Being one step ahead of the crowd gets you far in business, as co-founder and director of Together Travel Aaron Evans-Aghoghogbe has proved.
After dropping out of design school, his luck changed when he joined marketing agency 1000heads in 2009 – which saw huge value in harnessing the power of digital media.
“I joined when social media was just starting to be used as a brand tool,” he says. “Our agency’s job was to get people to jump on it and start realising its importance.”
As a marketer, he worked with brands including Adidas, American Express and STA Travel, with a focus on using social traffic to boost visibility.
The birth of Together Travel was sparked from a trip he made to Ibiza in 2010 to get away from work. A year later, he met co-founders Charlie McMullen and Christopher Moon, who were working in London and had also planned a trip to Ibiza with friends. The trio recognised a need for a simpler way to make such bookings and a chance to monetise the idea. “I started to work with them to organise the trips on a bigger scale,” Evans-Aghoghogbe says.
Targeting millennials, Together Travel fuses traditional travel – offering flights and hotels – with organising dynamic, music-focused experiences such as nightclub entry and parties, which they consider a key selling point.
The entrepreneur used his social media skills to help build the firm quickly. “We used the power of Facebook to find customers very cheaply. This was before brands were engaging on it and before Facebook advertising had really taken off.”
Evans-Aghoghogbe continued to work in marketing while planning trips for Together Travel part time. In 2012, at the age of 25, he moved to Australia to work with advertising agencies and do freelance marketing work.
“I wasn’t an avid traveller before Australia, but when I was living out there I realised how much I enjoyed the world of travel,” he says.
Motivated to move into travel full time, Evans-Aghoghogbe left agency life to join Contiki’s digital marketing team in Australia. “It was really useful in increasing my knowledge of the industry,” he explains.
By the end of 2013, he had left Contiki and was working at Together Travel full time.
Travel Together has its own online booking platform that incorporates the facility for groups to pay on an individual basis or share payment with friends.
Evans-Aghoghogbe says there’s an app in the pipeline that will allow clients to view their itinerary, chat with other users and communicate with Together Travel directly to arrange nightclub entertainment.
Asked about the success of one of the UK’s fastest growing travel firms for millennials, he muses: “The key is knowing your market well. The growth we’ve seen is phenomenal. In 2015, we only offered Ibiza. Now we’ve [added] four more destinations – Las Vegas, Majorca, Marbella and Zante.”
While business is flourishing, he admits there have been stumbling blocks. “It’s hard for small start-ups to get ahead – there are so many blockages. You need massive allocations on hotels to make profits, for one thing. We also struggled with getting our Atol, which we’ve now secured by bringing in a partner.”
The challenges have taught Evans-Aghoghogbe a valuable lesson: “Building partnerships and relationships is vital in travel – it’s hard to make it on your own.”
Along with his team, Evans- Aghoghogbe is thinking big. “We’re focused on thinking globally. While 85% of our business comes from the UK, the rest comes from elsewhere – Australia, New Zealand, Brazil and Peru, for example,” he says.
“We hope to continue expanding across different countries and reaching more people through the strength of Facebook.”
It is this global vision that has seen Together Travel build up to a team of 22 people working remotely around the world, from Costa Rica to Kazakhstan. “It’s enabled us to have a hugely talented team, which I’m proud of,” he adds.
Nick Hughes, sales and marketing director, Attraction World – sponsor of Tomorrow’s Travel Leaders – says:
“Evans-Aghoghogbe’s early decision to leave design school awakened his entrepreneurial flair and led him to co-found Together Travel. His early involvement with social media and experience working with global brands ensured a great fit at that time, but also the know-how to grow his business and gain real traction with paying customers.
Once in Australia and moving into The Travel Corporation’s Contiki brand, he really sparked his passion for travel, which allowed him to combine his past experiences with his youth brand idea.
His ‘big-plan’ mentality is admirable and I see no reason why Together Travel cannot build on its early success, go on to much better things and increase in scale in the markets in which it operates.
Overcoming challenges and conquering them highlights his determined persona, and the value he puts on partnerships is the cornerstone of his success.”
Meet all of this year’s Tomorrow’s Travel Leaders at ttgmedia.com/travelleaders