Bruce Hodge is the owner and President of Goway Travel, what has evolved into one of North America’s largest travel companies to the South Pacific. Founded in 1970 upon Bruce’s arrival in Canada, Goway Travel has offices scattered across the globe and Bruce continues to set the strategic direction and drives the growth of the company. Australian born, Bruce is an avid globetrotter committed to growing the company and increasing the number of Goway travelers from the USA as well as Canada.
Read on to learn more about Bruce Hodge, and the thriving travel company that is Goway Travel.
Travel Research Online (TRO): Was there anything particular about the travel industry that influenced you to want to work within it? Did a vacation destination inspire you? What made you jump from your previous position as a Research Economist to the industry?
Bruce Hodge (BH): Growing up it was always my objective to travel. I did a lot of hitch-hiking but overseas, particularly Europe, was my siren. Enroute to London UK the pound devalued reducing my travel funds, which I had pre-sent, by 30%. Luckily on my first morning I met someone who told me he drove buses around Europe, full of girls and he got paid for it. That is how I got into the travel business – I fell in love with it (and also met my wife).
TRO: You are the Owner and President of Goway Travel, the travel company you founded in 1970. What do your day-to-day responsibilities look like? Is each day different from the last? Are you involved in a little bit of everything? Walk us through your day.
BH: With Goway I saw an opportunity to start my own business with basically no money ($350). Determination and passion to succeed got me here and I happily work 7 days a week (when not travelling). These days I have a lot of management meetings as we are a complicated company, but most days I look to improve our product offerings, love creating new stuff, systems, brochures and webpages. So yes I am involved in a little bit of everything…every day.
TRO: Did your two years of tour directing in Europe and the UK before founding Goway help you in the process of building the company? Was there anything you learned as a tour director that you have carried with you on your journey with Goway?
BH: My over two years in Europe involved tour directing, taking training trips, running sales in the off season and hiring and firing. This on top of my Reserve Bank training gave me the confidence to start my own business. I learned that passengers on our trips had different personalities, interests and funds. They all paid the same amount of money and were entitled to a trip of a lifetime…whether they were “swingers or culture vultures.” I learned all customers are important.
TRO: Goway’s strength is based on a solid structure of diversified products and vertical integration, and has proven successful as Goway has become one of North America’s largest travel companies to the South Pacific. Can you tell us more about the travel options Goway has to offer, and the process of planning a customized trip with Goway?
BH: It takes years to gain the knowledge and experience to be an “expert” in anything. To be the leading wholesaler for customized quality travel experiences to a destination you have to walk the talk. We have been doing it so long (nearly 50 years) our basic strength is the satisfied customers who recommend us and book again.
To be the go-too wholesaler we offer, in essence, everything in our specialized destinations. Everything from consolidated air fares, to cruises, to car rentals, to rail experiences, to Stays of Distinction. Agents ask, we ask and then we custom design.
TRO: With 47 years as President of Goway Travel, I’m sure you have learned a lot along the way. Is there any advice you can give to someone looking to follow in your footsteps and start their own travel company? Or advice for anyone breaking into the travel industry in general?
BH: My son once gave me a book titled “Think Big, Act Small”. Its message was – it is important to have big dreams, but never lose sight of what drives “small” business entrepreneurs. I have seen so many companies fail or wither because they started to believe their own B.S.
For the newbie it helps to have a unique/different/better proposition …. that you truly believe in. Then you have to make the commitment to make it work and work hard through good and bad times.
TRO: Goway has such a varied selection of destinations to choose from, including Africa, Asia, and Europe. Can you give us some insight on the process of deciding where to expand?
BH: The trick is to not dilute your expertise in one area while trying to build it in another. In essence, our South Pacific specialists don’t sell Africa or Latin America. We have many competitors who say they sell the world but travel agents are likely to be dealing with the same reservations agent…and they will say they do groups too. Goway’s Groups Only team only sell groups.
Our expansion has always been slow. A couple of years ago, to avoid laying off good people during the Ebola scare we laid the foundation for Europe. This led to building and growing the infrastructure to offer the second largest amount of travel ideas after Downunder. In two years it will be bigger.
TRO: As Owner and President you probably get to do a lot of travel within the company. Is there a favorite place you have to travel? What about a destination you have always wanted to go to but haven’t made it there yet?
BH: Yes I do travel a reasonable amount these days and I love it. I have no favorite destination as most offer amazing sights and experiences. Last month I travelled across Asia and Russia on the Trans-Siberian Railway. Two years ago I travelled across Africa for 30 days on Goway’s Cape to Cairo luxury adventure. Easter Island is calling.
TRO: What can we expect to see from Goway this upcoming year? Any exciting news you can give us?
BH: In the near future we will be solidifying our position in Europe with a very senior Executive appointment. Similarly we will soon be appointing someone to take over from me, the day to day senior management of Goway. But I am still going to be in the background.