The Venture Travel Story
From childhood friends to Business Partners- Founders Ben Owen and Hugh Bourne met in school where they first discovered they had a passion for business. After leaving school and working in travel for just a few years the pair spotted a gap in the market. The business launched in October 2017 but the Venture Travel story actually started in 2007!
Where it all began…
Ben and Hugh met playing football on the fields next to their homes in Mold, North Wales. The pair with their friends would play football every night after school.
It was time to get a part-time job! But instead of this the pair decided to sell sweets, drinks and crisps on the school playground so they had more free time at the weekend (to play more football)
Throughout school the pair set up numerous businesses including a furniture company, personalised gift company, Utilities provider and sold items at car boot sales. Some of these “businesses” were successful and others not so much!
Ben went on to study Business Management at Manchester Metropolitan University on a 4 year course where he spent a year in industry working at a cultural exchange company in their sales team.
Hugh left school and worked in his local high street travel agency. He progressed to assistant manager, within 18 months, in the company’s top performing store in the region. Ben went on to work in offline marketing in Liverpool for a year after graduating.
After 6 months of planning, the pair both left their full-time jobs to set up Venture Travel. The first task was to secure an ATOL licence and to gain contracts with all the major suppliers in the industry.
The duo had very little money to get the business up and running so, therefore, relied on a free logo-maker and social media. On the 8th of October 2017, Venture Travel was launched with just a Facebook page and 22 likes!
With no money to spend on marketing the pair messaged 1000s of potential customers- including messages that led to bookings from celebrities, footballers and reality TV stars.
The business started to gain recognition locally for its celebrity bookings and growing reputation from people who had travelled or booked with Venture Travel previously. As sales continued to grow more, Ben and Hugh met with suppliers at events in order to help further expand the business and make booking through Venture Travel easier for our customers.
As sales hit £500,000- Ben and Hugh were asked to speak at numerous high schools and universities about how to set up a business at a young age.
As we celebrated our 1st birthday, we were nominated for numerous awards both locally and nationally. This included being shortlisted (and eventually becoming runners up) in the TTG Young Travel Agency of the year.
We were invited to attend The Global Travel Conference in Orlando where Ben spoke on stage in front of 300 other travel agents and suppliers including Emirates, Virgin and Jet2Holidays about the Venture Travel story and how to market on social media.
We ended the year winning the Best Newcomer in the North 2018 and were presented the award by Stephen Mulhern who had flown out for the awards night in Orlando.
After a fantastic start to 2019, both Ben and Hugh headed to London to become the first company directors to both make it into the TTG 30 under 30 which highlights the 30 people under the age of 30 to watch in travel.
As the company continued to grow, so did the team. We worked closely with our accountant, graphic designer, Social media marketer and added a home worker and part-time staff member to our team.
It was time to head to London again, this time for the award of Travel Weekly’s ones to watch award. This award highlighted the best up and coming travel agency in the U.K. which Venture Travel was delighted to win.
After a fantastic year – we headed on our annual Christmas party. Having previously visited Portugal and Mainland Spain this year it was time to head to Malta.
After our best ever start to a year sales had grown to over £1.4m with customers returning for their 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th holidays with Venture Travel.
The COVID-19 pandemic spread across the U.K. As a company Venture Travel faced its biggest challenge with over 97% of bookings cancelled, the team working from home and 1000’s of refunds to process. Despite this we were able to deliver refunds to all customers within 28 working days, with an average refund time of just 8 working days.
Despite the pandemic, sales for 2021 and 2022 holidays have been fantastic with many customers re-booking holidays to have something to look forward to after a tough 2020. On top of this, we brought on new suppliers including EasyJet Holidays which was heavily requested by customers.