Dan Austin here of Austin-Lehman Adventures.
As we enter a new year, I find it rewarding to pause and be thankful of all the good things in life. And since Austin-Lehman Adventures is so much a part of my life I’d like to share some positive news and a few of the great things that have been happening lately.
I just learned that National Geographic Adventure magazine plans to recognize Austin-Lehman Adventures as one of 2009’s “Best Outfitters in the World.” Details will appear in the February 2009 issue. My partner Paul and I couldn’t be more humbled and thrilled at this recognition.
We’re particularly pleased knowing that hundreds of companies vie for this lofty distinction with only a handful making the final cut. We’ve always prided ourselves on offering great value and over-the-top service and in today’s economy; this counts for a lot when folks are figuring out where to spend their hard-earned vacation budgets.
Looking ahead to the 2009 season, inquiries and advance bookings are up significantly — about 10 percent over last year. And the strengthening dollar in Canada and Europe is adding value to our programs that focus on Western Canada and our newly launched cycling tours in Europe.
We’ve also spent the past several months pioneering a social networking website exclusively for our alumni travelers. It’s part of our newly enhanced Adventurer’s Club for alumni. Folks are eligible to join if they’ve taken at least one trip with us. They can participate in the club forum, exchange ideas, questions and recommendations from other ALA travelers, receive The Compass e-newsletter, retain the services of a personal concierge, get priority sign-up on new trips, and much more.
We have our past guests to thank for a growing referral business. To help keep up with the demand and insure our high standard of customer service, we’ve brought on board Mark Francis as Director of Sales. Mark has the frontline experience and confidence that come with over 25 years of working in sales and living on every continent (except Antarctica). Plus he’s a Grandpa who just loves sharing his passion for the Montana outdoors with his 3-year old grandson. He fits right in with the ALA family.
Late September we announced the addition of Euro-Bike & Walking Tours to the ALA family. The transition has gone smoothly thanks in part to EBT veterans Ron van Dijk, our Europe-based expert of 34 years and director of operations, and seasoned trip consultant Kathy Guyer, who joined our sales staff in Billings. If you are looking for the real inside story on European cycling these two make the perfect resource.
Yes, we are very optimistic about next year and already seeing positive signs and growth ahead. Our new 2009 104-page catalog is hot off the press and we think you’ll view it as our best effort to date! Give us a call or send me an email and I’ll be sure to get one in your hands asap. And be sure to check out our new online Media Center for the latest press releases, founder bios, company FAQ’s, story ideas, company history and photo galleries.
Above all, be sure to join me in counting our blessings in the new year. Best wishes from our home to yours a great 2009!