The travel industry is often singled out as one of the first to be impacted by digital disruption, but that hasn’t stopped enterprising businesses like Forward Travel from finding their niche.

The success of the business, founded by partners Rose Toohey and David Smyth in 2013, is testament to the fact that there is a growing segment of the travel market looking for niche “tailor made journeys along the road less travelled”.  They are looking for something that goes above and beyond the usual set-and-forget travel experience.

Knowing their individual strengths, and solid planning and analysis allowed Rose and David to make the step from employees of another company to first- time business owners.   While they had conducted a fair bit of analysis and developed a comprehensive budget and business plan, they decided to attend a Realise Business workshop for some re-assurance that they were on the right track.

The partners have subsequently worked with Business Advisor Geoff Silk through one-to-one business coaching for several years.  Rose believes that Geoff’s insight has been invaluable in helping them with more advice, planning and providing accountability in their business.

As unusual as it might sound, one of the first things you notice about Forward Travel is their penchant for all things cooking.  From Rose’s description of herself as the ‘head chef’ of the business to David’s role as ‘Maître D’ focusing on operations.  Their travel brochures are also written with journeys set out like recipe ingredients inviting clients to work with them to mix and match those ingredients to create the perfect travel experience.

Rose believes it’s the company’s attention to detail that is building their expanding customer base explaining “we don’t do flop and drop to Bali, we do highly planned and informed travel to destinations that we personally know so we can give first-hand advice”.

The company offers travel to destinations like Antarctica, the Arctic, Canada, India and the Himalayas and South America. Rose says that their style of travel “appeals to the well-travelled over 50’s market looking for something outside of the usual group travel options”.  Hotels are personally chosen and their close relationship with local operators builds surety and consistency into their product offering.

Rose with a group of Forward Travellers in Ecuador, Nov 2016

Their customer relationship skills are top notch with travellers operating like Forward Travel brand ambassadors, often sending text message raving about elements of their holiday while they are still on the road.  Travel nights are organised where clients come back into the Forward Travel office to share stories and insights about their travel adventures with like-minded travellers over drinks and nibbles.

You can tell Rose Toohey has travelling in her blood, from her first trip with a one-way ticket to London many year ago to her upcoming personally guided August tour of the Arctic which oversold in a 3-week period.   The company’s belief that “you start your journey as a traveller and we welcome you home as a friend” is a true reflection of their passion to provide the best customer experience possible and to share their love of the amazing beauty and diversity that our world has to offer.

Rose believes that focusing on the following points allows her to concentrate on the growth of the business:

  • If you go into business with someone else, keep your eye on the big picture and maintain the trust.
  • Talk to people outside of the business who can provide advice and guidance.
  • Outsource where necessary and keep to your sweet spot; this will give you time to work on your business.
  • Say things out loud to another person and don’t dwell on issues.
  • Before engaging a consultant get a basic understanding of the topic, for example attend a seminar on social media because it will help you ask the right questions.

To find out more about Forward Travel and their amazing journeys go to