Alvaro Cerezo Docastaway

The origin of docastaway is found in the love of adventure and survival that comes from childhood Alvaro Cerezo: “I spent the summer with my parents in La Herradura, in the province of Granada. It’s a place with many deserted coves, and I used to take my boat to one of them. From that moment on, I loved being alone and feeling like I was shipwrecked,” he recalls.

Then, in his youth, Cerezo looked for a venture that would allow him to travel to a deserted island in the world to spend some time there. He did not find it and decided to start the journey alone. He ended up on an island in India, where he lived for a month. The experience was so good that he did not hesitate to repeat it. “Whenever I had time and money, I looked for a new island in different parts of the world. I was lucky because my brother was a flight attendant and thanks to him I didn’t have to pay for the tickets.”

Over the years, after already completing his business degree, he found that many people liked what he did, but did not find the courage to embark on the adventure. “I figured if there wasn’t a company that organizes trips like this I could try to meet the demand.”

Even if the beginnings in 2010 were not easy. “For the first two years I had practically no customers, they were almost all friends who served as guinea pigs to try the islands and tell me how it went,” he recalls.

Exclusive islands at low prices

The main key of Docastaway is its unique offer in the world. For a reasonable price – the average ticket is €2,500 for a one-way week – their clients (or castaways) enjoy a deserted island where they are completely alone.

Although his adventure mode allows you to live the experience of a real shipwreck, without any support from abroad or additional comfort to that which nature itself offers, they also have comfort mode, on desert islands, but equipped with cabins, shower and kitchen. The first plan is aimed at people between the ages of 25 and 40, while the second is more in demand by couples, many of whom are taking advantage of their honeymoon. By country, the most adventurous are USA, Holland, England and since the end of the crisis in 2008 also Spain.

For Cerezo, targeting such a specific niche has its pros and cons. “We can’t invest much in the islands because we know we’ll have between four and five customers a month. Despite this, we are growing little by little, maintaining our responsibility to the customer to monitor them and help them if they need anything. If we had 100 shipwrecked people on the islands, we still couldn’t offer this quality of service,” he explains. The data support his theory. With this method, it manages to bill around 150,000 euros per year and has grown by 15% annually since its launch.

However, the growth that the entrepreneur wants to secure is in the brand rather than the product. To achieve this, the key is to transform Docastaway into a consolidated brand in the world of survival and to launch parallel products, like “an adventure clothing brand or other variants of the business, like offering secluded beaches on an island, which is shared with other customers. “. All of this according to the game-by-game philosophy pursued by Diego Pablo Simeone at Atlético de Madrid. “I do it because I’m passionate about it, and I prefer it to be solid,” explains Cerezo.

Few fixed costs and a bright future

Considering the business model, Docastaway has very low fixed costs. Their catalog offers many locations around the world that are not always staffed. Therefore, all employees of the company are self-employed. “We train a team of employees in each geographic area. The important thing here is to find islands that are cheap to rent from their owners and where there are no fishermen to ensure customer privacy.”

The effort lies in the search and selection of the locations. “We’re not looking for private islands in the Bahamas, in the Caribbean… All of that is too expensive and can’t be worth it. Our niche is inherently very small, and if we set a high price, we would lower it even further,” Cerezo estimates. Therefore, all of the desert islands offered are in fairly remote locations that take between two and three days to reach. The round trip, supplemented by the experience on the island itself, takes about two weeks in total.

Another distinctive feature is the absence of intermediaries, such as travel agencies, in the approach to the customer. “We want to get in direct contact with them, get to know their personalities and avoid misunderstandings about our offer,” he explains. Because of this philosophy, Docastaway needed to focus on a communication strategy that shows how life on a desert island can be possible and exciting. Each year they compile a report of real survivors who have lived alone on desert islands for long periods – even decades.

According to the entrepreneur, the trend towards specialization in the industry that has been observed for a number of years corresponds to consumers’ thirst for adventure. “People are also getting tired of beach and ribbon tourism or visiting a city,” he explains, a preference that could be amplified after the sector’s global crisis due to COVID-19. “People will want to be a little more isolated during their vacation, so rural tourism, even on a desert island, can have an even more important weight.” Cerezo trusts his role model for now