fudge... this does not make any sense."  I quickly asked myself, "if they charge the same amount as the lodge, how do they make money... why would anyone build a business based upon this model."  Well, as it turns out, I ended up working at lodge, located in Patagonia.  I quickly learned how the industry works; how fly-shops, booking agents, and group leaders (host) make money.   Here's how it works:

  • When you book a trip through a fly-shop or booking agent, the lodge pays them a 20%-25% commission, on the total value of the trip.  This is practiced in many industries. 
  • In addition to a sizable commission, your group leader gets a free trip. 
  • Math?  Many lodges can handle between five and twenty anglers per week.  Let's take a small group of 5 anglers x $5,000 USD per angler = $25,000 total.  For this group, a 25% commission is paid to the booking agent, or $6,250 USD. Let's say there are 18 weeks in the season x $6,250 per week = $112,500 USD for being a booking agent.  Now take $112,500 and multiply by 10 locations around the world.  Folks, that $1,125,000 gross. Now you know why there are so many booking agents, selling destination fishing trips to all parts of the world.  
  • Lodge profit margins are at least 40%. If you book directly with the lodge, the GP $'s goes through the roof!  This is one of many reasons why there are so many lodges in the world... think BIG business, because it is.  

Our Patagonia Partner Lodge

Fishing Lodge Value?

Before you book your next trip, you may want to think about the following:

  • If a lodge can pay a 25% commission to a booking agent, doesn't that mean their prices are already inflated?  If you follow this logic, specifically in the above example, each angler is paying $1,250 USD extra. 
  • Most lodge packages are 6 night stays.  At $5,000 USD per week, per person, that is $833.33 USD per day. This price offers you three meals per day, drinks, lodging, and fishing.
  • Many lodge fishing programs are float only, no walk-wade experience.
  • Floats are done on public water. Argentine law specifically states that all water is public. Any angler can access water via public access. Once in the river, you can walk-wade for miles. You can exit the water anywhere and walk 10 meters inland, from the high-water mark (even if the water borders private land). Technically, there is no such thing as private water.
  • You may end up staying at a lodge that can host up to twenty anglers.
  • You can not leave the lodge and explore local towns.
  • Typically, there is no discount for extended stays.
  • The lodge models itself after the USA service industry.  Thus, you are expected to pay a 20% tip. This brings your total to $6,000 USD, or $1,000 USD per day, per person. 
  • You can not stay at a lodge and request your own guides. 
  • All payments are in USA Dollars. 

Clean, Safe, Efficient, Affordable.
I carefully select the best options for you. I also believe in supporting the local economy.  

DIY Lodging Value?

Below, I will offer counter points to the above points regarding lodges.

  • You work directly with the owner (me).  You don't pay a commission to booking agent.
  • All of our programs are 100% customizable.  In other words, you can stay as short/long as you want. You can take as many day's off as you would like. We are 100% flexible and work to meet your personal needs. 
  • We offer DIY guided floats, walk-wade, and over-night camping.  To have a great Patagonia fishing experience, we encourage you to do all three.
  • We float on the same waters that the fishing lodges float, but we do not make false claims about the water being private.  Plus, our floats are different... we do several things that the lodges cannot do (sorry, can't share the info, they're our secrets).
  • In our welcome brochure we provide the best lodging options in Junin de los Andes. In Juin, you can booked directly with them.  I state this because local guides/outfitters will book your lodging for you. For example, $200 USD per night, per double occupancy.  When they do this, they typically pocket $100 USD per night (Argentine vs. Gringo Pricing).  Lastly, we also have several private apartments that we regularly put our clients in.  These apartments are not on the internet, so all bookings are done via FCFF.  All of our lodging options are within walking distance to town. All lodging options offer full kitchen, single or multiple bedrooms, bathroom, TV, WiFi. Prices range from $20-$100 per night. 
  • Staying in town allows you to explore, people watch, shop, buy food at grocery store, eat at several restaurants, and enjoy an ice cream cone.  Also, you may see a festival or parade. 
  • On your days off, we can bring your to neighboring towns or arrange a taxi for you.
  • We offer discounts for extended stays.  We also offer discounts for repeat customers.
  • We don't have a tipping policy.  If you want to leave a tip, I ask that you tip each person (management/guide) directly.
  • We have a partnership at a very good fishing lodge.  If you would like to stay at a private fishing lodge, but work with our guides, no problem. Why?  Nearly all the guides that work at a lodge do not understand how to walk-wade with clients; they don't know the walk-wade rivers all that well; they do not know know how to service DIY anglers.
  • Our business model incorporates the USA Dollar and the Pesos Blue.  This program offers our clients a tremendous value.  In fact, due to favorable exchange rates, many of our clients stay for 14-30 days. To fully understand how the Peso Blue works, please read more at this link:

Fishing Programs: Lodge vs. Guided DIY?

I encourage you to read the following:

Final Word

For some reason, we live in a world that if a private fishing lodge or a booking agent says it, it must be true. With so many options, you can quickly become entwined in the psychology of the sale. Typically, our competitors play fair, but clients have told me that our competitors have said, "Patagonia waters are private... you can not walk-wade rivers in/around Junin de los Andes; you can't camp on rivers; I would not stay at local lodging because you might be robbed."  Selling fear works, but in my opinion, it's a classless act and we will never do it.

By now, after reading my blog and researching the internet, you should come to the conclusion that we are different; we keep it real and focus on fishing, not industry marketing babel. I believe we are the only organization that openly shares fact based information. In the end, we do this because our goal is to simply present you with an honest value proposition.  If a private fishing lodge is the right choice for you, wonderful. Whatever decision you make, we hope your next Patagonia fly-fishing vacation meets all your needs and expectations.

Thanks for reading and hope to see you in Patagonia.