‘The success of our Japan brand has mirrored the huge growth in the popularity of all things Japanese’
Alastair Donnelly, Co-Founder of the Inside Travel Group, recently spoke to Business Leader about the impressive growth of the company, its recovery from the pandemic, and why people should consider travelling to Asia.
Congratulations on the Top 100 Business in the Southwest award. How did Inside Travel Group get to where it is today?
It has been quite a journey. In September 2000, after three years teaching English in Japan, we were travelling back to the UK overland. Somewhere between Beijing and Moscow, we’d had this idea of taking tour groups around Japan. Not long after, at my mum’s house in Nailsea, Bristol, InsideJapan Tours was born. The success of our Japan brand has mirrored the huge growth in the popularity of all things Japanese. We’ve always maintained a strong focus on making sure every trip is the best it can be and every interaction with the business is enjoyable. It doesn’t matter whether you want to travel to Borneo, Vietnam or Tokyo. We know our stuff and deliver high-quality, friendly service all the way.
The pandemic has been a bad time for travel. How is it looking for InsideJapan and InsideAsia?
Travel has been hit harder than almost any other sector. And long haul to Asia is probably the worst of all. Our pandemic started in mid-January 2020 and to all intents and purposes, borders to all our destinations are currently closed. However, we’ve spent the last 18 months improving the business so that when travel resumes our clients will be getting a better service and choice of trips than ever before. I can’t say a big enough thank you to all those people who have postponed their trips up to four times now but still keep their bookings live – They have backed us throughout. I really believe that we are getting into the home straight now though and that we are just weeks away from being able to operate trips again. And that will be a really special moment.
Why should people consider travelling with InsideAsia and InsideJapan?
When you book with us the whole process from your first enquiry is all part of the fun. The team are incredibly knowledgeable and super-friendly which makes planning a trip a real joy. It’s like having your own expert holiday planning PA who is there to make sure you get absolutely the experience you want. Our job is to collaborate with you to turn all those things that matter to you into a perfect trip. One thing we have always believed in is doing business the right way, and putting people, places, and the environment ahead of short-term profits and I strongly believe that this philosophy shines through in everything we do.
What plans do you have for the Inside Travel Group?
Expect to see more destinations being added to our portfolio over the coming months and years. We completed a complete brand refresh with InsideAsia in 2020, built a new website, and have added several fabulous new destinations to our line-up. My personal favourite of the new line up is South Korea so if you want to check out the home of kimchi, K-pop, and Korean barbecue, there really is only one company to come to!
Give us a reason why we should make one of your Asian destinations our next trip?
After the last 18 months we all need a holiday! And Asia is the perfect place to deliver that feeling of getting away from the day-to-day being immersed in a totally different world. The energy and excitement of Asia is there the moment you step off the plane.