Andrew Tyree: Founder. Coast to Coasta

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My Native Admission Statement: I’m Andrew Tyree. I’m a 38 year old native Angelino (LA born, though I left for 15 years) who is trilingual, married to the love of my life and I run a company where I get paid to take people on cultural group travel experiences to Spain, Colombia, Peru, Mexico and Cuba! We live in Highland Park with our dog Reggie and I love/hate fixing things in our little house we bought 2 years ago. 

How did you get into the industry?

I never graduated college. There, I said it! While I was in college, I worked in restaurants, where I learned my love of hospitality. I took a “semester” off of college (ended up being 5 years) and lived in Spain and Italy, where I learned my love of language and travel. When I moved back to SF after Europe, I worked in a Spanish restaurant and put my restaurant/wine contacts together with my love of travel and hosting people and started Coast to Costa, my company. We specialize in leading groups on cultural food and beverage travel experiences. I’ve been in “hospitality” since I was 18 and have been traveling since 22. I’ve owned Coast to Costa for 7 years. Lots of years! 

Any emerging industry trends?

While we are into travel for the cultural exchange, I am totally noticing people wanting to travel to places just to take pics for social media. It’s annoying but our company also relies heavily on social media. I just hope that people traveling just for the “gram” also have some chats with locals and learn something good while they’re at it! Like, it’s great that people are traveling more than ever but the motivation to start for a pic or likes is lame. Again, I just hope it’s a catalyst for some eye opening experiences after they get that shot! Also, get those likes! 

Any industry opportunities or challenges?

I do notice that there is a cultural shift and many more people are getting away from the norm and traveling. New generations are spending their money on experience much more than cars/houses etc. I love and totally appreciate that. I encourage that so much. I just hope that people remember to stay respectful in the places that they visit and realize what a privilege it is to be able to afford/be able to travel the world. We visit a lot of places that the people are not allowed to travel as freely and that’s a really hard pill to swallow for me. 

I do have to say that we have noticed a huge down turn in the last two years and I have to say it’s largely to do with the current administration. Yes, I’m talking about Trump. I believe he instills fear in people of the unknown or the “other”. He’s made terrible statements about Mexico and Cuba, two places and people who are very dear to me. Our mission is to bring people together through travel but I’m afraid that his tactics are actually causing fear and people are leaving and traveling less, especially in Latin America. It’s a shame because there are such amazing things to be seen down there! 

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?  

As I was saying earlier, I literally started the company to put together my hospitality contacts and knowledge with my love of travel. I started by going on trips with friends and organizing it/renting places to stay and creating awesome travel experiences. I realized I was very good at it and that I could show people the places that I loved. Since then, we have made the focus more on the local guides, winemakers, chefs, artists, etc who really lead the trips. They bring you into their homes and home cities and it feels like you’re traveling with cool local friends who are showing you around. As far as the future goes, I would love to have all of our local guides busy constantly with our travelers. If we could have all of them full employed and touring our Coast to Costa clients around, their financial and personal lives would be forever changed. That would be the goal! 

What's next for the Business in the near future?  

Our next new destination we’re doing is Colombia. One of our partners is Colombian and we’re having him create an incredible itinerary of his home turf. We eat at his uncle’s restaurant, see his mom’s old house, which is an amazing restaurant/bar...it’s going to be awesome! First trip is January 4-11 2020. 

Your most difficult moment at the Business?

As I mentioned, my wife and I bought our first house in November of 2017 and it was right around the time that Trump made his first round of speeches about travel restrictions to Cuba. Literally spent every dollar I had ever saved and THEN SOME and our business came to a grinding halt right after his announcements. It was the scariest damn time of my whole life. I learned that persistence and hard work pay off and that we are doing something good in the world and people will appreciate and support that. Also, if you just stick with something and continuously prove to be trustworthy, people will eventually trust you and come to foreign countries with you! 

Ideal experience for a customer/client?

We have been very lucky with our groups. Typically, when you have people sign up to go to Cuba with a van full of strangers, it brings a certain type of open/adventurous travelers. When we have a group with a great attitude who are there to enjoy, take it all in and take the place for what it is and not expect it to run like the US, it’s incredible. To have 12 strangers come together and become tight travel friends is an experience like no other. I am very fortunate that I can put that into the world for a living. We create a culture of travelers within a culture that we are exploring. It’s a beautiful thing to be a part of.   

How do you motivate others?

