Travel’s return drives leisure business success

Tours are currently offered to Australia, New Zealand, the UK, US and India, with plans to add more markets over the next six months.

The business is also launching a marketplace concept.

Justin Hales, of Camplify

Justin Hales, of Camplify: “We’ve been able to accommodate people… not able to return to their properties after the floods.”

“We already create and curate all our trips. But we’re building a marketplace capability so, if you don’t like one of our trips, you can choose from another 100 trips on our marketplace,” he adds.

Camplify rides ‘van life’ trend

Camplify is another post-COVID travel success story and also one of this year’s AFR Fast starters.

The Airbnb of campervans, people list their RVs, caravans, campervans and similar vehicles on the Camplify site so travelers can pay to borrow them.

Its success has been built on the ‘van life’ trend sweeping the world, which has seen thousands of people live and also work from caravans. This is also a popular social media trend.

This year, it acquired peer-to-peer campervan rental platforms in Germany and New Zealand.

“We want to become the leading RV rental platform globally,” says CEO and founder Justin Hales, who is part of Australia’s caravan royalty. “We’re making sure we have the biggest, most distributed, best available, best price fleet in these markets,”

“Our family’s go-to holiday is caravanning. When I was a kid, all my aunties, uncles, cousins ​​and grandparents would caravan together every holiday. My great grandparents were the first people to drive the entire way around Australia. So it’s in my blood,” he says.

Camplify also has government contracts and has helped provide temporary accommodation to families in flood-affected areas.

“We’ve been able to accommodate people who are sleeping in cars or garden sheds or who were unable to return to their properties after the floods. Because they have secure accommodation, they have been able to start the rebuild process and, at the same time, vehicle owners have been able to earn rental income,” says Hales.

July nobody to carry on

July, which launched in late 2018 and has made this year’s AFR Fast Starters list, has quickly become one of the largest Australian-owned luggage brands.

July founders Athan Didaskalou and Richard Li

July founders Athan Didaskalou and Richard Li: “We sold 10 times more cases than we had predicted thanks to going into the US.”

“Everything our business has done in the past few years has been fast,” says co-founder Richard Li. “We launched with a single product, the July Carry On, and we now have 32 different product types, nine of which we’ve launched in the past year.”

Product development is at the center of July’s operations.

“When we were in development back in 2018, we spent more than half our initial budget developing wheels, because we knew from our research that these were a huge pain point for travelers. Throughout COVID, even when our revenue was down 95 per cent, we were still focused on product development, because having a good product is the core of our business,” says Li.

Global expansion is an important part of July’s strategy and it launched in the US in 2021. It has its sights set on entering the European and UK markets next year, in addition to local expansion plans.

“The US was back traveling so much faster than us here in Australia, as we still dealt with lockdowns and travel restrictions. Pretty quickly, we sold 10 times more cases than we had predicted thanks to going into the US, with that growth only accelerating over the past year,” he adds.

July’s four retail stores play a role in its success, and one in 10 customers will meet either Li or his co-founder Athan Didaskalou when they go into a store.

“Being in store allows us to stay in the loop with our customers. We opened our first Sydney store in September and we are opening a new Melbourne pop-up shop in a couple of weeks.

“Our bricks and mortar stores have been extremely profitable and we plan to open more across Australia and internationally in the future.”

Li says a highlight this year has been a partnership with the Olympics and Commonwealth Games.

“It’s been a huge achievement and honor for our business to provide July cases to Aussie athletes representing our country across the globe,” he adds.

“We’re just four years old, so this partnership felt like a real coming of age.”

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