At our old Devonshire Road office
in the late 80s
One of our first brochures
Outside our current office
on Heathfield Terrace
Thirty six years ago, when Brian Williams and I first met as teachers at the British School in Rio de Janeiro, we could never have imagined where it might lead. During our stint there, we both travelled, separately, all over South and Central America. In the 1970s, only a few hardy backpackers got as far afield as Latin America.
When we met again a few years later, we hit on a ground-breaking plan. How could we make use of our unusual combined skills – a comprehensive command of the vernacular in both Spanish and Portuguese, an anorak’s knowledge of transport routes across a largely unvisited continent, and the teacher’s penchant for waxing lyrical on our specialist subject...
Of course. A travel company specialising in escorted holidays in Latin America. We’d lead the journeys ourselves.
A complete absence of experience in the travel (or airline) business seemed, to these bushy-tailed tyros, no barrier to the future success of the enterprise. Brian set up Journey Latin America in 1980, and I joined him in 1982. When Britain went to war with Argentina two months later, any normal entrepreneur would have called it a day…
We refunded in full all the people who’d booked on the trip due to cross Argentina (all but one came back with us later) and hoped things would improve...
That two-man, two-telephone, one-desk operation has grown over the years to what Journey Latin America is today: a turnover of £16 million, 60 staff and some 20 tour leaders on the ground: a long-established and dedicated team who share the same ethos - of being the most knowledgeable people on earth about travel in and to Latin America, and passionate about it too. We couldn’t have done it without them.
Over the years, the infrastructure in Latin America has improved dramatically (rarely now, even on public buses, do you sit next to a chicken) and hotels are as good as in Europe. But our motivation hasn’t changed: experience, knowledge and passion are what we’re about.
In a world where everyone’s a specialist in everything, we still just do Latin America. In 2010, the company is still completely independent, and both of us work full time. Our Managing Director, Sarah Bradley, first joined us in 1988 as a tour leader straight from university. She thinks just like us. Only better.