What started as a passion turned into a business dream, then a reality & now a future growth plan for TravelManagers’ Jo Patton, whose Crafty Adventures are growing significantly.
Who’s Jo? And what’s Crafty Adventures? Let’s backtrack.
Jo Patton is a Personal Travel Manager (PTM) who loves two things (in addition to her family and friends) – travel and crafts.
Around a year ago she noticed a shortage of travel options for those passionate about taking their creative ways on the road and launched Crafty Adventures.
Unsure of how successful the niche business idea would be, she put herself out there by announcing a craft-based cruise during which travellers would be able to enjoy ocean life while also take part in craft-focused workshops and demonstrations.
It was a success.
Jo booked 83 people on the cruise and started planning several adventures for 2019, which have attracted over 400 travellers.
It is very early days having started just over a year ago, but it has grown significantly.
While consumers craved Jo’s craft-based trips, the industry recognised her initiative by naming her winner of the 2018 Avis Scholarship, which she hopes will give her further credibility, promote her business and further grow awareness of Crafty Adventures.
Read on for our full chat with Jo:
Congratulations on your scholarship win, what do you think it was about your application & approach to selling travel that distinguished you from the rest of the applicants?
Having a niche market with my Crafty Adventures helped to distinguish me from the other applicants. My application wasn’t a high tech presentation – it was a simple word document, but I’ve been told that my passion for what I’m doing showed through.
When did you first start selling craft-based holidays & how many customers did you start with?
I started my Crafty Adventures business just over a year ago. I have built a community of crafters who also like to travel and had 83 passengers on my initial cruise, which sailed in early October 2018.
I have now sold over 400 passengers on my 2018/19 adventures, and am now planning 2020/21 trips with world-leading designers.
What are some of the challenges you first faced with Crafty Adventures & how did you overcome them?
The biggest challenge has been spreading the word about what we are doing and reaching my target market. I have built the online community through social media, but have also exhibited at some of the biggest craft shows in Australia.
I have shown examples of the kinds of projects people can make on our trips, so people can touch and feel them and get a real feel for the trips. I have also partnered with craft shops and online businesses through our affiliate program.
How has the niche business grown over the years? And what are your long-term plans for Crafty Adventures?
It was very early days having started just over a year ago, but it has grown significantly. My partner now works with me full time also. I would love to offer more international adventures in the future, and one of my goals is to have so many clients that we can fill an entire ship for the Ultimate Crafty Adventure.
I would also love to expand to potentially work with other PTMs so they too can offer Crafty Adventures to their clients.
How do you think winning the Avis Scholarship will benefit your business?
I think the Avis Scholarship will give me great credibility in the industry, and most importantly promote awareness of my business. As a regionally based personal travel manager with a young family, and a growing business, it is difficult for me to attend many industry functions.
I have been overwhelmed by the amount of positive feedback I have received since my win and I look forward to growing these relationships.
What advice would you offer to other retail or home-based advisors hoping to specialise in such a niche area?
Here we go! All ready for the Canberra Craft and Quilt Fair. For those in or near Canberra, come and see us at Exhibition Park. 10am – 4.30pm daily until Sunday. ❤️
My advice would be to find something you are truly passionate about. Your clients can tell if you are doing something you really love and care about, and they want to be involved.
Think outside the box and make connections in the niche area outside of the travel industry (as I have with industry-leading crafters all over the world). Offer something unique, and keep it personal. Really get to know your clients, and take their feedback onboard to improve your products.
Is there any advice you’d give to a consultant hoping to apply for the Avis scholarship in 2019?
I would recommend applying for the 2019 Avis Scholarship. It gave me the opportunity to step back from the day-to-day operations of my business and really think about the bigger picture.
I have already met so many amazing people and will have opportunities to meet many more in the coming year. I have received fantastic support and encouragement from my TravelManagers family, and hope to inspire more PTMs and agents in general to find their niche.
- READ: Find out which Travel Agent won the 2018 Avis Scholarship
- READ: Nakita Byrne talks benefits of the Avis Scholarship
- READ: Michelle Ashcroft says Avis Scholarship fast-tracked her career
Join us in congratulating Jo on her Avis Scholarship win.
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