This week we chat to Tom Allwright, a former AFL player with the Geelong Cats who found inspiration in tragedy on the roof of the world and started Adventure Abroad to take travelers to some of the remotest, most beautiful corners of the globe.
TA: For a long time adventure travel was associated with having to rough it. At the footsteps of Mt Everest, a friend passed away in my arms and in the days prior we had been chatting about how to incorporate luxury into these unique adventure experiences. From that point on, I had a passion to motivate and inspire people to visit unique places with uncompromising levels of luxury.
ISB: What was the biggest challenge you faced in getting the venture off the ground, and how did you overcome it?
TA: I bootstrapped Adventure Abroad. I did not have a lot of money in my bank account and was working out of my grandma’s spare bedroom for almost a year. I had a lot of support from those close to me but my biggest investment was in education with a course called Business Blueprint by Dale Beaumont. I quickly learnt that without a lot of capital and a budget for marketing, I had to partner with like-minded brands to get our message out there. This created credibility and allowed Adventure Abroad to grow at a manageable rate.
ISB: The travel market in general is a very crowded space – how do you differentiate Adventure Abroad from your competitors?
TA: Travel is a saturated market, which is why it’s so important to understand what your niche is. We provide luxury adventure travel and we have a strong understanding of who our customers are. We know inside and out everything we offer and we are very focused to remain experts and offer unique experiences to our customers. Being boutique, we are able to build relationships with our community, which is amazing because it gives me a lot of satisfaction watching people achieve things they thought was out of their reach. I believe “trust” is going to be one of the biggest commodities to business in the future and that’s what we’ve been trying to build from day one.
ISB: Operating in such remote areas I imagine you need to work closely with local communities – please tell us a little about the importance of those relationships.
TA: Relationships are everything when you operate in remote areas. Building trust with local teams and the wider community can be the difference between a great experience or a poor one. We have integrated ourselves through community initiatives and having specific fundraising experiences. Adventure Abroad has been involved with providing wells that deliver clean and sanitised water to over 1000 people in communities in Africa, and in November we are rebuilding a school in Nepal, which was affected by the earthquake in 2015. It’s a very rewarding part of my job.
TA: I want Adventure Abroad to continue its growth to becoming one of Australia’s high-end luxury adventure travel companies while continuing to be able to offer personal and tailored experiences. We will never be a generic travel company. It’s my vision to contribute over $1,000,000.00 per year towards charities that share our values, intent and purpose with our various charity events.
ISB: Finally, what is the #1 piece of advice you’d share with those who are looking to turn what inspires them into a viable business venture?
TA: Know your purpose and be ambitious, this allowed me to do things others just laughed at. Understand why you do what you do and ask for feedback, both positive and constructive. One of the biggest things I have learnt is by changing the definition of “failure” into “discover”. Now I just discover how to not do things rather than feeling like I have failed at something, which took a bit of time for me to grasp.
Feature image courtesy of Alex Duffill