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Big Sky's secret #1 - 2 services you must book in advance. how & why we got involved

Updated: Nov 26, 2023

all of us at Lone Peak Adventure Concierge welcome you to our new Big Sky blog! Lone Peak Adventure Travel - CC 4 min read· 1 day ago

My name is Carolyn Cole and I have lived in Big Sky for 5 years. I started Lone Peak Adventure Concierge in 2019 under the former name — Lone Peak Concierge. Because Uber does not exist in Big Sky, really, I thought I’d start a door-to-door private car service as a side job as I was in real estate at the time. I know, why did I start a car service with a name like that? Because in 2019, the state’s registration application for a new transportation company was a bit old school. Back in 2019 there was a rule that required the state of Montana to post a public notice in local newspapers to run for 2 consecutive weeks to provide others the opportunity to object to a new transportation service application. What?? Is this the wild west?? Well with that tidbit of info, I thought perhaps I would come up with an umbrella name in order to avoid a possible court hearing. Success, no objections! Lone Peak Concierge opened for business December 15, 2019.

Day one we had more transportation requests than we could handle. Well no surprise as I was the only driver and I only had one car. I was providing airport transportation to and from Big Sky at all hours of the day and night. Passengers would tell me how much they loved their vacation in Big Sky and how everyone was so nice. (it’s one of those places :) They also told me about their main frustration — they were very disappointed, even upset, to discover how quickly everything was booked. From restaurants to ski lessons to transportation, some visitors were unable to experience everything they came to Big Sky for. For us, that meant opportunity. We started receiving calls, people were pleading for rides down the mountain for their dinner reservation. I couldn’t say no. This time a new revenue stream knocked on our door. We were able to provide a solution to the problem visitors were facing. Without blinking, we added dinner rides to our menu of services.

We started the business with a 2011 Chevy Suburban (see below) It was a $14,000 investment, money which I did not have. A good friend of mine offered to loan me the money. I gratefully accepted the loan hoping I could make my payments on time. Money was tight, as with many startups, but I was able to pay off the loan, thankfully! I would not necessarily recommend taking a loan from a friend, as it can become a tricky situation. Happily my relationship with my friend remained in tact, partly because she was patient and understanding and yes, partly because I was able to pay off the loan!

Backing up a bit, remember March 2020? In Big Sky, once all the vacationers had heard about COVID-19 they scurried back home. It seemed like in a minute, no one wanted to ride in a car with someone else, including a driver. I thought that was the end of my very short lived business. Revenue dropped to $0, except for a few delivery requests. Markets and restaurants could no longer offer deliveries due to the shortage in workers so we stepped in to help. Income from deliveries did begin to contribute to our bottom line but barely.

I had to pivot. but to what? I remembered how passengers were complaining about how difficult it was to book activities and make reservations. That’s when I decided to offer a vacation planning service. Here’s the secret to a successful pivot — you must be solving a problem people are experiencing. You have to have enough money to live in Big Sky. Many of us hold 2–3 jobs because we love it here. We all do what it takes to stay here.

So we began creating unique custom Big Sky vacation itineraries. We wanted to remove the stress from the “planner” of the group and together we would design an itinerary as they imagined it would be. Of course this would include our recommended activities they did not even know existed. We would take their wish list of activities, add a dose of adventure and create a vacation itinerary that was seamless. I wanted each group to feel relaxed knowing everything was taken care of, each and every detail.

Thankfully with the help of both friends and the continued interest in Big Sky Resort as a year-round vacation destination, we have continued to grow and expand both the vacation planning business and our airport and local private car service. We are very grateful we were able to pivot. Another secret — I’m always thinking about what would be our next pivot.

Thanks for taking the time to read our first blog post (actually this is my 4th attempt but that’s another story). We deeply appreciate your interest and please reach out with questions about your potential trip to Big Sky. Your trip will be all about you, your personal experience and the memories you will hold close. Honestly it is the wild west so call or text us at 406.551.0340 as soon as you decide, “We’re going to Big Sky!”

Have a great day and I look forward to hearing from you — Carolyn

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