First of all, how are you and your Family doing in these COVID-19 Times?
Diana Zuluaga: Fortunately, my loved ones, and I are all alright.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded 5Bogota
Diana Zuluaga: I am 5Bogota co-founder, and we are a tourism agency located in Colombia. And we connect travelers with local hosts through unique experiences such as cooking lessons, visits to the farmer markets, dancing lessons, etc.
How does 5Bogota innovate?
Diana Zuluaga: We are the local pal of travelers, and that is what makes us different from others in the industry. We don’t offer simply tours but unique experiences that tend to make trips unforgettable.
How the Coronavirus Pandemic affects your Business, and how are you coping?
Diana Zuluaga: It has 100%. Unfortunately, we passed from selling about 30-50 trips per week to nothing as our target is foreign travelers. We had to reinvent ourselves and try to offer things locally.
We have launched online cooking lessons for locals, and we send them the ingredients to create an experience more than a regular lesson.
But of course, sales are not even similar as it used to be.
Did you have to make Difficult Choices, and what are the Lessons Learned?
Diana Zuluaga: For sure, we were forced to cancel all the trips for this year and reorganize our business core. We were in the best moment of our business after 7 years of nonstop working.
In Colombia, the lockdown has been pretty strict, so we have been at home for 5 months now, so it has been impossible to reinvent our business and adapt it to the new reality.
What we have learned is that as an entrepreneur, you never get to the final point. I mean, when you think you can control everything and that your business is where you want to be, you realize that external factors can ruin everything.
The pandemic also made us make decisions quickly. We have designed the new product (online lessons) in 2 weeks. One of the lessons learned is that you need to move fast and adapt your business without thinking so much.
How do you deal with Stress and Anxiety? How do you project yourself and 5Bogota in the future?
Diana Zuluaga: That has been pretty tough. More than the anxiety, I would say that frustration has been the hardest. I feel so sad about the idea of closing my business as international trips take so long. It is hard to know if we will be able to endure for so long. At least I don’t have any regret we have been fighting till the end. But not sure yet about the next steps.
Who are your Competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the Game?
Diana Zuluaga: Other travel agencies, almost all of them have huge fixed costs, and as a result of the pandemic, many of them are now bankrupt or running into debts. We have survived because we didn’t have big premises and employees. So as soon as the international trips normalize, we can start all over again.
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