Bucket Shop – The 80’s
The name Reho Travel originated in the dark grey streets of London back in the 70’s. In those days, many of the airfares sold were one way, and for only a few pounds one could escape a drab existence and create a brand new life on the shores of ‘the lucky country’ on the other side of the world. In 1982 the brand came to Australia and helped to transform the industry with the “bucket shop” concept, where low price was the key market differentiator.
Transformation – Building Values (90’s)
With the 90’s came the emergence of the internet and a time when low cost competition started appearing on every street corner. A decision was made at Reho Travel to transform its business. It felt that a strategy which was focused purely on price was simply a race to the bottom of the pool. Words like ‘quality, flexibility and creativity’ became commonplace; substantial investments in business re-design were made; major travel industry awards were won as a result and suddenly Reho Travel was picking up a new kind of traveller – the business traveller. Within a few years its clients became a mixture of corporate and leisure travellers with a diverse range of needs.
One specialised niche that grew exponentially during those years was the group travel market – in particular the management of Study Tours for universities, schools and private corporations which was a major contributor to its gross turnover.
Maturity – Developing Brands (The 00’s)
By the turn of the century, its clientele represented by the individual business traveller had morphed into a suite of global corporations and universities and Reho was rapidly becoming recognised as a Travel Management Company. At the same time the occasional group departure had developed into a separate division specialising solely in Study Tours, in addition to the corporate and leisure brands. It was now a highly visible travel management company where phrases like ‘Duty of Care, Self Booking Tool, Compliance and Data Analysis’ were significant considerations.
Throughout this time of progressive change over the last twenty years, Reho Travel’s CEO, Karsten Horne has been the driving force behind developing the business into the highly visible award-winning and customer-focused establishment that it is today… a company that has grown from humble beginnings into a $30 million company.
With rapid technological and social change being witnessed in the second decade of the new millennium, Karsten and his people at Reho Travel have been broadening their horizons and re-thinking what it means to be a thriving business in an increasingly interdependent world. This comes in the form of a new level of sophistication regarding Reho’s place in the world as a global citizen.
The future – Making a Stand
As Reho Travel has grown and matured, its aim has been to create a work environment that attracts and retains high quality staff who are motivated to provide exceptional service and continuous innovation in a company that is highly respected within the travel industry.
But more importantly, Reho has also realised that it has a responsibility to take a stand and show leadership with its environmental and community initiatives. Everyone working at Reho Travel understands what a privilege it is for them to work for a company and in an industry that provides them with unlimited opportunities for personal travel and career development. It is essential for their own advancement that they travel widely to gain the experience and it is through seeing the world that they come to understand how lucky we all are to be living here in Australia.
Reho’s first step in taking on this more holistic perspective of global citizenship was the opening of Rehope Microcredit Agency in Malawi.
This initiative grew out of a chance meeting some years ago with a young street vendor in Malawi by Karsten Horne while he was on one of his many overseas travel experiences. Karsten was struck by the amazing spirit of hopefulness in one young man whose life seemed surrounded by despair and misfortune. That young man was Alick, a talented student who was selling his artwork from the roadside in Malawi. At 21 he was one of the few older people you see on the streets of Malawi, with half the population under 15 and an average life expectancy of 34. Alick clearly reflected his country, full of hope, tentatively taking small steps onto the world stage but in need of support and encouragement from those with more experience and the resources to make a difference.
It was with this in mind that Reho Travel chose to support Alick. Not long after he was off the street and studying art at university. After graduating from the University of Malawi with honours, Alick moved to Lilongwe to further his career and work as a teacher at a local high school. He then embarked on a research project into the viability of establishing ‘Rehope’ as a micro-credit institution in Malawi, initially operating in Nkhata-bay.
Rehope’s aim has been to provide small affordable loans to extremely impoverished people in the country’s languishing communities for self-employment projects that will allow them to diversify their income in the hope of bettering their lives.
Since that original seed of an idea and the action taken by Alick supported directly by Karsten and his team at Reho Travel, Rehope Micro-credit Agency is now fully accredited by the Government of Malawi and authorised by the Reserve Bank of Malawi to operate as Microfinance Company. The establishment and administration of Rehope Micro-credit Agency is fully funded out of the profits of Reho Travel. The launch of Rehope Micro-credit Agency drew together senior government officers in Nkhata-Bay, the business community, civil servants, fishermen and so many other interested parties who have a keen interest in seeing this initiative take hold. Each year, two Reho Travel team members are selected to travel to Malawi and spend a week helping out in the Rehope Microcredit Agency office in Nkhata Bay and meet recipients of the loans in the district.
Reho Travel has now expanded its horizons and its reach further through its collaboration and involvement with the Empower Foundation. Empower is an Australian sustainable development organisation that works with rural communities in Malawi and Sri Lanka to action their holistic vision for a sustainable future. Empower develops and manages a network of like-minded partner organisations (both local and international) that collaborate to enable entrepreneurs to build self-reliant communities. Their approach involves a five year partnership with rural communities based on their own inclusive and holistic vision for self-reliance.
The Reho Brand
The Reho Brand is not just the logo, it’s so much more than that. Reho Travel’s by-line, ‘Let our experience add to yours’ should be represented at every level according to Karsten. Reho’s team is experienced in many areas. They are all well travelled, have many years in the travel industry and a rich variety of life experiences, so it is no surprise that the people who work there have an emotional connection to their leader’s desire to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate than themselves living on other sides of the world.
As soon as you walk in the door of the up-beat premises of Reho Travel in the heart of the business district of St Kilda Rd, Melbourne, or in the Sydney CBD, you feel a buzz. It is immediately evident, that here is a culture of people who are fully engaged and on purpose, working in an environment where their values are not just words on a wall, but behaviours in action.
A Culture of Opportunity
Not only has Reho Travel created a culture of opportunity for its staff and its thousands of loyal customers who walk through its doors every year, but also it has now embarked on creating a culture of opportunity for fellow travellers on life’s journey through its direct engagement at a global level within the communities of developing countries.
In the words of Karsten, “Our journey to make a difference does not end with the setting up of the Rehope Micro-credit Agency in Malawi. It is just the beginning. Who knows where the next ten years and beyond will lead us?
But one thing is for sure as we develop our brand offering further, we would like to think that we can find more partners and collaborators from within the ranks of our suppliers and clients and their respective companies who share our beliefs and support initiatives like these to make a difference in very tangible ways.
Maybe the only way forward for our planet and its people will be for commercial enterprises of the future to be driven by purpose-driven profit, where the shareholders of a company are not the only beneficiaries of its market success.”
In our opinion, the story of Reho Travel and its development from being a price driven commodity business; through years of full service offering; and then on to comprehensive travel management and finally now to the realisation of its wider responsibility as a global corporate citizen, is a journey that has been and will be repeated many, many times over by similar businesses as they now undergo a transformation into new levels of engagement with the world and its people. This encompasses a far more inclusive world-view where the term ‘stakeholder’ doesn’t just end with those who are in direct relationship with an organisation but draws its inspiration from the wider community at large both at the local and global level.
Drop me an email at email@example.com if you would like to discuss further how to join our September study tour and create the environment that attracts and retains the young leaders of the future for your organisation.
Until then… Let’s seek to understand more and judge less. Have a great week – Brian
Precision Profiling – What Makes You Tick? Through ‘Motivational Fingerprinting’ we uncover what you do, how you do it and why you do it, and most importantly, the hidden patterns that lead to your success, and that of your team.