Travel & Living

#Interview : Will Jones, owner of Journeys by Design. Elevating Travel experience across the African Continent

Will Jones

1. Tell us more about JBD?
Journeys by Design is an Africa specialist. Since its inception in 1999 we have focused on the continent of Africa only and like to think we are one of the global leaders in terms of specialist African knowledge and experiences. We design between 50-100 private safaris a year. All bespoke.
2. As a company, apart from Cottar's which other clients do you manage ?
We have a portfolio of about 100 different camps and lodges in 23 countries across the continent that we partner with, for example Cottars. We do not have any direct financial interests in any camp or lodge on the ground which allows us to be completely independent.
3. Which is the biggest travel market for JBD and why ?
Our main market is the USA primarily due to the way that our Americans like to travel. They have higher budgets for travel, they have less holiday so they prioritise the one annual holiday spend and they refer good business.
4. How is the GCC market shaping up for JBD ? 
The GCC market has been a slow burn for us primarily because we have not paid it the attention it requires. We are a small business so have to prioritise spend and focus. To date this has been Europe and USA. However we are now broadening our horizons since the USA becomes a more diluted market. We have had some very good successes in Saudi Arabia and UAE. We think we are well aligned with GCC motivations and expectations around luxury and associated experiences.
5. Are you looking to participate in road shows,events, trade shows in the Middle East ?
We are writing a new road map for the next stage of our journey. We plan to be more ‘present’ at trade shows. Whilst trade shows are a useful initial route to market the vast majority of our business is repeat or referred direct to consumer. May I ask your opinion as to whether this is an effective route to market? We would appreciate your insights. Note about 10% of our business is through the trade ie via agents. Note we visit clients in their homes to plan the journey in person, and average booking value in excess of US$ 100,000 per booking.
6. What are the expansion plans for JBD ?
JBD believes in organic growth. We are 25 years old and have only 15 staff. We have no current plans to move off the African continent and we are busy exploring more adventurous destinations such as Chad, Gabon and CAR. This forms what we call ‘Rare’. The main focus for growth is in identifying new markets and the GCC is of particular interest here.