Yewwwwww – We are RatPack Travel, a small BackPacker owned and operated travel platform with our base in Byron Bay, Australia. We’re breaking every rule of the traditional travel agencies…. We’re not the biggest, but lots of BackPacker’s consider us the be the best.
First off where does the name RatPack come from?
Working in Australia selling trips to BackPackers with one of the big chain high street travel companies started to hurt my love for travel >>> no morals, no ethics & poor customer service was a toxic mix. Original plan was to set up a website for first time BackPackers with money saving tips and advice on how to avoid the ‘classic’ travel shop tricks. Then came my lightbulb moment … why just moan and limit myself to ‘ratting out’ the industry with an information website? Why not change the game and create a much better and more personalised experience for BackPackers to book trips & transport? That’s how RatPack Travel was born. When you are part of The RatPack it’s all about receiving honest & transparent advice from someone who has actually been there and done it.
We heard you had an interesting office. Where exactly is it?
When I first set up RatPack almost 2 years ago we rented a small office space that was attached to a hostel in Byron Bay… it suited the brand perfectly it was right by the beach and it was away from the hustle of the high street.
Early this year the independently owned hostel was sold to a chain organisation with it an already established high street brand moved into the space as part of the deal. At first – I was like OH Sh*t… but I’m a firm believer in everything for a reason.
In true RatPack style I thought, why not step completely outside the box… I sourced a run down 1973 bus – with the amazing help of close friends and family (who were visiting from the UK) we completed the renovation in just under 3 months. The bus is now our rolling, mobile HQ.
We’ve stayed innovative behind the scenes, after launching our brand new site a month ago… by moving online we’ve managed to reduce our overheads – thats the reason we can give such EPIC discounts compared to the competition.
It’s no secret that people are moving towards booking tours direct / online, why do think this is?
When I first started working in the industry (5 years ago) it was common for BackPackers to travel without the latest iPhone, now it’s unheard of. Previously BackPackers had to rely on the high street agencies.
It amazes me that despite every BackPacker having access to the internet some still arrive in Australia having not researched the trip that is best suited for them. Even if they know where they are going if they have no knowledge about the specific tours and prices, then they become easy prey for unscrupulous travel shops.
Try wandering down any busy high street in Cairns, Sydney or Byron Bay … then count how many times you are repeatedly hit up by sales people from the shops. They are hassling you (sorry – engaging with you!) for one reason – to get you inside the shop, sit you down and sell you the tour that makes the most money and commission for them. Working in this environment taught me how not to run an ethical BackPacker business.
The result – many dissatisfied BackPackers who, even when they get to go to the right place, often have their experience diminished by realising they have been sold a second rate trip or not even been told about the trip that would have been best suited for them.
Here are just a few reviews from travellers who have had their experience ruined
‘If I could give them no stars I would’ ‘Worst Customer Service – Do Not Use!!’
‘Manipulating people in Cairns’ ‘Worst tour booking. Highly troubled and disappointed.’
‘Useless. Multiple hidden costs and a lot of trips not as described’
So What’s the benefit of booking with an agency:
When someone has no clue about where to start, no idea of how to get from A – B & is NERVOUS as hell about stepping on that plane on a solo mission, then that’s when an agency is potentially great. You need advice but the benefit is only there if the advice is honest and suited to your needs not those of the agency. It is fantastic when a good agent can pass on their personal experience and knowledge to help the next generation of BackPackers.
Fancy naming and shaming any operators travellers should be aware of?
No need to ‘Name & Shame’ but try this one for size… When you arrive in Sydney or Cairns, walk down the high street and see how many travel shops have sellers outside targeting BackPackers to sell them tours. Now, have you ever been stopped by a street seller offering you ‘Insurance’ or ‘a ticket to win $1000’… what is your usual reaction?
Well here it should be no different. If a company relies on a hard direct sales approach then it’s not the consumer who is ultimately put first, it is the sale. It’s manipulated by the salesperson and you will typically only be offered the trips that pay the most commission rather than the tour which is best suited to you.
I’ll let you into another little secret – there are 3 main travel shops in Oz. However – In any one town there maybe 9 or 10 different shops, meaning they brand the shops differently even though it’s the same company / owner. So if you “shop around” you may not actually be comparing competitors. The same sales person may be in one shop one day and in the other shop with a different name the next.
What does RatPack Travel do differently?
First – we only ever give advice on the trips which have a 5* reputation. Once you are happy we then discount it, which actually makes it cheaper than booking direct!
Second – personalised service – we don’t just say this we mean it. We are not just an online company. You can come in and speak to us face to face, last year we moved out of our office and we renovated an old 1973 Bus which we use as our mobile HQ – Check out the banter bus story on our website.
We don’t just rely on email we offer our personal FB details to every RatPack customer, we also use WhatsApp to make it easy for our customers to keep in touch. Inevitably when travelling things can sometimes go wrong – the weather, an injury or illness … RatPackers have peace of mind knowing they can get in touch with us instantly. For me as a business owner, I know we have our travellers’ backs and if something goes wrong we are there to help.
Third – its not just about helping RatPackers with their epic trips. Having done it ourselves, we know how important it is to be able to get accurate advice about all other aspects of Backpacking in Oz & NZ. We offer all our advice for FREE so don’t be afraid to just hit us up or access our Free Money Saving Pack on our website. We can help with visa Q’s, banking advice, tax file info, work – the list goes on. TRY US!
So why start a travel agency when trends are moving?
Trends are moving and we are moving them! When I travelled Oz on my #ratpackroadie ; ) I racked up 25,913 Km’s by car. I did this for my love of travel… I run RatPack exactly the same! Keeping that personalised approach with customers is amazing! We make sure that it is no cheaper to book direct so RatPackers get the best price and the best trips. There is a reason we get more 5* reviews that any other agency…
Australia is still way up there on the working holiday travellers bucket list. Give us 5 reasons why you think it’s got to be done?
- Internal Flights are MEGA cheap, so once you’ve travelled & then started working it’s super easy to have weekends away- It’s not uncommon to receive $20 – $25 an hour for a casual job in a bar or supermarket. More funds = more travel yewwwwwwwww- HOT, HOT, HOT > being a Brit (who now lives in Byron Bay) it would be rude not to mention the weather! – The people, working to live & not living to work is certainly the Aussie motto.- Beaches. Fun Fact: 85 per cent of Australians live within 50 kilometres of the coast…nowhere has better beaches than Australia – with so many and roughly three times fewer people than the UK, you can find you own special place. If you are a beach lover BOOK YOUR FLIGHT