Adventure Travel & Backpackers Expo is up For Sale / Seeking Offers

June 5th, 2017 | | Accommodation

After three years of owning and running the Adventure Travel & Backpackers Expo, Stephen Choularton of OFM Exhibitions has put the business up for sale. An industry insider broke the news to The Byte just last week and we contacted Stephen, who also owns the Organic Food Markets, he confirmed the sale. Many readers will recall that it was in 2014 that Stephen bought the business from Andrew Paltridge.

In 2014, Stephen was confident in the format’s success: “We have no plans to change the successful format of these exhibitions, but will be pushing to expand inbound exhibitors to serve the larger number of inbound tourist we expect to come to the Expos.”

While Stephen hasn’t yet announced his next move, he is keeping hold of the Organic Food Markets, they remain his priority and he hinted that the Expo didn’t quite meet his initial expectations. “It turned out that the activity was a little remote from our normal line of business [running the weekly markets],” he explained.

“We ran a few successful expos but it turned out that the activity had a different business culture which did not fit in well with our other activities,” he admitted.

If you’re interested in taking over the Expo business, Stephen is currently seeking offers and you can contact Stephen directly on


A study in 2015 looked at the benefits of trade events in supporting Australian tourism, however it hinted at the short-sightedness of their approach. According to the Business Events Council of Australia:

“This study demonstrates that business events are a major economic driver for the Australian economy, but the current approach to valuing these benefits is focused on immediate tourism spending of delegates, event expenditure and venue utilisation. This focus on short term impacts masks the wider and more enduring benefits of business events associated with support for infrastructure development, business relationships, knowledge transfer and industry investment.”

While The Byte recognises the Expo as an essentially consumer focused event there are significant run on benefits of like those listed above that are perhaps underestimated. The need to meet and talk to colleagues, clients and competitors remains integral to our sector. It can’t all be done ‘over the net’.

Written by Alex Harmon

6 Responses

  1. Greg A says:

    It was the most badly organised event on the backpacker calendar before they bought it but became even worse when they did! They had no idea about the backpacker market and appeared disinterested from day one.
    It will take a massive amount of work to get anywhere near to what it was ten years ago before Andrew started to ruin things.

    • Leigh Kealton says:

      What a sad comment on an event we invented in 1995, against the odds and not without our critics, but turned into a fun, successful and sustainable gathering of the international operators and travellers and which soon spurred us into starting ABiC. These events are not easy to run and require huge focus. I hope an entrepreneurial buyer is found as it can play a huge role in the ongoing relevance of the sector. The internet will never totally replace face-to-face contact especially in such a vibrant, people-focused, enthusiastic industry.

      • Well said Leigh. Its always sad to see people make these sorts of comments hiding behind fake names!
        Hopefully the industry can once again support the events and work together like they once did. Apart from the very end of my ownership of the expo, the sponsors were great and worked in the best interest of the industry, rather than in a disjointed way with rumors, running parallel events and more.

        • Dave says:

          Fake name / no-name / pets name is irrelevant, the fact is the event went downhill and fast. Greg’s comment was not dismissive and in fact shows hope that someone might put in the work and get it back to it’s glory days.
          Last year was terrible, I would even go so far as to say it was embarrassing for the industry.
          If you can’t see how bad the last few years of the expo have been then your rose tinted glasses must be well and truly clouded with nostalgia.
          Good luck to whoever buys it, I personally can think of much safer investments, like a handful of magic beans for example. And before you question why I attended if it was so bad, probably the same reason people slow down to look at car crashes…………………

  2. Paul says:

    So what exactly is he offering for sale? There is no goodwill or collateral as such. A business name only costs $40 to register so how does $50 sound?

  3. Greg A says:

    Andrew! Taking offence was not the intended outcome! but on that subject, you were a bit insincere! You would always be looking over someone’s shoulder looking for someone more important to talk to! Take the criticism and move on mate. It worked really well before you bought it, ok for a couple of years when you had it and then not so well in the last couple of years when you had to cost cut and were looking to get out. I think that is a fair call.
    As for being a fake name my name is Greg!