2012 is on pace to be the most monumental year in Austin-Lehman history! There is just so much happening that I decided to give you some bullet points right away before my PR team has the chance to run with it.
- We are still tingling from the news we received just last Friday. Once again, Austin-Lehman Adventures was voted one of the Best Tour Companies in the World by the readers of Travel + Leisure magazine! We are honored to have been chosen #2, runner up to our Trusted Adventures alliance partner ROW Adventures. That’s four consecutive years of being named a top three finalist.
- We are excited to officially announce that on August 1st Austin-Lehman will acquire Go South Adventures, a leader in Latin American adventure travel for over a decade. Owner Troy Glennon will join our R&D and sales team as our expert on Central and South America travel.
- Namibia / Montana “Tomorrow’s Tourism Exchange” - In September in conjunction with the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) and Tourism Namibia, we’re hosting a delegation of WWF and Namibia land conservancy leaders and partners (including from the Himba and Herrera tribes) on a "No Borders Tour" of Montana and Yellowstone National Park. Delegates will meet with property owners and managers to explore how they share these wide open spaces and incorporate activities like biking, rafting and horseback riding. In turn, our guests will share the Conservancy model and how it works in Namibia and how it might work on our native reservations, meeting with Crow and Cheyenne tribal leaders and government officials. The tour will wrap up in Bozeman with an American football game (my son Andy plays on the Montana State Bobcat football team).
- Business is booming! On the last week of June we set a record for the total number of staff and guests in the field at the same time. Four dozen ALA guides and several hundred guests experienced 24 global adventures from Alaska to Utah on the domestic front, Provence to Austria in Europe, Costa Rica to Patagonia in Latin America and Morocco to Cape Town in Africa! Once again, U.S. National Park adventures led all trips in total guests participating.
- To help us succeed in our quest for increased client diversity, the Tampa, FL-based Outings & Adventures serving the LGBT community has named ALA their preferred adventure travel partner and supplier to serve a membership of 15,000 throughout west and central Florida. The first adventure will be biking, paddling and hiking in the California Wine Country. In 2013 they are planning adventures that will include including rafting, biking and zip lining in Costa Rica and hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
- We continue to “pay it forward” with a third shipment of donated bikes set to depart Billings in September to restock Wheels of Change’s Bicycle Empowerment Center in Namibia. Again this year a $100 per guest donation on all 2012 Arches to Moab Multisport Adventures will go to benefit Canyonlands National Park and the Canyonlands Natural History Association as part of our 3rd-annual Preserve a Park initiative. In 2013, Crater Lake National Park has been chosen to be the beneficiary.
- We have finalized negotiations and ALA will become the official adventure travel partner of Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS). Clients of both companies will benefit from the alliance as EMS will refer customers to ALA for their active adventure tour needs and Austin-Lehman Adventures will in turn direct tour participants to EMS for fulfillment of apparel and equipment needs. Watch for a press release soon on this mutually beneficial arrangement.
- You are the first to know! A sneak peak at 2013 reveals new expedition cruising in the Antarctic being added to ALA’s growing small ship cruising portfolio; a new wellness spa and retreat package in Utah; cycling trips in new destinations such as Scotland, Ireland, and Arizona; expansion of our Africa programs (both pre-set departures and customs) in Namibia and Botswana through a new partnership with Wilderness Safaris; the creation of new multisport adventures at Crater Lake National Park in Oregon and in Nicaragua and Turkey; and an expansion of set departures and exclusive private group people-to-people programs in Cuba.