Is food one of your main reasons for travel? Then read on as roomsXML’s Mark Luckey continues his conversation with Joe Germano from Trans-International Travel on how to take real foodie trips overseas.

Click here for part one.

“It’s so important to get out there with the locals and mingle, to have real experiences with real people. That’s where the memories come from.”

Leaving gaps and creating randomness is a common theme across the good agencies. It’s like giving kids free time at home without homework or planned activity. It’s where the creativity begins. The gaps can introduce an element of randomness, free time, the ability to explore or to shut off and process. Gone are the days of jam-packed cookie cutter itineraries – this is “the red pill” option.

That red pill or the point of difference option is extremely important for the entrepreneurial travel agent. Maybe less so if you’re working for one of the major brands, but if you are in ATAC independent like Transair, run by the husband-and-wife team of Joe and Cheryl, it’s the difference between working a job and prospering to create something amazing.

But it takes extra effort.

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“I’ve had an interest in the idea of food tours for a while, but I am time poor. I said to my Cheryl that if we don’t do something now, we’re never going to do it. When my granddad lived in Italy he was a winemaker. My dad was a Shepherd – he actually slept in the hills with the goats. My grandfather came to Australia, bought a block in Park orchards, grew his own produce, made his own wine. I stomped on the grapes. He made his own prosciutto. We love food. We have the opportunities that they didn’t to do something different,” Joe explained.

“I love India, I love Indian food, I’ve been some great food in Australia but I want authentic and I want to drive that opportunity as part of the business.”

But the innovation doesn’t stop with the hard work of creating a unique itinerary, but by going step further and involving Project Karma? Joe’s approach is similar to an we’ve taken at roomsXML – that positive advocacy, giving something back where you can, and being creative about it, is a good thing.

Instead of buying advertising space, Joe is offering a finders fee to Project Karma for every lead they generate. It’s a generous donation which will really help support the cause and in doing so, the goodwill will support the industry.

Image: Lan Pham/Unsplash

Image: Lan Pham/Unsplash

“In Cambodia you are constantly reminded how lucky you are. We visited schools and we have the opportunity to give gifts to the kids including books, pencils and they are so grateful when they receive it. But in Australia kids want a PlayStation. Over there and a book and a pencil makes them happy,” he added.

“So I saw you guys were doing with Project Karma, is something that you are doing to help children. Our kids over here are so lucky it’s nice to do something and get something back.

“I see it is rather than a traditional marketing expense, this is the opportunity to take that same money and directly benefit someone. At the same time it’s a nice exercise, it gives us some good exposure, it gives project Karma some good exposure and we can help each other out.”

It’s a beautiful thing from a beautiful company

But Joe has one more trick left up his sleeve:

Every tour needs a tour guide. This is where Joe’s infectious enthusiasm and authenticity has landed him some fantastic tour guides with an astounding back story.

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Introducing Valerie and Courtney from My Kitchen Rules, mother and daughter duo who represented QLD with their Anglo Indian heritage food. Valerie was born in Delhi India to parents who were also born and bred in Delhi India.  The traditions of India continued in Australia with Courtney taking to the kitchen like a duck takes to water.

Valerie and Courtney soared through the MKR competition receiving 10 out of 10’s from the judges who referred to the duo’s food as a “masterclass in spice”.

These spice queens can’t wait to be part of the Food Tour through India.  They are looking forward to fun, lots of laughs and  immersing themselves in all things food – it’s going to be  a magical experience.

“It’s a great opportunity to do so commercially viable, create some great opportunities, some great memories and deliver something back to something like Project Karma. We know you, we know the industry and all we’re doing is bringing it together.”

What do you think of Joe’s initiative?