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Disclosure & Image Rights: Image material created by Verlag Best of HR -®. The Dutch tourism company TravelEssence covered our costs for flights, domestic flights and meals for a research trip to New Zealand. 

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Job profile! Sustainable travel entrepreneur: from consultant to social business

Anyone who wants to realize their own ideas as entrepreneurs has a hard time: investors and banks are often hard to convince themselves of when something new is planned. In the end, it is often only possible to break through. Like the founders of TravelEssence.

With the well-paying job at the end of your dream?

At the beginning, Klug had nothing to do with the tourism industry, but studied business administration in Würzburg in a very classic way - "the study for people who don't know what to do," as he admits with a grin.

With a degree in business administration and a well-paid job, many people dream of ending their dreams. Not so Martin Klug: He wanted to do something meaningful and more by accident he founded a travel agencyCompany for sustainable tourism in New Zealand and Australia.

Business consultants for fun traveling around

During his studies he worked as a production assistant at a regional TV station and at Bayrischer Rundfunk. Although he quickly realized that the career prospects in journalism are rather bad, but the travel and life in the hotel brought him to the taste.

Therefore he hired directly after the study in an enterprise consultation. This was in October 2001, shortly after the 11. September.

In the right place at the right time

"150 young consultants were hired back then," reports Klug. "And nobody had anything to do for us, we just sat around." In fact, almost all of them were fired at the end of the probationary period: Klug was one of the few who stayed.

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"I was just lucky to meet the right people in the company at the right time in the right place and thus to be able to work on a large and important project," he reports mischievously.

At the finish of the wishes or in the treadmill?

At that time he thought he was on Objective of his wishes: “I thought that was it now. I was young, earned a lot of money and an interesting job. ”But the first doubts soon arose:“ You just carry out assignments, whether you are behind it or not.

And many older colleagues only worked on the projects like in a treadmill and didn't know how to break out - that scared me, ”reports Klug.

MBA as a new start

He wanted to do something new. And so he said “yes” in 2005 when his company offered him the opportunity to do an MBA. He deliberately swapped the Porsche and the huge apartment in Munich for a student apartment: "I was just worried that I wouldn't be able to go back once I got used to a certain standard of living."

His choice fell on the Dutch Utrecht as a place of study - because he was with his Casting was late and the top business schools were already booked.

Emergency solution as a stroke of luck

The "stopgap" soon turned out to be a stroke of luck: The Franconian not only got to know his future wife here, but also his business partner, New Zealander Andrew Morten (below), at a pub evening.

He was working as a project manager for a tour operator that offered classic bus and motorhome tours as well as luxury accommodations in New Zealand and Australia. And was dissatisfied with his job and the mass tourism off the rack.

The idea: tailor-made projects instead of mass tourism

For in Morten's opinion, tourists have no way to get to know the country and its people. You have to do a lot better with small, flexible projects, Maori, cottages and bed and breakfasts. Klug, who had never been to Australia or New Zealand before, found the idea good.

From then on, Morten was the creative mind of the company and Smart the one who checked the crazy ideas for their feasibility. For example, by questioning why no one had done so far.

Individual travel as a market gap - is it worthwhile?

The solution was found quickly: “For large tour operators, small hotels that only offer two to three rooms are often not worthwhile. And it is simply easier for their booking system to put together standard luxury trips than individual trips with constantly changing components, ”explains the young entrepreneur.

“Small tour operators, on the other hand, are enthusiastic about what they do and also have small providers on offer - but they often work unsystematically and take too long to put together appropriate trips.” The two wanted to find this gap when they founded TravelEssence in 2006.

Tourists from passion

For Klug and his companion Andrew Morten needed a sound database system to implement their idea of ​​promoting small green tourism projects in New Zealand and Australia - and funding for it. And that was the problem!

“We had calculated 100.000 to 200.000 euros per year. But the potential investors just said 'good luck guys' - and we were on our own. The bank loan did not work either: "When it comes to investing in a new idea, Holland is by no means better than Germany," remembers Klug.

So the two screwed down their claims, thought about what they need urgently, invested approximately 15.000 Euro from their savings into a database programming and started.

Customers expected something completely different

It was much more difficult, says Klug, to bridge the early days. "You can't expect quick success - of course we still have, MBA students," he grins self-deprecatingly. The two had to finance the first year completely out of their own pockets, until the idea gradually established itself.

That was also so difficult because potential customers expected something completely different: "The Netherlands is a classic market for motorhome trips - and we had set ourselves in mind that we were not currently offering them," said the travel company, explaining the daring undertaking.

Bed and breakfasts, Maori and afforestation instead of CO2 slingshot

And he gives reasons for the unusual idea: "Because mobile homes are not only a huge CO2 spinner, they also prevent you from getting to know the country and its people, because you are on the road for yourself all the time."

“In the beginning, we almost only received inquiries about motorhome trips because the potential customers knew that. And we had to convince a lot of people that they have the more exciting stories to tell when they are traveling by rental car, staying in small cottages and bed and breakfasts, spending a day with Maori and planting trees in the jungle, ”says the entrepreneur who has also started its own afforestation project in Te Urewera National Park on New Zealand's North Island.

"We do it as we want!"

In the meantime, reports Klug, the two were on the verge of giving up: “We thought nobody wanted what we were offering. In the meantime, out of frustration, we have even started to take motorhome trips sell. "

But over time a certain fatalism would have set in: “We either wanted to do it our way - or not at all. Because how do I want to sell something to someone I am not convinced of myself? ".

TravelEssence Team

Expansion that raises new questions

At some point the customers understood what the entrepreneurs were about - and then it worked, as Klug says. Today TravelEssence has six employees, and in 2010 the company also expanded to Germany.

However, the growth raises new questions: “Developing your own ideas and bringing them forward is great. But of course you also have to take care of things that you might not feel like doing - payroll accounting, for example, ”philopsophies Klug.

The golden middle path to healthy growth

The fear of the treadmill is still to be noted. At the same time, however, he knows that a certain growth is necessary to make small, sustainable tourism projects that would otherwise be lost in mass tourism at all economically viable.

The famous search for the golden mean: “It's about healthy growth, not an obsessive longing for more,” Klug makes the differences clear.

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6 responses to “job profile! Sustainable Travel Entrepreneur: From Consultant to Social Business ”

  1. says:

    Successful as a Social Duckpreneur - Part 2: How to found and organize a sustainable Tourism Un #Business

  2. sunnymoon_hh says:

    Successful as a Social Duckpreneur - Part 2: How to found and organize a sustainable Tourism Un #Business

  3. Holger Froese says:

    Successful as a Social Duckpreneur - Part 2: How to found and organize a sustainable Tourism Un #Business

  4. Liane Wolffgang says:

    Successful as a social entrepreneur - Part 2: How do you found and organize a sustainable tourism company ...

  5. Monika Paitl says:

    Successful as a social entepreneur - part 2: How is a sustainable tourism company founded and organized?

  6. Simone Janson says:

    Successful as a social entepreneur - part 2: How is a sustainable tourism company founded and organized?

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