Brian Young, the operator's new EMEA managing director, explained to Rebekah Commane how he hopes to raise the profile of the firm among travel agents
Brian Young took on the newly created role at G Adventures in March with a brief to work with more agents and expand the business.
Now, four months into the role, he is working on educating agents about the operator’s wide range and looking to partner with agent‑friendly organisations such as Clia and Tipto.
“When I got the role, a lot of people said they’d never heard of G Adventures,” said Young, who was formerly managing director of bed bank Magic Rooms
“New business partners have had the perception that, because our name has ‘adventure’ in the title, it’s all bungee-jumping and that sort of stuff. We do have that active, adrenaline‑rush product, but the variety transcends that.”
In fact, the company, which has a strong responsible tourism ethos, operates 700 tours around the world under various categories. Yolo (You Only Live Once) is a youth product aimed at 18 to 39-year-olds that offers long trips of up to six months, linking up several tours, while Comfort is aimed at the older traveller, featuring product such as safaris with comfortable lodgings.
“We ensure all accommodation is locally owned and that the money spent goes back into the community,” said Young. “We believe travel should have a positive impact on destinations. We don’t work with major hotel chains.”
G Adventures also operates its own ship, Expedition, which sails in the Arctic and Antarctic.
“We’re hoping to work with Clia. They have a massive reach with cruise agents,” said Young.
“And we’re looking at opportunities to work with Tipto because it’s about us expanding our reach to travel agents.”
Young said 75% of the operator’s UK business is through the trade as is 70% of its global business.
“For the last three or four months we’ve been out meeting with independent agents. We had consortia and agent partners and now we’re going through that whole educational piece of saying, ‘right, we’re here and this is what we do and how we do it’.
“If you’re a high street travel agent and you’ve never sold adventure before you can sit down with our team and we’ll explain what we do and how someone coming through the front door can be migrated into this space.”
The on-the-road sales team has been expanded from seven to 10, divided up regionally.
Young added: “We have to get out there face-to-face with the agent fraternity because we’re not a simple, buy-it-off-the-shelf product; it needs confidence to sell.”
G Adventures undertook seven fam trips last year and is looking to maintain this level. Online training programmes offer accreditation and incentives, such as opportunities to visit destinations.
The operator is also attending various agency conferences this year, including those of Travel Counsellors, The Travel Network Group and Travel 2.
The company is marking its 25th anniversary this year and will host several parties for agents around the UK as part of the celebrations.
“We’ve got to be more visible as an organisation, and agents are key to that,” Young added.
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