Everyone knows it but not everyone likes to admit it: travel can sometimes be a bit daunting. Of course, exploring Panama, tramping Peru’s Inca Trail or venturing into the Costa Rican jungle is exciting, but you also need to have your wits about you. That’s where G Adventures comes in. Book one of its tours to South America and beyond with Flight Centre, and you’ll be in safe hands for the entirety of your trip, led by a fun, dedicated and knowledgeable Chief Experience Officer, or ‘CEO’ – basically the best of the best in guide terms.
We caught up with CEO Ankur Arora (otherwise known as ‘Aura’) to see what makes him, and his fellow guides, so essential when adventuring around the world…
So Aura, tell us a bit more about G Adventures’ CEOs…
The very term ‘CEO’ says itself how important that position is in any company. This title belongs to the most important person in an organisation, right? So, here at G Adventures this title is given to the tour leaders because our founder, Bruce Poon Tip, believes that they are the ones who represent the true face and voice of the company in the field. Here, we are called Chief Experience Officers rather than just tour leaders or tour guides.
G Adventures always wants to provide the most authentic experience to its travellers, so the CEOs are always local from the region. This way they can give a great insight into the culture and people of the country while G Adventures creates local employment and adds to the local economy.
What made you decide that being a CEO was the career for you?
Coming from a theatre background, I have always been interested in stories. Being a CEO is a great opportunity to explore places and meet new people, and that comes along with hearing their stories. And of course, I like to get a different audience every time I share my collected stories. This process has been, and continues to be, an eye opener.
What does it take to be a guide?
Just know when to be crazy and when not…! Ha ha! But really it’s about giving the best experience to your guests by meeting their travel needs and expectations. As they say in my home country of India: Atithi devo bhava. This means: ‘the guest is equivalent to God’. At G Adventures, we share almost the same philosophy where our aim is to exceed the guests’ expectations. There are guides, there are tour leaders and then there are G CEOs.
What’s the most difficult thing about being a guide?
Waking up and looking pretty every day till the trip ends!? Seriously though, some days can be difficult when you have long travel journeys, and you still want to put your best face forward so that the travellers can have a good experience.
How would you describe your typical day?
There is no typical day and that’s the best part about it. Of course each day I do provide information and also keep the travellers updated with what’s coming up next on the trip. The good part is, even though I see so many of the same places again and again, it’s always different through the eyes of new travellers. Each day can be full of surprises!
What areas do you cover?
India and Nepal.
What’s the best thing about your job?
I get opportunities to do most of the things I love: travel, meet new people, share stories and experiences… And fortunately, I get paid for it!
What’s your favourite tour to lead?
Any trip that has enthusiastic travellers.
Why would you recommend travelling in a group with G?
G Adventures offers many itineraries and various styles of trips which are fun. But the trips are also meaningful because they adhere to the company’s commitment towards ethical and sustainable tourism. If you’re looking to ‘Embrace the Bizarre’ and ‘Create Happiness and Community’, book your next trip with G Adventures because ‘We Love Changing People’s Lives’.
Do you have any secret, expert tips you can share with us?
Yeah: sign-up with G Adventures to know the secret tips. Wink!!
Do you have any particularly memorable anecdotes of your touring with G?
There are many memories from my travels with G Adventures, but what really won my heart was when I was leading a trip in Nepal last year and the unfortunate earthquake happened. We were paragliding in Pokhara when it happened and, as we approached the landing site, we saw a large crowd of people gathered.
Being up in the air, we were completely unaware when the earthquake hit and did not know that people were seeking safety in the open field. It wasn’t until we were on the ground, we learned of the devastation. Of course, our efforts were fully concentrated on the immediate safety and home return of all the G travellers. But it didn’t end there. Once everyone was home safely, the focus then became raising funds to aid the people of Nepal. Planeterra (a G Adventures not-for-profit organisation) reached out to travellers, employees, its affiliates and raised $214,000. The response was unbelievable. 100% of all funds raised went directly to Nepal earthquake relief.
I’m proud to be G.
Ready to embark on your trip with our touring friends at G Adventures? Book your G trip through Flight Centre this June 2016, and you’ll get a 20% discount on all South America group tours, including great value flights with KLM. So what are you waiting for?