In an interview with Insights Success, Dan Austin, the Founder and President of Austin Adventures unveils the key insights on how the company is allowing its guests to experience the land, the people, and the culture in the most immersive, energizing, and inspiring way possible.
Below are the highlights of an interview:
Give a brief overview of the company, its uniqueness, and its vision.
For over 35 years, Austin Adventures has created meticulously curated, ultra-personalized adventures that allow our guests to experience a destination in the most immersive, energizing, and inspiring way possible.
Family owned and operated, it’s not unusual for a guest to interact directly with Dan, Carol, Andy, or Kasey Austin. At the same time, small and personal doesn’t mean limited. We offer more than 80 active tours on all seven continents and gladly plan custom dream vacations.
As a boutique tour operator based in Montana, we bring our western ethos of hospitality and honesty to every relationship—be it a new guest, a seasoned alumni, our office staff, or our guides. We listen with empathy and put our guests first—always.
Ultimately, we believe travel has the power to change us, to let us see the world, and our role in it, through a new lens. This is our vision for each and every guest: to leave us feeling fulfilled, invigorated, and transformed—knowing they are now family and are welcome anytime.
Kindly describe the contemporary travel experience solutions offered by Austin Adventures.
In our era of options, we know there is no shortage of choices on where to go, how to get there, or who to go with. At Austin Adventures, our primary contemporary travel experience solution is simplicity.
We know how daunting it can be to plan activities, dining, lodging, relaxation, and transportation logistics for a wide range of ages and ability levels. We not only take care of all the planning, we do it in such a way that each guest will have their best experience of a place possible.
Anyone can pick a hotel or restaurant based on online reviews; we have the access and connections to provide dining and lodging that perfectly capture and enhance a destination. We know how to balance immersive activities like hiking, biking, kayaking, and zip lining with leisurely strolls, wine tastings, and stories beneath a breathtaking landscape. Our travel solution is not where to go or what to do but how to deeply connect with friends, family, local cultures, and nature in some of the most beautiful places on the planet.
Describe the experiences, achievements or lessons learned that have shaped the journey of the company.
The great thing about operating a travel company as an avid active traveler is that every experience shapes the journey of the company. Dan Austin never stops learning, and he never stops striving to be the best in the business. He encourages his staff to do likewise. Earning top honors from Travel + Leisure, or Conde Nast Traveler, or National Geographic is humbling—and something we work hard for—but those honors are milestones on a continuous journey of improvement.
By far the best accolade we could possibly accrue is the loyalty and support of our Alumni, a whopping 98.8 percent of whom indicate they would travel with us again. We couldn’t be more grateful for our repeat travelers, who—along with their referrals—are the number one source of our business. The lessons we learn by listening to each of our guests are what keep us learning and improving every day.
What are the challenges faced while providing an enriching travel experience solutions and how is Austin Adventures serving to tackle them?
At Austin Adventures, we like to look at challenges as opportunities. It can be challenging to stay on top of the ever-changing logistics of transporting and caring for a wide variety of guests all with different ability levels. To tackle this opportunity, we ask our guides to be our eyes and ears and continually improve itineraries based on guide observation and guest feedback. We also tackle this challenge of exceeding guest expectations by capping our trips at 12 guests (18 on family trips) and offering the lowest guest-to-guide ratio in the industry at 6:1.
Another challenge is providing enriching travel at an exceptional value. To tackle this opportunity, each year we take a close look at how we stack up value-wise with our competitors, and then we adjust our rates, terms, conditions, and inclusions to secure ourselves as the leader of the pack.
How according to you could be the potential evolution of the travel and tourism industry, and how does Austin Adventures envision sustaining its competency?
As travel becomes more accessible to more people, we see adventure travel evolving to include more than just hiking, biking, and experiencing a locale. Travelers want a deeper experience, a unique memory, and the chance to make an impact on their own life and the lives of others.
Austin Adventures is ahead of the curve in sustaining its lead in the industry. Since 2018, we have partnered with positive lifestyle brand Life is Good to offer tours that live out their ethos of embracing the power of positivity.
This year, in 2019, Austin Adventures is launching its Digital Detox tours that will make a radical impact in the lives of guests who ditch their digital devices and all talk about stress-inducing topics in order to reconnect with each other and with beauty. For decades, Austin Adventures has also been renowned for its “WOW Factor,” a highly tuned skill of anchoring special moments on our trips with an additional “WOW”—a thoughtful, unexpected touch that becomes an oft-talked about memory of the trip.
About the Leader
Dan Austin is a boots-on-the-ground influencer in the company, offering daily guidance and inspiration to his small but dedicated team, interacting with guests, ensuring guides lead his trips the way he would, and curating new trips by personally experiencing and evaluating every detail. Always eager to give back, Dan has also served on his local tourism board and the state’s council on tourism, as well as recent past President of the Zoo Montana Board; continues to operate Wheels of Change, a nonprofit that gathers and ships donated bicycles to Africa amidst other community development projects; and is regularly asked to speak at or contribute to travel expos and articles.