Challenger to Watch 2019: Flash Pack
For travellers who don't want to go solo
Who wants to go on holiday alone? Erm, no one.
I am - or I was - the person that Flash Pack appealed to. I was a singleton in my early-thirties, so my annual leave was taken up on stag-dos, going to weddings, visiting family abroad or tagging along on couples holidays. Whilst fun, all of these trips made me feel more alone/single than before I took off, and like many my age, having worked solidly for years, I had a yearning to go somewhere far-flung and explore the world for myself.
So what do you do if you love to travel but don’t have anyone to go with?
You start a travel business. Flash Pack founders Radha Vyas and Lee Thompson met in 2012 via an online dating site that matched them based on their shared passion for travel, food and business. On their first date, fuelled by red wine, Vyas shared the seed of her travel business idea to cater for busy professionals like her who wanted to discover the world, go on inspirational holidays but didn’t have anyone to go with. All existing options for solo travellers were either too back-packer-y or appealed to an older generation – there was nothing in between.
Fast-forward to 2019 and Vyas and Thompson are married, and despite not having any experience in running a travel business, they are making a success of running Flash Pack. The company has recently been featured on both Forbes and the BBC, and is now valued at over £10m.
What is Flash Pack? It is group holidays, full of unique experiences, for solo travellers in their 30s and 40s.
It didn’t all start with a honeymoon.
When the business launched in January 2014 with a trip to Sierra Leone, they struggled to get awareness for what they were offering and thus had little traffic to their site. Thompson knew that sometimes the perfect holiday photo can make the whole trip worthwhile, so he used his experience as a photojournalist to capture a shot that would change the company’s fortunes. His ‘Epic selfie with Jesus’ – a selfie of him on top of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro ahead of the FIFA World Cup went viral. When he sent the shot to every news outlet for free, asking for a backlink to his site in return, the site traffic shot up like an Icelandic geyser.
What is Flash Pack’s secret sauce?
The biggest fears for a solo travellers has to be the painful admin and being surrounded by people you wouldn’t want to share a drink with, let alone a week on holiday. Flash Pack knows its audience. Its trips are packed with the sorts of adventures that will make your friends writhe with jealousy and it provides detailed questionnaires to get the group chemistry right. All the testimonials point to the amazing friendships and experiences people have which is surely what being single in your 30s is all about, right?
So what lies ahead?
With more people putting off long-term commitment, focusing on building successful careers and travel being such a strong social currency, I can only see greater demand for Flash Pack’s trips. The big trips are so successful that it is now offering mini-domestic ones here in the UK. Yes, the trips are probably a bit more expensive than organising the whole thing yourself, but for Flash Packers, the experience is priceless.