Jot Lynas is only 30 but already he has founded a business which turns over $6 million a year by hosting parties on tropical islands for schoolies week.
It’s coming up to Lynas’ busiest time of year but he had a chat to SmartCompany about how travel agents are still important in the travel agency, the need for trust and how he first spotted the idea for Unleashed Travel and founded the business with Steve Pirie, 29, and Bryan Scott, 40.
How did you spot the niche for Unleashed Travel?
I saw a demand for young school leavers wanting to do more with their schoolies holiday or party.
There was a growing demand to go overseas as well and do something, so it was born out of talking to a lot of different people and travel agents and kids and working out exactly what they wanted and tailoring a product to suit. Then we put it to market, and it sold straight away, and we were kind of blown away with how it all happened.
When we first ran the trip we didn't anticipate how popular it would be. We thought, “Well look, if we can take 400 kids every year, we can have a bit of a holiday, have a bit of a good time, and show some kids a good time.”
After the first year, when the first 400 were leaving, they were crying – they didn't want to leave, they had the time of their lives. We then decided that we were onto something there, and we wanted to give more kids that same experience.
How hard was it to set up that first trip?
Look, it was hard. Obviously we had to set up a company and I was 25 at the time. So, we had to form a company, get a travel agent's licence, which was a very hard thing, and we had about $1,000 to our name. We had to seek some investment and that was the biggest hurdle, along with getting the travel agent's licence. But once we had that, we were able to pre-sell 18 months in advance, so we had deposits coming in which meant that we could facilitate the travel plans.
How did you get that initial investment?
We brought on an older partner and they had $20,000 that they injected.
How did you go about growing Unleashed Travel after that one trip in the first year?
A lot of the marketing was done by the kids that travelled with us, so the word-of-mouth was really, really positive and it spread quite quickly. We amplified that word-of-mouth via Facebook, and that helped the growth and also the recognition of our brand and our company. They were really the main drivers, as well as take up from the travel agents.
Travel agents are our primary outlet for our packages, so we were looking after them at the same time, and we paid them good commissions to sell our product. We made the booking as simple as possible for them, so it wasn't hard. So we had the agencies as well as the returning kids spreading the word.
How has your background helped you do this?
I was working for Top Deck, which offers European and Australian and New Zealand coach touring for 18 to 30-somethings. I was the national sales and marketing manager and I had a lot of company mentors and people in senior management roles above me.
I used to sponge as much information as possible from those guys about how to deal with staff, how to deal with retailers, and that kind of thing. Then I had a lot of relationships with retailers as well, with travel agents around the place. They knew me through another company, so they sort of trusted me.
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