Customer Spotlight: Experience Co

In this interview, we speak with John O’Sullivan, the CEO of Experience Co, one of Australia and New Zealand’s leading adventure tourism companies. John shares insights into their business model and values, which are centred around providing customers with memorable and safe adventure experiences while respecting the environment.

He also discusses the positive outlook for their business in 2023, highlighting the expansion of their offerings, such as the addition of Taronga Park Zoo to their Treetop Adventure portfolio. John also shares his thoughts on the importance of working with trusted distribution partners like AAGTech’s WebsiteTravel Global Marketplace, which provides them with a broader reach to customers globally.

Q: Tell me about your business? Who are you, Experience Co, and what do you guys do best? 

John O’Sullivan: Experience Co is one of Australia and New Zealand’s leading adventure tourism companies. We operate across 37 locations in both markets, and we operate across five very distinct business units; Tandem Skydiving, Great Barrier Reef Marine, Cruises, Treetop Adventures, Wild Bush Luxury and then Performance Aviation Maintenance Services.  

Our whole model is built around the premise of our values. We provide our customers the experience of adventure, offering those experiences with the greatest respect for not only our customers but also our team members and the environment in which we operate. And very importantly, safety is at the heart of everything we do.  

Q: What is the outlook for your business for this year? Is there anything new we should be keeping an eye out for?    

John O’Sullivan: We are very positive about the outlook for this year. We believe that the international market will continue its rebound from 2022. And certainly, we’re also very excited about the fact that the domestic outlook is also very strong as well from what we’re seeing. In terms of Experience Co, what you can be looking forward to seeing is continued opening up of additional capacity within our tandem skydiving business, in particular more days out of sites like Yarra Valley, but also the reactivation of some sites that haven’t been in operation, such as the Hunter Valley, and also more capacity in our biggest sites such as Wollongong, Melbourne and also up in Byron Bay and also Noosa.  

We’re also very excited about the addition of Taronga Park Zoo to our Treetop Adventure portfolio which will take it to 15 sites across Australia. We’re also very excited about our Great Barrier Reef Experiences business with the continuation of our Reef Magic Pontoon which is the newest pontoon on the Great Barrier Reef and provides a really unique experience focusing on sea country science and sustainability. Within Wild Bush Luxury we’re very excited about the newly expanded Bamaroo Plains wilderness experience in the Northern Territory which will see the addition of a new Pandanus pavilion as well as the new Jabiru suite which is a suite that enables families to experience all of that in their own creature comfort. 

Q: Why were you so quick to come back to load products in and start using the platform again?  

John O’Sullivan: Certainly, for us, we have had a good track record and history with WebsiteTravel. Pre-COVID, you were a key part of our distribution channels, along with others. We were very mindful of repaying that by re-signing with you once you re-established. We were also appreciative of the fact that you did honour your commitments to us through COVID-19, and we were paid back in full. 

So, we were respectful of maintaining that relationship, and we think it’s just been part of the changing dynamic now of distribution as the world opens again, the importance of working with third-party distributors like yourself becomes increasingly essential.

Q: What is one of your favourite features of website travel and why?  

John O’Sullivan:  I think one of our favourite features is just obviously the reach that the platform provides. Why is that? We want to get our experiences in the hands of as many people as we can worldwide.

So, from that perspective, we are very excited about the road ahead, and from that perspective, as I said before, that ability to reach as many consumers as possible now internationally, particularly in that youth cohort, which has been a traditional strong point of WebsiteTravel, is what makes it very exciting for us. 

Q: Can you comment on the importance of our partnership for your business?  

John O’Sullivan: 2023 is all about re-establishing connections with the world. I think a key part of that will be partnerships with trusted distribution partners and being able to re-establish our partnership with WebsiteTravel, under new management and new ownership, is a key part of that.  

We have a very strong direct to consumer business, but we are also very mindful of the fact that we need to work with trade. The fact that you have pivoted now towards a more digital environment is also something that’s interesting for us.