Why we started Gap 360
Let me take you back to April 2008. I was Managing Director of Real Gap Experience, aka Real Travel Ltd. We were booming, sending close to 10,000 people a year away on trips to over 40 countries around the world.
Then, TUI Travel purchased the company. At first, little changed, then gradually, bit by bit, the corporate world crept into the Real Gap way of doing things. I had to spend most of my time preparing financial and other reports for my new masters, and not enough time running the present and planning the future for our customers, our staff and our overseas suppliers.
Eventually the parting of the ways came, and in September 2009 came my last day in the Real Gap office.
Freedom! I spent the next 18 months enjoying myself at home in Sussex, catching up with friends, playing golf and generally taking it easy…but after a year and a half I felt it was time to get back to the working world, and my wife Alison was not shy about agreeing with me!!
A fortunate meeting with two former colleagues led to the birth of a new gap organization… Gap 360.
This time we will do it differently we vowed. We looked at some of the big issues that we had experienced before, and found new and better ways of dealing with them. After the TUI experience, we wanted to stay close to the grass roots, by that I mean the customers and the suppliers of overseas services.
Our design team came up with a new mantra:
See stuff, Do stuff, Have fun.
Fair practice, Fair price, Best advice.
This sums up our goals. We want to offer people a wide range of activities and destinations. We will treat our customers fairly (for example no massive price increases and no charges for making simple changes to your booking).
We will deal fairly with our suppliers overseas and will not force them to give us exclusive contracts or squeeze them down in price, and we will give them a stake in their own success by rewarding them with financial benefits for excellent performance.
Our staff will enjoy a good working environment, with fair salaries, excellent training and good future prospects.
The world has changed a lot in the past 3 years. There are surprisingly more organizations in the field now. The economy is way different and jobs for young people, regardless of qualifications, are much harder to obtain. Probably more people are inclined to go off on a gap year trip, but certainly many fewer can afford to.
This means that if people do go off travelling, they will either go for shorter trips, or they’ll try to supplement their travel with paid jobs.
Doing something worthwhile on a gap trip has also become much more important. Universities and Employers still look favourably on people who have spent their gap time teaching, working, doing meaningful volunteering or learning new skills. It is no longer much use just frittering away your time on tropical beaches (although we do recommend that you do a bit of frittering…!).
Doing something that is relevant to your future career is an excellent idea, and Gap 360 is developing a number of useful internships around the globe, some of which are paid.
Gap 360 is still in the early stages of set up, we'll be launching in October 2011, and for the three founders and our initial team in the office it is an exciting time.
We look forward to having our first customers…
David Stitt, Managing Director Gap 360