As a company, we strive to be ‘more marmite’
You may have already heard us talk about how we are not buying into the idea that people are changing their travel habits because of Covid. Whilst there might be a heightened sense of what is important, we don’t believe there have been monumental shifts in people’s wishes or desires.
But what about us as a company? Have we changed because of the pandemic? One of the opportunities that came out of the slowdown of travel, was the opportunity to assess where we are as of today, compared to what I originally set out to achieve, many months ago. I dug out my old notebooks and tried to decipher my scribbles from when two point four was nothing more than a dream following on from my travels and adventures around the world.
Overall, I am pleased to report that we haven’t deviated too far from the initial concept, bar a few tweaks along the way. In fact, I am confident we have over-delivered in many aspects and haven’t opted to take the easy road. But perhaps there were one or two places where slight adjustments wouldn’t do any harm.
Firstly, I never wanted to create a beige brand…I wanted to be more marmite. I knew going into this that not everyone would be looking for the type of travel we offer and I was okay with that. I never wanted to create a mass-market product and so I never planned to try and convert those people who dream of a holiday at Disney or onboard a cruise ship. I wanted to create a brand that isn’t scared to stand by their values, absorb criticism or negative feedback and not be afraid to tell potential customers that maybe we are not for them. This did prove to be a bigger challenge than I thought it would, especially with Covid rearing its ugly head. As all the momentum we gathered during launch started to wane as people’s focus moved away from travel as they dealt with schools closing, people getting ill and furlough, my initial response was that the only way to survive would be to please everyone and get more people talking to us. On reflection, this was not the right approach…it simply isn’t us. Marmite haven’t changed their recipe to appeal to their naysayers and neither should we. We had to stand true to our beliefs, which are that the family travel industry has been stagnant for too long now. Parents with young families are being forced to accept a sub-par product because other travel brands want to keep them in little boxes that are easy to manage, even if the ultimate experience suffers.
Less kids clubs, cruises and Disney parks…more adventure!
Which leads me nicely onto the other area where I felt we could go all-out…our experiences. I honestly do believe that our itineraries give families with young children a much more adventurous, richer travel experience, and create memories way beyond what other companies offer. I wanted more than this. I have so many friends with young children who thrive on adventure and being active. They are completing park runs, bike rides, marathons, triathlons, or any other ‘ons’ you can think of. It is something they are passionate about and they find a way to incorporate it into their everyday lives. Usually, this involves a lot of tag-teaming and juggling of schedules but they make it work. These are the same people that only a handful of years ago (before kids) were heading off on exciting adventures around the world, where they spent their time biking, hiking, surfing, diving and many others ‘ings’ too.
So why can’t they continue to enjoy these experiences now that there are children involved? Well, it is quite simple really. It’s because family travel offers nothing but kids clubs, cruises, Disney parks or soft adventure. Well not anymore. I am a parent of a young boy and I want to set an example by being fit and healthy and ticking off my travel and adventure bucket list. I want him to see me smiling because I made it to the top of a particularly difficult climb on my bike in Switzerland. Or share in my adrenalin of completing a via Ferrata in Oman. I want to share in his experiences too. I want to see him absorb the local culture of where we are as opposed to being held captive in a sterile room of a hotel kids club. I want him to learn the local languages, experience cooking local food in Italy, meeting the local wildlife in South Africa, learning to surf in Bali or even some white water rafting in Costa Rica. It is these shared experiences that bring us together as a family and create memories that will last a lifetime.
I am so excited to see that we achieved this. Our itineraries are brimming with active adventures, cultural experiences, local food and drink, as well as immersion in local communities. There is a mixture of adult-only, adrenalin-pumping experiences, as this is at the heart of what we do, as well as more family-friendly activities. To be honest it would be much easier to relinquish this goal and just accept the activities that other family travel brands put out there. Naturally, everyone gravitates to the easier path and at times, we nearly succumb too. We have had to work extra hard to ensure we have the right partners on board who understand what we are trying to do. We have invested so much time and energy into making our policies and procedures hold up to any, and all scrutiny. We have the highest standard of childcare on our trips, giving parents the peace of mind to be able to revel in those special moments where they can focus on ‘me’ for a change and not feel guilty for doing something for themselves.
I am so lucky to have a great team around me making sure that we don’t always take the easy path when facing another uphill battle, although I’m sure if they hear me say “we need to be more marmite” one more time, our WFH policy might gain in popularity.
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