Q&A: Tired of dating duds? Women ditching men for mountains

Instead of men, women are now focusing on adventure and are flocking to experience a new way of seeing the world, free from pick-up artists and unsafe travel companies. This week Inside Small Business speaks to Tanya Kellen, founder of The Luxury Adventure Traveller, a bespoke tour company that offers small-group tours to bucket-list destinations.

ISB: What is the ethos behind Luxury Adventure Traveller?

TK: A few years ago I really fancied going on an adventure, with a few comforts along the way – I had hiked to Everest Base Camp in 2009 and after a full day of hiking at high altitude I would have really appreciated the opportunity to pamper myself a little. Despite over a decade of working in the traveI industry and, therefore, knowing where to look, I couldn’t find anything to fit the bill.

I did more research and realised that I was not alone – 23 per cent of women who have travelled overseas said they found the experience uncomfortable and felt unsafe, and many of them said that they wouldn’t travel again as they couldn’t find a tour that was meaningful, value, trustworthy and delivered a unique experience.

The existing tours on the market were either too focused on basic accommodation with adventure during the day or the other scale with luxury accommodation and minimal adventure. So, I determined to create tours to places that are designed especially for women who want to venture out of their comfort zones, experience a new surrounding and be in a safe environment with like-minded women.

ISB: So, you have the concept, how did you turn it into a reality?

TK: The most viable entry point for starting my own business was online, so I contracted somebody I knew to build me a website. Once that was ready, in late 2014, I started marketing the business on Facebook and Instagram, and I started getting bookings in the first few weeks.

Once a client is interested in a tour I meet with them in a café if they’re in Melbourne, or talk to them on skype if they’re interstate. We don’t just sell tickets and accommodation, our tours are all-in packages with recommendations on where to eat, how much to tip and local customs and culture.

ISB: How do you put your tours together?

Having worked in the industry for a long time I had good contacts, and I only use tour operators who with established reputations who are transparent about supporting they communities in which they work – paying a fair rate to porters, clearing up after themselves and so on.

I publish dates for each tour and limit the numbers so every tour offers a unique and personalised experience.

ISB: And where do your tours go?

We concentrate on those really special places that offer more meaningful travel off the tourist path, with a view to nourishing the mind, body and soul of our clients. Our adventures include hiking to Everest Base Camp, hiking the Inca Trail, visiting Machu Picchu and seeing the Northern Lights.

ISB: How do you see the business developing in the near future?

TK: The signs are good. According to statistics published by the Lonely Planet and the CN Traveller show, 51 per cent of travellers have indicated they will be travelling by themselves in the next year and one-in-three women are choosing to travel without family or friends.

This year I will be working out of a co-working space in a hotel in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs a couple of days a week, which will give me a more professional space to meet my clients and the capacity to handle things if the business continues to grow.

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