Interview with Carl Cronje & Jakes Maritz, Directors & Co-Founders, Expat Explore Travel
This year you are celebrating 10 years as an ETOA member. Can you tell us about Expat Explore’s journey through the years?
We started Expat Explore in 2005 equipped with a passion for travel, 800 pound sterling, sheer determination, and an utmost belief that travel enriches lives. And it has been a wonderful journey. Growing from personally tour-leading groups through Europe to 20 000 pax per year has been incredible in so many ways. The effect our initiative has had on so many people from all around the world has been humbling.
There have been challenges, of course. The financial crises, attacks in Europe, Brexit, the Virus that Shall not be named, and the recent invasion of Ukraine. However, our approach has always been to overcome challenges in an innovative way, which has been our saving grace, especially in the last two years.
Are there any new developments you would like to share?
The last 2 years have been especially challenging for the industry, us included. However, we pride ourselves in our ability to face challenges with resilience and find opportunities during difficult times. We’ve spent our time designing 4 new business models which we know will give the international travel fraternity a huge boost and accelerate the recovery of travel. As a matter of fact, one of these can be described as revolutionary and will bring about a seismic shift in the travel landscape.
Without revealing too much, we’ve always had technology and technological innovations at the heart of our business. In the last two years, we’ve used the travel hiatus to develop a new technological approach to travel, which we’re sure will benefit the industry as a whole. Therefore, watch this space…
How does the ETOA membership benefit you?
The biggest benefit by far for us as a Tour Operator is the networking opportunities at the numerous ETOA events.
Our business has really changed over the past 10 years, mainly due to countless new supplier partnerships involved in these events. We look back fondly now to our first-ever event back in Brussels at the HEM and we are still working with hotel partners that we met at this event.
Membership also allowed us to be exposed to a much bigger pool of suppliers and connections enabling us to do new business much faster than ever before. We particularly fancy the annual GEM and we’ve grown to where we now have 4 networking stations at GEM.
We also find ETOA to be an invaluable support partner. Whenever we require advice or insight, it is given to us without hesitation.