Success Stories
Ogopogo Tours - Summerland, BC

Ogopogo Tours - Summerland, BC

"After sampling around 120+ jobs and creating 18 businesses on his own, self-admitted ‘serial entrepreneur’ Darren Sweet has found the perfect fit with ‘Ogopogo Tours.’ Known for their sustainable model, the tour company was first born from Darren’s desire to reduce emissions when idling a traditional diesel tour bus.  

Having experience from driving for another wine tour company, Darren, with the help of his partner Adonica, started the business as a ‘man with a van’ in July of 2015. Nowadays, Ogopogo Tours operates six vehicles, including a wheelchair friendly transportation option and offers 40 different products from multi-day wine tours out of Vancouver to a motorcycle tour in their two-person sidecar (their most popular private tour).

With sustainability as a core value, Ogopogo Tours became the first certified carbon neutral wine tour company in Canada.  The business continues to receive accolades including a Gold Award for ‘Environmental Management and Corporate Social Responsibility’ from Sustainable Tourism, ‘Canadian Sustainable Tour Operator of the Year’ in 2017 and 2018 by Luxury Travel Guide, and after winning an award in 2018 for ‘Sustainable Resource Industry Excellence’ from the Penticton & Wine Country Chamber of Commerce’s Business Excellence Awards, Ogopogo Tours is  nominated for both ‘Tourism Excellence’ and ‘Growth & Development’ and Darren and Adonica are nominated for ‘Business Leader of the Year’ in the upcoming 2019 Business Excellence Awards.

With the support of EDP, Darren has been able to begin working ‘on his business' instead of ‘in his business’.  Ogopogo Tours worked with a local consultant to review all aspects of the brand and collaboratively create a branding document and marketing plan. Already familiar with the company, the working relationship was an effective match resulting in successful recruitment of a talented team of six, excited to work together for another season.

Darren continued learning through participation in CF business planning workshops featuring the Business Model Canvas. After the Sweets decided to make a further investment in their business, Darren enrolled in a program called ‘7-Figure Tour Business’ featuring industry specific knowledge sharing from a group of tour operators around the world. The program reminded Darren to keep what he calls a ‘beginner’s mind’ - always open to learning.

Darren keeps his beginner’s mind sharp and is committed to learning more ways to create a welcoming and inclusive environment for all. He has recently completed ‘LGBTQ+ Inclusion Training from Canada's LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce and the entire Ogopogo Tours team hold training from Transport Canada to best handle disabilities including vision or language barriers.

Darren identified that his own disabilities also come with talents. His extreme focus on large problems and the ability to visualize vast amounts of code and tasks has been useful while he works independently to create a custom booking software for his business. 

The booking software is expected to be ready for market in the coming months positioning the brand closer to connecting with the growing millennial market while continuing to attract a variety of customers whose values align with the sustainable model of this business and love of the Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys.

Contact

Community Futures British Columbia
C230-7871 Stave Lake Street
Mission, BC  V2V 0C5
  1-604-289-4222
 

About Community Futures

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