Living Karakol #5
Kickback in Karakol
Kickback, the term given to money received from someone whom you gave some business.
Roof tops over Karakol.
Nothing moves here without kickback. I fear the town would collapse without it.
When the tourist office sends us (the hostel where I work) guests, having called first, they'd get 10% per guest for the first night that they stay with us. We call the pizza take out, we get 10%. We used one driver, we get 10%.
I used to send a lot of guests to a tour operator who was a relative of my hostels family. I got nothing I return cos it was family. I was infact happy cos the hostel guests got good service.
This year having set up and run Bike Rental Nice, I developed my own deals. One tour operator who took my business card, the one time he called me, he got 10% from my daily rental fee. Another was not eligible as we have sent a lot of customers their way.
I set up a kickback deal with the relative-owned tour operator. I was branching out. We only rented out bikes but many were stopping by to ask for trekking advice and equipment rental. She didn't seem to happy with it until I reminded her how much business I had put her way the year before. I had to call and call to get to meet her and get my fee. This is not the way things works. Kickback is paid very quickly.
Then she asked me not to send her solo travellers for tent rental cos she only had 2 or 3 person tents. Then she said she didn't rent out stoves to the tourists as they would very often break them. Did she want business or not? I cut her off.
It is far more lucrative to live off the kickback than actually go thru the process of buying tents and sleeping bags and dealing with all that shit. Just call some one and get a small fee for the sake of just one call.
The number of people with business sense here, I could count on 1 hand.
Then came along Dastorkon. Cos of my Bike Rental set up, I had 50 business cards given to me. When I was running the bike rental from a small shop I could justify getting the kickback from putting guests their way. When we shut down the bike rental cos the rental license was too high and rentals were too low to cover the costs, I ran the bike rents thru the hostel so I was at the hostel all the time and doing what I was doing last year when I ran the place (this year I was demoted to picking up the pieces), sending businesses guests.
Dastorkon was my contact. I worked hard to set that up. The guests I sent there ate well and always went in pairs or one time, 5 together, never solo. The kickback was mine. I was making more from kickback than I was getting from my cut of renting bikes. I would give them the business card with my name on the back. The girls there all know me. All the western guests would be asked, for marketing purposes, where they had heard about Dastorkon. It all went in the book. I'd send the boss a WHATSAPP message. "2 guests from swiss on their way" in a taxi-this was to ensure they did not get side tracked on their way there.