Growing up on a farm in Oregon gave K’Lynn Kennedy an appreciation for hard work and allowed her opportunities for physical activities like fence mending. Then, while working as a reservationist in Sedona, Ariz. with Grand Canyon Tour Company, she discovered the outdoors and a career niche that suits her well.
She launched a complementary phone-based concierge service on the side, helping people find that “something extra” to do while visiting the Grand Canyon.
“It was well received by the people on the other end of the phone,” she said. “I build rapport really easily with people. I can identify their needs and wants.”
The 26-year-old with a public relations and communications degree from the University of Idaho returned to the Gem State in 2009 and on May 2 of that year launched a new business she named Idaho Excursions. She got funding from four local investors she met through networking – in all, a total of nearly $15,000.
“I knew recreation was very big in Idaho,” she said. During her first year in operation, she made 375 reservations for summer-season recreational activities. She’s building her list of rec company clients, as well as expanding her winter event options and spreading the word about her business nationwide and beyond through social media marketing.
She makes money from the companies she represents, getting a commission and booking fee. Some of the companies that have signed up for her concierge-style services include Thunder Mountain Line in Horseshoe Bend, Bear Valley River Co. in Banks, Sawtooth Lodge in Garden Valley, 4D Longhorn Guest Ranch in Ola, and others – more than 100 company clients in all.
Kennedy’s business approach is to visit each recreational site and participate in all activities so she knows firsthand what the experience is like, as well as travel tidbits such as best restaurants and hotels.
“I did everything, so I could sell (the experience) to my guests. I’ve already done the research for them,” she said.
She knows, for instance, what places host Dutch oven suppers, wine nights, and other offerings. “I want people to have the ultimate Idaho getaway,” she said.
About half of her vacationers so far have been from out-of-state, according to the businesswoman, who said the concierge concept is more widely known in other places but is still relatively new to Idaho.
Kennedy also works for a company called Zip Line Tours out of Horseshoe Bend. The company is open to having her operate Idaho Excursions on the side and, in fact, recognizes the benefit. “It’s a perfect fit,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy has also established working relationships with other travel-related entities in the state, such as the Boise Convention & Visitors Bureau, with which she has an advertising co-op agreement; and she is vice president of the Southwest Idaho Travel Association.
When she’s not working, or networking, she keeps busy with all the outdoor opportunities Idaho offers. “I just skydived last week with Skydive Idaho,” she said.
She also went nighttime “catfishing” on the Snake River near Homedale with friends, reeling in a 30-inch catch or two. These and other activities give her tips on low-cost vacation ideas to pass on.
She is especially eager to help spouses, kids and siblings take trips together. “It’s important for people to get away with their families. I want them to have good memories,” she said.