About 20 years ago, a young medical-student-turned-tour-operator started Buffalo Tours with one goal in mind – to help travellers discover the heart and soul of Southeast Asia. Two decades later, and Buffalo Tours looks a little different from its 3-person, one room office, but there’s a kind of excitement from our CEO that hasn’t changed much since his very first years exploring Asia with Buffalo. And just in time for the new year, we had a chance to sit down with our CEO and talk about what made 2014 one of the most exciting years that Buffalo has ever had!
Q: What, for you, were your favourite Buffalo Tours’ moments this past year of 2014, and why do you think they were significant?
A: 2014 has been a very special year for Buffalo Tours. During the year, we entered into a Joint Venture with Flight Centre (largest Retail Travel Company in the World) to expand Buffalo Tours to the rest of Asia, we celebrated our 20th year anniversary, opened SFO office, launched seaplane services in Vietnam.
In June, while I was cruising down the Mekong River on board our Song Xanh boat. I was on the same level with everyone else on the waters; kids jumping off monkey bridges, mothers washing clothes in the river, numerous trading boats passing by, then came a short shower and as our eyes were tired of all the activities that I saw one of the most beautiful sunsets over the Mekong with lush, endless green orchards and a rainbow behind. I was lost with words and totally emerged with the landscapes and the moment. This reminded me why I had chosen to work in this business.
The second most significant moments for me personally was when I visited our Buffalo Tours Bangkok office on 15 August. Witnessing the office expansion from a tiny room back in 2009 into Thailand’s number one tour operator is mind-blowing. It is significant because on the opening day just five years ago, I saw doubts in the eyes of both suppliers and staffs. It is hard to believe how much that tiny room back then has grown into a successful operation throughout Thailand looking after thousands of happy passengers every month and creating hundreds of jobs.
On 18th December, I was sitting in Oak Meeting Room at a fine boutique hotel in Wimbledon where our UK office is based. There were Chris, CEO of Flight Centre UK, his core team and our Buffalo Tours UK team. We were planning to launch a new series to Asia for 2015. How much things have changed from 2010 when Debs and I were knocking on doors of UK Tour Operators for a meeting!
Q: If you had to describe the year of 2014 for Buffalo Tours in three words, which would you choose?
A: Fast, Fun and Future
Q: What are you most looking forward to in 2015? What events, milestones and expectations do you have for the coming year, and why are they exciting for you personally?
A: 2015 will be an exciting year and I am really looking forward to.
We are opening our Buffalo Tours Singapore Office on 15th January and Bali Office in Indonesia on 6th February. The offices in Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, and Beijing in China will be open in March.
On 3rd February, we will run our daily coach services from Ho Chi Minh city to Can Tho and Chau Doc, making the entire Mekong region accessible for almost all travelers, and not just reserved for extremely adventurous or extremely rich anymore.
In February, we will be launching our day cruise boat in Halong Bay, the best in the bay to connect with seaplane flights from Hanoi.
In April, we will run our Street Eat Tour and Cycling Tour in Singapore. Every month, we will launch a couple of Buffalo Tours unique experiences in all of our destinations.
People could buy all of our exciting tours at nearly 100 of our tour desks in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh city, Bangkok, Phuket and Bali. Our website will increase its traffic ten times and for the first time, we might handle just over half a million passengers in a year!
This is very exciting for me personally because there aren’t many Vietnamese brands which could expand and succeed in the region. Buffalo Tours is proud that we have made that far. Besides, expansion means great journeys for our clients, opportunities for our staff and local communities.
Q: From the perspective of Buffalo Tours in 2015, what are your Buffalo Tours New Year resolutions?
A: Our resolution for 2015 is a promise of Buffalo Tours Smiles, Authentic Experiences through out Asia and Sustainable Growth, a growth that benefit staff, communities and shareholders.