Professionals and aspiring business people will flock to Kodiak next week for Discover Company Owner Gives Insight into the Rural Tourism Industry in KodiakKodiak’s Rural Tourism Summit. The free event will feature guest speakers and serve as a venue for locals to pose questions and share ideas.
Word of mouth still holds sway. That’s one lesson in the world of rural tourism from adventure guide Jeff Peterson.
Peterson, who operates fishing and hunting charter company Kodiak Combos out of Old Harbor, says he used to work as a village public safety officer.
“The mayor would say, Jeff, I’ve got this telephone repairman here in town until 4:30. Can you take him out in the bay for an hour or so before his plane gets here? So, I’d be out in my VPSO uniform with a CB radio and, right in front of the village, we’d catch a couple of halibut, and he’d go away. And then I’d get a call a couple of months later and someone would say, hey, you took my friend out, what do you charge?”
He says he got many of his clients through word of mouth – and still does – and in the 90s, he established his company.
“It was Peterson’s Adventures, but then I learned when you’re marketing at shows and you have your name on a directory, Peterson’s Adventures, the question was ‘Where are you from? Are you from Canada? Where are you out of?’ So I changed the name to Kodiak Combos with Peterson’s Adventures, so right off the bat you knew where we were from.”
Peterson says most of his clients are experienced hunters and fishermen who save up for the trip. Residents, he says, come to hunt Sitka black tailed deer and mountain goat and most out-of-staters come to fish. He explains that difference is mainly because of the law.
“The state game laws are pretty conservative. You have to be a resident to hunt mountain goat, and if you’re a non-resident, you have to hire a guide, so some of the big game laws.”
Operating a charter company can be pricey. Peterson says most of the revenue goes back into the business.
“You’re not gonna become instantly wealthy like we appear to be. We have nice boats and nice rods and nice gear, and we have high-end clients coming in to fish and hunt, but if you look deeper, I mean, we’re working 24 / 7, but just like if anyone talks to me, I tell ‘em you gotta be passionate about what you do or you’re gonna get discouraged and quit.”
He says in a rural village, the cost of fuel and maintenance can be pretty high.
“A simple $30 part if you need it right away, you’re gonna to have to GoldStreak it from Seattle to Kodiak and then for like $90 some dollars or $100 and some dollars, and then you’re gonna have to charter a plane from Kodiak to Old Harbor for $300 bucks if you need that part right away.”
Peterson says it’s useful to have backup parts on hand. That may be the case especially for the busy season ahead.
Peterson says while the May through August is full of fishermen, late October to December is a popular time of year for hunting. He says a lot of the hunters in fall are after deer, goats, and ducks.