LESSONS FROM A FATHER FUEL A SON’S SUCCESS
SVEN-OLOF LINDBLAD IS DETERMINED TO TAKE EXPEDITION CRUISING INTO UNKNOWN TERRITORY, RESPONSIBLY AND PROFITABLY.
VietnamWar had been over for years. The US Treasury came down hard on him, freezing his bank accounts and seizing his records. He eventually went out of business in 1987.”
By then Lindblad was already following his own path, having launched Special Expeditions (now Lindblad Expeditions) in 1979, offering journeys designed to be both enriching and profitable.
It wasn’t simply a question of learning from his father’s mistakes, he says. “We wanted to have an influence on issues we cared deeply about, such as the environment. But we knew that if we were a failing enterprise, no one would take any notice.”
Since then, Lindblad Expeditions has grown steadily and now operates a fleet of 10 ships and carries about 18,000 passengers a year. It has won numerous awards for its environmental initiatives. Lindblad even had a newly discovered endemic Galapagos Islands moth named in his honour.
Ever the pragmatist, he claims the company’s efforts to help protect tourismassets such as clean environments and intact cultures are simply sound business practice. “If the Galapagos Islands go to hell in a hand-basket, it’s the end of a business opportunity.”
Given the experiences of his father, Lindblad is also understandably eager for adventure tourism operators to act responsibility so as to avoid the wrath of regulators.
In 2004, Lindblad Expeditions formed a strategic alliance with National Geographic, and by March next year six of its ships will incorporate the iconic brand, including the Orion National Geographic. Last year, the company generated $US3 million in revenue from the Australian market, and with the addition of the 100-passenger Orion it aims to increase that to $US50 million within three years.
Fromnext year, the ship – which has carried more than 3000 passengers since it was launched in 2004 by local cruise entrepreneur Sarina Bratton – will visit more remote destinations across Asia, the Pacific and Antarctica. Additional crew are being added, including naturalists, historians and National Geographic photographers.
Orion is also being equipped with ocean-going kayaks and an underwater remotely operated vehicle