Stantons’ world is their market
IT’S been a journey for Bob Stanton, from the professional international golf tour years ago, to a bespoke tour operator sending other people on journeys.
Mr Stanton and wife Lucy, who settled in Port Douglas in 2011, are a lesson in two elements of modern business practice – how to leverage off your own contact book, and how, with the internet, the world is your oyster and you can work from just about anywhere.
The Stantons run two main businesses, both specialising in luxury, customised tours.
Mr Stanton has been sending up to 300 people a year up to Northern Australia on high end fishing tours, in which small groups of corporate or private clients go for guided fishing forays to remote places, staying in quality lodges and camps.
Mrs Stanton does likewise, but for her it’s about her love and knowledge of Africa, which began as a private passion but which she now packages to offer clients luxury safari trips.
In both businesses the Stantons have tended to use lists of individuals and corporations which grew out of Mr Stanton’s world.
Once he was finished with the pro tour, Mr Stanton ran several businesses which stemmed from his golfing career.
Bob Stanton Golf, running event management and golf days, which he launched in 1986, had a client list that included Qantas, Lexus, Nestle and Windscreens O’Brien.
“That was a good business and it started to generate other opportunities,” Mr Stanton professional golfing said. He bought an 80 ft boat and brought a lot of his corporate clients onboard as share owners – one of the early instances of timeshare.
He had that boat for 20 years and sometimes it ran out of Cairns.
“From that we moved into golf course design and construction,” Mr Stanton said.
“We had a lot of fun with that.”
In later years he developed the fishing business which he still has today.
“When we got out of the golf business,” Mr Stanton said, “Lucy needed something to do, so we developed African Adventures(www.lucystanton.com.au) in 2011.
“It’s starting to get a lot of traction, sending FIT people (free independent travellers) to Africa. We also do specialised accompanied tours – to the gorillas, the animal migration, and a very popular golf and safari trip. Small groups, manageable, lots of fun.”
African Adventures has linked with a leading luxury safarai operator, &Beyond, which has high end lodges and hotels in Africa.
“We’ve got this very professional company behind us over there, of which Lucy is an agent. She builds these packages with &Beyond and Ponant to ensure the continuity of the trip and good value and all those sorts of things,” Bob Stanton said.
Ponant is a French luxury expedition cruise operator, now run by Sarina Bratton, who used to run the well known Orion cruise line in Australia.
The Stantons mostly use their network of contacts as a source of clients. “It’s a very personalised business,” said Lucy Stanton. “Our database from Bob’s businesses means it works mostly from referrals.
“I love the fact that everyone comes back and says it’s the best holiday they’ve ever hard, and these are people who have travelled the world. That’s the buzz for me.”
Bob and Lucy Stanton in Africa. Right — one of the luxury safari lodges in their network