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I keep prices low by reducing commission rates, says WanderlustAU

glennGlenn Anderson is the founder of WanderlustAU, a travel consultancy business which aims to help everyone get the right product for the right price. This Whitsundays-based company caught our eye when its Facebook mission statement claimed to beat 90% of competitor quotes. We decided to get the official low-down from Glenn himself.

Tell us about your background within the tourism industry 

I have worked in tourism since 2006. Working on tour boats in the Whitsundays and in various hotels around Australia.  Starting as a deckhand on the boats before working my way up and studying to complete my Skipper’s ticket.  I’ve worked for a handful of companies which allowed me to see the diversity in the tourism market. As a result,  I have had the pleasure of talking about the industry in depth with everyone from Russian billionaires to 18-year-old backpackers.

Give us the run-down on WanderlustAU, what is your game plan?

WanderlustAU is a solo venture that has been created to enhance the desire to travel in Australia and surrounding islands.  I achieve this by only selling the best tours in their respective price range and by selling them with a local’s discount no matter who is booking the trip. Too many packages on offer are currently including trips that should never be booked due to their many flaws such as, inexperienced, unhappy, underpaid tour guides, operating boats and vehicles that are far from safe, and just barely abide by laws and regulations to keep operating.  These tours are inserted into the packages to make the overall price as cheap as possible, though for a small amount extra you could go from peasant to pleasant.  We all know that its the tour guides that make or break trips.  I refuse to sell below average trips.

We also focus heavily on finding the right trip for the right person, be it a goon-fueled party for the young and single or a quiet, tranquil tour for the newlyweds.

What inspired you to start up this company on your own?

My inspiration came from my seemingly unshakable habit of wondering how I can improve something.  There are many problems within the tourism industry currently and my goal is to fix them, one day at a time, one tour at a time.  If I could generate enough of a market, we could potentially irradiate inadequate tours.  Though that is likely to be a 15-20 year mission.

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You say you have access to over 26,000 products in Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Asia, are you booking through a channel manager?

Yes, I am using the wonderful system put together by Website Travel, which makes bookings and payment incredibly easy.  They currently have over 26,000 products and are increasing the range at a rapid rate. They also offer excellent help and support for people like me, always the guide never the agent.

How do you intend to keep your prices low?

Keeping prices low is simply a matter of reducing commission rates.  Being independent I am able to drop commission to levels that a regular travel agent working in a large company could never do without losing their job.  All travel agencies work on commission which needs to be divided between the employee, supervisors, managers and executives, which gives very little wiggle room on price.  Agents have all kinds of tricks to sell, the most common being reducing the price because they ‘like you’ – they are simply bringing the tour down to a price close to what it should realistically be sold for.

What are some of the problems you have faced working in the backpacking industry?

I think its more of a market shift that is not properly addressed as its happening.  Australia used to be cheap, even going back 6 years I remember working on a party boat that was full of 18 year old Europeans fresh out of school.  Their parents had given them $5000 to disappear for 5 months in Australia, and they did, successfully.  These days it seems you would need closer to $15,000 for the same duration and tours, which has shifted the market to a more civilized, older and educated crowd that have worked hard to save for their trip.

The new crowd wants different things and some operators are refusing to change, which to me is the single biggest problem.  In saying this, some operators have taken the change and accelerated it to a whole new level, Ride To Paradise in the Whitsundays is a perfect example, they have taken a standard backpacker trip and turned it into a proper 5 star experience, with no real price increase.

What do you believe is the solution to these problems?

Honesty, like with every problem in life.  Be honest to the backpackers, don’t book tours that are not up to scratch.  Just because it is cheap and makes the company good commission does not excuse the agent from booking it. Backpackers come here for the time of their life, and to make stories that they will tell to their grand children.  I would have thought that we, Australia, would be working together to make those stories the best they can possibly be, though unfortunately it is not the case.  WanderlustAU works very closely with the tour guides, not the operators, which gives us a very in depth insiders honest view on the tours. We have friends who are tour guides strategically placed in all the main destinations along the east coast of Australia, informants if you like, whose names will never be revealed.  It has taken a few years to get to this stage, and I am very excited to finally be putting it all together.

 

Take a look at WanderlustAU for yourself here and tell us what you think. Have your say

Interviewed by Alex Harmon





15 Responses

  1. David says:

    So basically it’s another website travel user/agent who is going to discount the products on offer on website travel to undercut other agents, what a creative business model.

    I wonder how other website travel agents feel about Glenn’s strategy, will they feel he is creating the attitude among backpackers that they are overcharging customers by simply offering to sell the products at their correct retail price.

    And what about the operators, are they happy Glenn is devaluing their product with his discounting strategy?

    Or is website travel simply overcharging for the products they offer in the first place? Glenn states “they are simply bringing the tour down to a price close to what it should realistically be sold for” are the operators and website travel conspiring together and overcharging for their tours? What do the operators think about Glenn saying their tours aren’t worth the money they are asking for?

