Ecotourism Australia
Ecotourism Australia's 2006 International Conference

Brad Horn
Epic Private Journeys
  Brad Horn

By design and desire a professional adventurer, Brad Horn has spent the past decade working at the luxury end of the adventure travel market both in Africa and Australia. Brad's passion is wild and natural places; a passion nurtured growing up on a cattle station and as an Infantry Officer in the Australian Army. Brad then spent six wonderful years living in the African bush operating luxury safaris. Indeed Brad was responsible for setting up operations in Botswana for luxury travel house, Abercrombie & Kent. He then returned to Australia as Managing Director of A&K's operations in Australia and New Zealand.

In 2003 Brad established Epic Private Journeys, a boutique tour operation that specialises in handcrafting the ultimate luxury adventure travel experiences to Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Over the years Brad has developed enduring relationships with the best operators in these destinations. Brad guides many safaris annually, most of these to Africa. These range from climbs of Mt Kilimanjaro and gorilla trekking, to luxury safaris through the finest camps and lodges of Southern Africa.

- "An Epic Story - The challenge of maintaining the integrity of travel amidst ever increasing luxury".

"The value of life lies not in the length of days but the use we make of them" - Michel de Montaigne 1533-1592

As we progress in the new millennium leisure time is increasingly seen as a currency to be maximised. People are working harder and longer than ever before to the point where leisure time is becoming an extremely valuable commodity, so much so that the value proposition in travel is now not one of money but rather time. Managing and maximising the client experience is therefore the critical success factor of any holiday experience; in wilderness travel perhaps more so.

There appears to be an increasing proportion of wilderness travel product that "trades in the mundane" - passive observation rather than active participation. Increased competition, fragmentation of the traditional travel distribution chain and margin-squeeze has given rise to a prescriptive approach to holiday planning. On top of all this, wilderness accommodation providers seem to be trading luxury at the expense of the experience - the experience of luxury rather than the luxury of the experience.

Enter into the fray Epic Private Journeys, a boutique tour operation whose focus is the ultimate in handcrafted travel experiences. Epic's core premise is the "pursuit of the rare experience". We recognise that whilst the trimmings of a holiday are important, it is more so the detail that is critical. A glass of chilled champagne is all the more memorable for where you drink it and with whom you enjoy it. People are what make an epic journey. Having the right people to both plan and manage the client experience on the ground is crucial.

In the ensuing discussion, I contend that it is the "softs" more so than the "hards" that hold the key to success in travel. That said the world is changing. Clients now seem to have an insatiable desire for luxury. This is often traded at the expense of the experience. The old saying of "you don't know what you don't know" is increasingly poignant. The challenge at the luxury end of the travel market today is the enlightenment of clients about what they don't know!


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