A New Year message from our founder, Andy

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So, here it is, the traditional New Year newsletter from the company founder. Perhaps you’re expecting to read about the exciting travels we’ve taken as a team this year, or the awards we’ve won. Typically, you’d expect me to be hitting key messages around our service, our knowledge, and the fact that we genuinely tailor-make your holiday so it’s perfect just for you. However, we’ve done a lot of reflection on who we are over the last year – and some of you will have been involved in that process, feeding back as part of focus groups (thank you again if you did). Frankly, if I were to tell you about our service, knowledge, and ability to tailor holidays, this would look like a letter from any of the other travel companies we compete with. And I believe that if we didn’t offer these three things, then we’d never have got off the start line as a company.

So, I want to focus instead on what I believe we do differently from everyone else.

What you, our amazing clients, told us this year was that the relationship you have with your HA Destination Manager whilst planning your trip is a key component of the success of the trip, and something that marks us out from the crowd. Trying to understand why this might be, I think we’re like you: we’re interested in the world around us, we’ve got a bit of experience under our belt and can’t wait to add to it, and (if I say so myself) we’re a lovely bunch of people! So, diving in further, I thought I’d let you in on a few things I’ve learned about the team this year.


Happy New Year from our founder Andy

We’re a talented bunch, with three of us having been members of NAGTY as kids (the National Academy of Gifted and Talented Youth); and based on the Christmas songs we all penned for our Christmas party, a few of us could have had alternative careers in the music industry! We have very eclectic tastes in dog names – there’s a Lyra, a Caesar, a Milo, an Indie and a Yogi. We love our sport – there are American football fans and loyal supporters of local rugby clubs, and we also love a range of other pursuits, from flower arranging, to creative writing and learning Japanese. We’re constantly setting and participating in company quizzes, and – as a result – would make an unbeatable pub quiz team! We also care about the world around us – some of the most interesting, engaging and, yes, occasionally heated discussions we’ve had as a team are around ensuring our holidays are meaningful whilst also looking to mitigate our impact on the environment.

Happy New Year from our founder Andy

Something else we do differently here is that the Destination Managers you speak to when planning your holidays are in total control of what they sell and how they sell it. There isn’t a central department or a line manager dictating this to them. They choose the hotels and excursions, they have direct relationships with all our suppliers, and they write all of the website and quote text you read. They’ve been really busy this year coming up with exciting, new, and interesting ways for you to experience our favourite destinations. We’ve pioneered our Go Local suggested itineraries, which are the product of the aforementioned discussions about meaningful travel. We believe it’s meeting local people, in an authentic and unscripted way, is what gives travel a lot of its meaning. And so, these Go Local itineraries (conceived by the wonderful Emma, our Sustainability Lead, and put in place for Morocco, Oman, Costa Rica and Jordan by her, Dawn and Cat) are full of activities that get you meeting the locals behind the invisible barriers that tourism can put up.

Off the back of a wonderful brainstorming session in October, Lou has put together an entirely new excursion in Costa Rica exploring the Caribbean coast of the country, using local guides and including time spent with the indigenous communities.

Happy New Year new Costa Rica excursion


Erin has completely overhauled the Borneo website, including creating the Culture, Caves, and Jungle suggested itinerary. Of course, it includes all the major highlights (not least the famous orangutans!), but you’re also going to dive into the wonderful city of Kuching where Indian and Chinese cultures fuse into something very unique (and with amazing cuisine!) as well as hanging out with Iban tribes in the jungle. They used to be head-hunters, but that is thankfully a thing of the past now! I’m a bit biased because I spent part of my childhood in Sarawak, where much of this itinerary is based, but this is without doubt a holiday I will be enjoying at some point.


Happy New Year Borneo

Like Erin, Dawn is always beyond inspired by her beloved Peru, and has completely refreshed the Peru website. Her favourite new addition is a suggested itinerary which spends time with indigenous tribes at Lake Titicaca, gets you involved in conservation efforts for the condors at Colca Canyon, and of course, includes Machu Picchu. But, it doesn’t include the well-known Pisac market, dropping that in favour of the much more colourful but much less-known Chinchero market.

Happy New Year Peru

I love all of these ideas and innovations. They are a wonderful encapsulation of what we set out to do here at HA: to explore countries in a way that definitely covers the highlights, but also has lots of really thoughtful touches – ways to engage with and understand the local cultures and people. They are also driven completely by the team themselves: Destination Managers who are passionate and fascinated by the countries they are responsible for, and are always striving for the best way to share that passion and fascination with you.


Happy New Year Team photos

So, if you’re talking to Erin about including a Kuching city tour in your Borneo trip, you know that she worked with our local agents to put that tour together, and it’s been her project from start to finish. You now also know that she has a dog called Caesar and is a dab hand at flower arranging, amongst many other talents – you really are in the best of hands! This is true of all the team here, wherever you’re planning to go in 2024, and whoever you work with here at HA to make those plans a reality, you’re going to have a lot of fun during that process, and have the most amazing holiday too.

Wishing you all the best for a fantastic year, we hope we’ll be a part of making it a special one!

Best wishes

Andy Hunt