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Daniel Platt & Dean Hampel • Melbourne
Daniel Platt and Dean Hampel are an enterprising duo whose business runs private, tailored tours of Melbourne and regional Victoria.
The boys are passionate about sharing their insider knowledge, based on stories, people and places slightly off the beaten path.
Daniel says their typical guest is ‘someone who doesn’t like organised tours’.
“To create this type of appeal, we realised pretty quickly that we’d have to spread the word out on the street,” he says.
“We started by getting to know specialty shop owners, concierges at hotels, business owners, barmen and baristas so we knew we had the product and the connections sorted.
“Our goal was to offer something unique, not just a better version of what others were doing.”
With some great help and support, we have created for ourselves the work we want to do and we’re clear about where we want to go.
Daniel and Dean have known each other since they were boys. The idea to start their own business bloomed at a party. After a few years of travel and study, following their own career paths, it hit them they both ‘loved tourism’.
Daniel and Dean are thoughtful and engaged about their business, what it offers today and what it might do tomorrow.
“Our business is all about relationships,” says Daniel. “We want to live and work in our business in an authentic, enjoyable way. It all makes for a better guest experience.”
While Daniel says he loves the day to day operations, he describes Dean as more of a ‘big picture guy’.
“The reason our business works so well is balance.
“We are a great mix and really complement each other. If I’m getting too bogged down in detail, Dean lets me know about it. And if he’s out there, networking and meeting but feeling a bit flat about it, I know how to motivate him.”
As far as the business itself is concerned, both are enjoying running their own show.
“We both like to be in charge. In most small businesses, you can see results every day – it’s very validating.”
Within their first year, the pair was offered some help from the experts to make a splash in the international market.
Tourism Victoria, says Daniel, was ‘unbelievably helpful’.
Within the first year of opening their doors, they participated in an International Mentoring Program through Tourism Victoria. This prepared them for meeting with overseas operators, which is crucial to marketing their business internationally.
The program involved six days of workshops, training, discussions and meetings.
“Tourism and marketing a tourism product, especially internationally, can be quite complex. It gave us a much clearer idea of the traditional structure of distribution within the industry as well as the expectations of different markets,” says Dan.
The experience helped them to organise a presence at the 2016 Australian Tourism Exchange – the largest inbound industry event on the national tourism calendar.
“With some great help and support, we have created for ourselves the work we want to do and we’re clear about where we want to go.
“We’re at the stage now where we are relishing the opportunity to play with the big boys.”
Daniel’s three tips for other small business operators:
▶︎ Mistakes are inevitable. The way you treat them and learn from them is the most important way you can get better at what you do.
▶︎ A lean start-up is all about scaling. Lease what you can or work from home. Grow with experience because you’re only going to get better at what you do.
▶︎ If you try to do the best job for every customer, every time at every opportunity, your work life will be very personally fulfilling and, hopefully, successful.