Firstly, we pay all of our employees a very good living wage. After working in restaurants for so long, I base guides/activity directors pay off of what I would make as a waiter on an average night. That’s a living wage in SF or LA, so when you directly pay that to someone in Havana, Cuba or Cusco, Peru, for example, that means they make way higher wages than what most companies would pay. We work directly with small business/individuals, so big companies don’t get their hands on it and keep most of it. They get paid in hand in cash. It helps their families and their futures directly and we treat our team like family and they treat us very well. It’s a win win. 

Career advice to those in your industry?   

To work in travel and for yourself is all consuming. Don’t do it for the money. It takes a very long time for it to make money. The first group trip that I did was amazing and so very challenging and I remember thinking “I need at least a week break from anything travel relater”. I got home exhausted, slept, woke up in the middle of the night from jet lag messing with my schedule and started researching where I was going next. If you do THAT, get into travel planning. If you want in for the money, don’t bother. 

What do I do best?

I am a very good people person. I treat people well and am pretty informed and can entertain the shit out of my travelers. I think the love for people and bringing them together is what I’m best at. 

What makes me the best version of myself?

The love of people/travel and persistence. This company didn’t make any money for three years and I worked in restaurants at night after working full days on the business. Many people told me it wouldn’t work. I believed and still believe in what we do and kept at it and it has worked for 5 years now. I have officially been out of waiting tables for 2 years and 2 months. My passion, dedication and persistence have made me the best version of myself. 

What are my aspirations?

I want to bring people together through travel. I know it sounds cheesy but I’m totally serious. People interacting makes the world better. That’s my aspiration. 

My Biggest Success?

Creating a company with no outside investment/no one else's rules. 

My Favorite People/Role Models?

My mom is awesome. She quit her safe job as an accountant five years short of retirement to ALSO get into travel. We both started around the same time. Things get tough or good, I call my mom. She’s rad. 

My Favorite Places/Destinations?

A town called San Francisco (San Pancho), Mexico. Solo traveled and spent a lot of time there. It gave me a lot of answers. 

My Favorite Products/Objects?

I’m a big fan of books. I am NOT a fan of smartphones. In fact, I believe they’re making us LESS smart. I hate them! 

My Daily Thoughts:

Goal of the Day: To get through my daily to-do lists. 

Thought of the Day: Today is going to be a great day! 

Tip of the Day: If you want something bad enough, don’t talk about it, do it. Everyday. Any second of your spare time, until you’re an expert. 

A Day in My Life:

What do you love most about Your City?

I love LA for the cultural intersection of food. We just ate Din Tai Fung (a Taiwanese noodle restaurant) last night and I had fresh tortilla street tacos down my street today. The mix of cultures and what they bring with them is what makes LA so rad. Anyone who hasn’t been, come and visit and we’ll leave Santa Monica and the boring west side in the dust and see the REAL LA. 

Favorite breakfast meal & restaurant?

Chilaquiles at Huaraches Azteca in Highland Park, Los Angeles. Chicken fried chicken, potatoes and eggs at Millie’s in Silverlake. 

What are you doing at:

6:00 AM – Not waking up

10:00 AM - Emails and meetings

12:00 PM - Favorite Lunch spot/meal? Street tacos. 

7:00 PM -  Cooking with my wife. I’m “sous chef”, so I basically prep and clean up while she makes awesome food. 

11:00 PM - Going to bed! Early nights these days. 

What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)?

Coffee in the AM. We recently bought a new fridge. I struggled to instal the water line for WEEKS, so nowadays I fill up a huge cup with fresh ice water all day and am proud as shit of myself! 

Most used App/Favorite Instagram Account?

Most used app is Instagram. Favorite is @coasttocosta. Haha. That’s our company and I check in like it’s going out of style! It’s too much. Owning a small business will do that to you. 

What should everyone try at least once?

Solo travel. It’s uncomfortable at first but is soooo good for you! 

Where do you enjoy getting lost?

I have a freaky good sense of direction. I’m hardly ever lost. I’m bad at a lot of things but getting lost isn’t one of them! As I’m writing this I’m like, it’s a figure of speech, Andrew, lighten up. Answer 2, a good used book store. The Last Bookstore in LA. I completely lose time and space and can be there for hoooours! 

My Pic of the Day: I swore I'd never be a dog owner that bought their dog clothes and I bought him an outfit in Mexico IMMEDIATELY after we got him. This is Reggie.

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What Else to Know?

People can contact me at coasttocosta.com. Email is andrew@coasttocosta.com. Instagram @coasttocosta Facebook.com/coasttocosta. Phone number (415) 601-6631. If people want to travel well, they should come and talk to me