    • Glenn says:

      Hi David,

      I appreciate your reply, though i would just like to clarify a couple of things. Yes i am just another Website Travel Agent, though I have no intention of ‘Undercutting’ other agents. A large majority of agents offer a ‘beat any quote guarantee’, which is the true meaning of undercutting. I do not have that policy, as I don’t believe that is fair business.

      My locals discounts are no cheaper than any other agents. However I won’t pressure someone to pay up and book immediately, as it makes no real difference to me because i have no overheads.

      You quoted, “they are simply bringing the tour down to a price close to what it should realistically be sold for”. This was regarding tours that should not be operating (in my opinion). Full retail price for an excellent tour is not something i or anybody else should be reducing. When a tourist wants to book a trip they should be looking at reviews on trip advisor and talking to other backpackers, from there they will see that the more expensive tours are actually worth the money and should be sold at full price. Trip advisor is something i highly encourage.

      As a small, local word of mouth based new business in an industry riddled with politics and red tape i would like to let the other agents know that i am not here to steal their business, undercut them or make backpackers think they should be getting a better deal. I am simply trying to join an already established industry, and i apologize if my words gave anybody any other impression.

      • Greg A says:

        Rubbish Glen!
        You are the same as everyone else and part of what is endemically wrong with the industry.
        Nice try though!

        • Nat says:

          David, Who are you to put down someone’s ideas! He’s not trying to reduce the price of the actual tours he’s just saying he’ll sell the ones he trusts to be good value at a reduced commission! Jeez blow things out of proportion mate. I’ve worked in the same industry and I know that some tours are lacking but still charge the same as a well operated trip. He’s just trying to make it easier for people not to get dooped by shitty boats and crews with bad attitudes! Bloody next time u decide to get on your high horse take a chill pill!!!

          • Dave says:

            Hi Nat,

            Let me get this right, Greg A cannot put down someone’s ideas, but it’s ok for you to put down someone’s opinion? Bit two-faced isn’t it?

            Can you please explain how Glenn is not trying to reduce the price of the actual tours, when his website clearly advertises “10% off absolutely everything” is this not reducing the price?

  2. This interview is hilarious. Glenn’s vast 5 year knowledge of a troubled industry, his secret strategicly placed tour guides giving the inside scoop of businesses they work for, Russian billionaires, and a discount website to save the day! Is Glenn the new 007? Sure seems he wants to look the part in the photo😂

    FYI a simple FB name search and can see young Glenn works for the mentioned Ride To Paradise, that’s strange

    • Glenn says:

      Thank you for your reply Glenn,

      I need you and everyone to know that i do NOT work for ‘Ride to Paradise’ and i am in no way working with them or for them in the venture.
      I have worked for several companies over the years, Thundercat included, but this is a solo business not a marketing strategy for another company.

      Also, my tour guide friends are no secret. Guides tend to live a rapidly changing lifestyle and move around more than most, it just so happens that i have friends in all the major stops around Australia now.

      I don’t see myself as a 007 type Mr Bond, and you should know that i did not select that photo.

      Kind Regards,
      Glenn.

      • John B says:

        A simple google search would indicate that Ride To Paradise – who quote, “you do not work for” is owned and operated by Red Cat Adventures.

        Incidentally, it would seem they also own and operate Thundercat?

        As a local experienced guide, please enlighten us as to your knowledge of the travel agent industry as it would seem you have no experience in this as you also admitted. It is quite a different world than the land of “tour guiding” as I am sure you are about to find out.

        Best of luck with your original business venture.

        • Nat says:

          Glenn and John, Just because you Facebook someone doesn’t mean you know their experience or their work history in an industry… Why must you all put someone down for having an idea and following it through.

    • Alex Harmon says:

      Hi Bond, I take responsibility for the photo, I plucked it from his FB page. I asked Glenn for photos but only received photos of his website and wanted to personalise the story. I wish Glenn all the best in his endeavour.

  3. Sarah says:

    Good on you glen for trying something new in an industry stuck in its ways!! Ps are you single? 😉

  4. Greg A says:

    He sound s like a right hero this bloke!
    What a load of tosh!
    Why did you waste your time interviewing this non revolutionary fool Alex?!

    • Alex Harmon says:

      Hi Greg, we believe everyone deserves a fair crack and we are merely giving Glenn a platform to reveal his business model, we are not in any way promoting him. We didn’t realise Glenn would be so generous in outlining his game plan, but in no way are we calling him a hero.

      Sure he’s gung ho, but in this competitive industry you’ve got to be!

  5. Griswald says:

    Nice looking website Glenn, good on you for having a crack. One thing though, you danced around David’s question about how operators feel about you discounting their direct rates? I assume you have the operators permission to do this and they are happy with it? There is a very noticeable claim on the bottom of your landing page.

  6. Greg says:

    Always good to see someone having a crack, but without even a live booking capability I can’t see why someone would use this site over others, or why it is preferable to the bricks & mortar agents with the spruikers outside pulling them in off the street?