Radha Vyas launched the smart adventure travel firm – The Flash Pack – just 16 months ago. Already business is booming and the Flash Pack has made a global media impact on a tiny budget. It’s a great case study of how to make a bold start with more dash than cash.
Former charity fundraiser, and co-founder of the Flash Pack, Radha is literally a woman on the move. She walks the talk on travel:
Vacations are not just what you live – but what you bring back home”
Radha has been travelling since her parents took her backpacking across India at the age of three. Then suddenly at the age of 33 she found herself in need of holiday but had no-one to go with. A group tour to Cambodia looked inspiring and dynamic so she signed up. But what turned out to be a cookie cutter experience was so disappointing that it provoked Radha to think that maybe she could do better herself.
“We were ferried from air-conditioned bus to air-conditioned hotel and ate our watery noodles in specified tourist restaurants to avoid any possibility of an upset stomach.
When I got back home my dad excitedly asked me lots of questions about Cambodian culture, people and everyday life. I couldn’t answer a single question! My dad looked at me like I was some kind of idiot but I’d had zero contact with any Cambodians.
I had no funny stories of lost-in-translation moments with locals, no amazing street food recommendations or any idea of what life is like for an ordinary Cambodian. The whole trip was a canned experience, spent ticking off the usual tourist destinations and snapping Facebook profile pictures. It was bland, just like our noodles and I was left feeling totally unsatisfied.”
It’s a great example of how frustration and anger can in fact be the seed of a brilliant business idea. And when you know for sure how poor the alternatives are, it can literally embolden you to take the step to set up a business.
Research. Research. Research.
Radha started researching the group tour industry and realised that it was set up solely for young gap year students and pensioners. There was nothing for solo travellers who are busy professionals and aren’t looking for a singles holiday. It seemed to be a gaping market gap crying out for a new business to fill it.
Focus groups confirmed Radha’s own experience. She found that women in particular want to experience travel as an adventurous and transformative experience, but see group tours are outdated and unattractive. “Loads of people are missing out on amazing travel experiences because they have no one to travel with, and an increasing number of women wanting to take career breaks but daunted by the prospect of going it alone.”
While frustration had emboldened Radha, solid research and shared experience from many other people like herself motivated and propelled her and business partner, Lee Thompson, during the start-up phase.
Manage your energy levels
For the first year Radha kept her day job to finance the business development. It was exhausting and involved working full-time 9-5 and then another shift on The Flash Pack until the early hours of the morning. If you don’t plan diet and exercise into a schedule like that, you will not survive. Radha had gym sessions with a personal trainer two mornings a week and made sure that she kept her diet health.
Be creative. And then some
With zero budget and nothing more than a GoPro and some positivity, The Flash Pack team came up with the idea of a topical and outrageous ‘selfie’ to spread the word about the company on social media. The result was ‘Christ the Redeemer Selfie‘ taken from the top of the eponymous statue in Rio De Janeiro.
Timing the release of the image to coincide with the start of the World Cup in Brazil, the story went viral and was picked up by the world’s media. The London-based start-up was covered by The Huffington Post UK, Buzzfeed, MTV, New York Post, Telegraph, BBC and Yahoo. The immediate business results were around a million hits on the website in 4 days and £40,000 worth of orders in a month.
The stunt earned the company its first bookings: the early adopters every business needs to start to make an impact. And it also earned them a major award, beating Cancer Research UK’s No Make-up Selfie to win this year’s UK Social Media Communications Award for Best Viral Campaign.
A marketing budget can help. But, as The Flash Pack team have shown, when it comes to getting noticed online – dash is more important than cash.
The Flash Pack is now offering Luxury Adventure Group Trips to four continents.