Wellness Travel Specialist and Entrepreneur, Paul Joseph, is the co-founder of Health and Fitness Travel, a global leader in wellness holidays worldwide. Always ahead of the curve in pioneering new health programmes that revive the soul, boost fitness or address serious health issues, the worldwide wellness tourism industry has now become a multi-billion sector, growing faster than travel in general. Paul has a wealth of PR, Marketing, Sales and Management experience in the health and tourism industry, consulting leading hotels on their wellness strategy and contributing regularly to broadcast and media interviews.
Paul, I love the idea of Health and Fitness Travel. Tell us about yourself and why you decided to pursue this idea.
Travel and wellness has always had a big influence on my life which started with my mother taking me on spa & well-being trips and experiencing travel at a young age, thanks to her job at the time. Following a car accident at aged 20 which left me with multiple injuries, I took to alternative methods to heal my body where my love of yoga started.
I grew up a dreamer and the dream of creating a wellness hub providing a personalised service that recognised what the true meaning of a wellness holiday is became my motivation and a reality. I had a nagging feeling for years of being in a career that neither inspired nor rewarded me sufficiently. One evening I opened my computer and began to write a plan for the travel company I had dreamt of creating for years; enabling me to realise two of my most important dreams: to work for myself and to enjoy my passion: travel and wellness.
At the time it was easy to book a spa holiday, but not a wellness holiday. There was not a travel company which created bespoke wellness holidays for both men and women, it was important I created something which I knew would grow as more people continue to live a healthy lifestyle. My business partner and I worked obsessively for years, six years on we have an international business sending thousands of clients away each year to focus on their health and fitness around the world.
Do you think our current obsession with health and fitness is a trend or do you think it’s here to stay?
The health and fitness industry is changing faster now than ever before and our current obsession with all things natural and healthy is here to stay - wellness is no longer a trend anymore. With holiday time more valuable, our clients desire wellness retreats to help them return home healthier, address illness, make lifestyle changes and focus on personal wellness goals such as preventative ageing, fitness or weight management.
How did you take Health and Fitness Travel from an idea to an actual business?
With £20,000 in savings and a strategic plan, my business partner and I set the company up from our homes. Neither of us had family responsibilities and were both at the age where we could take a gamble. We made important decisions on how much of our profit we wanted to reinvest, managing our cash flow carefully and investing smaller amounts in things which generated a return for our business.
What obstacles have you encountered along the way and how did you overcome them?
At the start cash flow was an issue, not having enough skilled staff and systems available to help effectively manage core areas of the business. I’ve made mistakes on my journey to success but this has also been part of my teaching strategy to develop skills as a business owner. Working for yourself can be challenging at times, especially when I do so many different roles within the business but my passion makes it all worthwhile.
You started off back in 2010 and over the last 2 years alone, business has grown by 50%. How did you manage to grow your business in such a niche market?
We have worked very hard with a strategic plan, we defined a niche market for our business at the start and our specialism has always been at the heart of growing our customer base, developing our product and building a strong brand that our core audience can connect with. Rather than sell holidays to clients, we are seen as a trusted advisor and expert resource who understands our customer needs.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs who might be struggling to take off?
Always work in an industry you’re passionate about. Build a great team, believe in your ability and inspire others to follow you. Listen to people around you and make notes, it’s amazing what you can learn from others. Life’s a journey, be prepared to make mistakes but learn from them. It can be difficult to know where to invest your money when you are starting a business, so focus on what will give you the best return on your investment. Being successful doesn’t happen straight away so be mindful of this and expect you will have bad days. Always keep your passion for what you do and believe in your ideas, as this will keep you focussed to work relentlessly.
I’m sure as part of your business you travel a lot, how do you maintain your health and fitness when travelling for business?
Before my trip, I research where I’m staying and the nearby fitness facilitates, packing my workout essentials, yoga mat and using my fitness and meditation apps. If time permits and I’m near a beach or the mountains, I’ll go hiking, swimming or surfing.
What’s your favourite destination?
I am a creature of habit and every year return to the Caribbean and Italy which I love. Owning a travel company means I constantly have new countries to visit. We created a new product range called Discover Recover™ holidays that allow you to tailor-make your wellness adventure from a choice of tours and excursions, so I will be visiting some of the destinations we have introduced including Costa Rica, Bali and New Zealand.
Apart from travel, how do you switch off and relax?
Regular yoga and meditation aids with my relaxation. I also do high intensity workouts such as boxing which helps me pound out that stressful energy and directing my mental focus away from work. I also take regular wellness breaks to unplug and make sure Sundays are regular technology free days
What are your top 3 recommendations for business and leisure combined?
An emerging trend we see with more of our clients is combing business and leisure travel. If you have meetings in Bangkok, take a short journey to a nearby island for a wellness retreat. Combine a fitness or spa holiday in the Caribbean with business in New York or Miami. Explore the destination you are in with a few days of excursions, with nearby areas for hiking and outdoor adventure activities.
What plans do you have for expansion?
We will be continuing to grow our team, develop our product and global expansion into other key markets.
Click here to find out more about Health and Fitness Travel or call 0203 397 8891