Paul Byrne is the co-founder of award winning online adventure travel business One Stop Adventures. Based in Melbourne, Paul and his partner Marie worked closely with OM4 to establish their online business. In this interview Paul talks about his experience starting and running the business.
Can you explain what One Stop Adventures does?
One Stop Adventures is a booking service for youth adventure travel. Our customers are mainly backpackers.
How did you start your business?
I worked at a backpacker’s hostel for a long time. I had the opportunity to lease a site inside a big backpackers hostel of 480 beds. My business started out as a tour retail business. I always had in my mind that I wanted to go online with it. I needed to find an avenue to do that and that’s how I got on to OM4. We had a look around at a few different options and decided to get them to help launch our business online.
No one else was doing what I planned to do, so I had to get the right website created.
What was that process like?
It took us a while to work out what function and feel we were after. We needed help to map the different categories. We also needed to work out the sort of things our backpacker customers would want. For example, many young overseas visitors aren’t that familiar with the names of the different States. Places like Queensland, Victoria, South Australia, Northern Territory don’t mean much, they’ve probably have never heard of them. So we make it easy to book trips from places that our visitors relate to.
What were some of your biggest challenges?
You’ve got to make it super simple for your visitors, otherwise they won’t stay on your website. We have found that the simpler you make it for the customer, the more likely it is that you’re going to get bookings. There’s a lot of thought and work that goes into creating that ease of use. You’ve got to follow your customers’ logic and priorities. OM4 gave us a lot of good advice about that.
Were there other benefits of working with OM4?
You can have something in your head, but to actually get it onto the screen and make it functional is quite a process. OM4 helped us so we could design the online business processes in parallel with the look of the website. We continue to build on it and update the site all the time. From time to time we reassess what we are doing and how to make it even simpler. There’s always room for improvement.
What were the things that you most valued from OM4?
Having the support there when we need it. We do a lot of work inhouse – it can be a bit trial and error. You can put stuff up and then see it isn’t working. OM4 have worked with a lot of clients and they help us problem solve. If we can’t get things the way we want they can give us options. Do you want this? Or do you want that? And then, do you think this will work for you? Won’t work for you? That sort of thing.
I feel supported by the whole team, they all try to get the best for us. They all know us and we know them. We do a lot for ourselves but when we need extra support its all there. Everyone’s got their own strengths in the OM4 crew, which is really cool.
Do they educate you as well as support you?
Yes, definitely. We’re constantly learning from them, particularly about search engine optimisation. The education sessions have been awesome for us, it’s good to get inside knowledge on how you’re going to approach certain articles or blog posts and all that sort of thing. We’ve learnt a lot about how to structure our content and how to research topics to focus on, right down to how to putting it all together with the specific content we have in our site so it all works well with search engines.
You felt empowered by that?
Definitely. It is hard for people in our sector to invest in this area and it means we are getting an advantage. It’s easy to waste time and effort if you don’t know what you’re doing. We feel a lot more confident because we understand what we’re doing and why. We are far more motivated because it all makes sense.
What other areas have OM4 helped you with?
Payment gateways. That was a complex area. OM4 helped us understand our options and it has all worked out really well.
Would you recommend OM4?
I would definitely recommend OM4 – and I’ve already done so. They offer a cost effective way to build an online business. They are a trustworthy business and don’t try to sell you things you don’t need.
They have experience dealing with all sorts of software and we’ve benefitted from their experience. Considering the quality of what’s on offer, the value for money is great.