Craig Burkinshaw has turned a passion for backpacking into a thriving travel business. “We looked at the travel industry and felt we could do a better job of it,” he says. Audley Travel, which has been providing authentic travel experiences to customers since 1996, now employs 200 people and has grown 89 per cent during the past four years to record most-recent turnover of £36.3m.
Burkinshaw says one of the reasons the company has done so well is that the consultants know what they’re talking about. The travel business, however, isn’t an easy game and he admits he wouldn’t have tried it had he known how tough it was. “The main thing is sheer competitive pressure,” he says. “We didn’t realise how tight the market is. The average travel company is profitable at 1.3 percent – and it’s getting worse.” The internet is partly to blame; holidaymakers can now organise the trip of a lifetime from their lounge room. Audley Travel is moving with the times, however, and has just launched a new website.