Auckland based boutique travel company World Journeys are celebrating their 10th anniversary, reflecting on the past ten years which have seen significant changes in the travel industry landscape.
World Journeys was officially launched on 10 April 2007, with the clear aim of moving away from the prevailing ‘corporate’ approach, and getting back to the niche boutique-style of travel the founders loved, selling travel ‘hands’- on based on their own personal recommendations. At the time this was seen as a ‘back to the future’ move against the industry trend towards large amalgamated travel companies, which are usually overseas owned.
Starting off with just the four founders and three staff, they vowed at the time that the team was to get no bigger than 14 people. Kate says “We definitely didn’t want to become a big corporate. Searching for the perfect premises was a mission, as we wanted it to reflect our style. The Ponsonby villa we found was ideal. In winter, we had a roaring fire going in the office, and in summer there were plums and apricots to pick in the back yard – the feeling really was that we’d found our home.
A few weeks later we took our first delivery of brochures from the printer and unloaded them from the truck ourselves. Mailouts to travel agents around the country involved everyone stuffing brochures into envelopes on long tables in the garden”.
World Journeys’ three initial offerings were tailor-made travel brochures on ‘China & Indochina’, ‘India, Nepal & the Maldives’ and ‘Central & South America’. Later that year they added ‘Africa’, ‘Canada & Alaska’ and a range of small group hosted journeys, which have gone from strength-to-strength over the years. The portfolio has since extended to Europe, Antarctica and the Arctic, Japan, North Africa and the Middle East. All journeys are meticulously researched and more importantly, tried and tested by the team.
After 7 years in Ponsonby it became clear the company needed more space. Brett says “The business had grown, and, wanting to maintain the personal touch, we needed to employ more support staff to enable our specialist consultants to concentrate on doing what they do best. The move into The Old St Patrick’s School House in Freeman’s Bay was a mission, including a crane lifting custom made concrete desks in over the balcony!”
“The thing I’m most proud of”, says Brett, “is that throughout this ten-year journey we have not wavered from our core values of knowledge, experience, and the personal touch. Our clientele is still the over 40’s who want unique destinations and experiences all organised for them. These travellers are very busy people, and really appreciate the personal recommendations we can make to ensure the best use of their time and budget.
Chris comments “The team here are always travelling to ‘new’ destinations to source the best accommodation, evaluate the experience and test itineraries. We need to be in touch with trends and new offerings, and have up-to-date knowledge of the product we are offering.
There has been so much change in the travel industry over the past ten years, with the growth in online travel options in particular, so the ability to adjust to demands and meet the market with unique product and personal service has been essential. Clients are absolutely researching online, but then coming to us to ‘sort the wheat from the chaff’, as there is literally often too much choice, and you really need to get advice from someone who has been there themselves. To not only survive in business, but to thrive as we have done over the past ten years, you simply must offer value. Our specialist knowledge of some of the world’s most exciting destinations, based on personal experience, is just that.
The future is indeed bright for World Journeys. The company has planned ongoing investment in improved technology and intend to stay at the cutting edge of the industry with enhancements in areas such as social media and product development. “Although the world is constantly ‘shrinking’, we still manage to find some great destinations and product to enhance our portfolio, necessary to satisfy the demand generated by our extraordinary level of repeat business from a very sound client base. We are all in the travel business because we love it, and that’s never going to change”.