THE LOKA STORY
PIONEERING A TRAVEL REVOLUTION
Beyond traditional backpacking and mainstream commercial tourism, in 2014 we launched ‘Loka’.
Loka is the world’s first ‘Flexible Travel Collective’. A new approach to creating and linking extra-ordinary experiences and being immersed deep into local cultures. Locally guided, flexible pass options are offered incorporating attractions on and off the beaten track; using a combination of our own buses and public transport. This is all linked with a mobile web app, which allows customers to find, book, rate and review the things that they want to get involved in, from made-for-visitors attractions to local community projects.
THE EVOLUTION OF TRAVEL NETWORKS
As the founder of Kiwi Experience, Oz Experience and Stray New Zealand and Asia (big backpacker travel networks), I have been involved in flexible guided travel operations for over 20 years. We have worked with many people over the years to find and develop great stops and activities, which are well off the beaten track. I have learnt that we have a responsibility to work with people over our travel routes to make sure that what we do is sustainable in the long term. We’ve established Loka* as a ‘social enterprise’ – to bring benefits to the people and places we visit and to give a wide variety of possible suppliers a way to access travellers. This isn’t for purely altruistic reasons – it is the way that we ensure that we have the best and most authentic trips. We work with people and communities in out-of-the-way places to make them ready for visitors – we have hunted out unique alternative stops and people that show off the real Australia, we invite people to submit new things and we are open to all ideas and change. The flexibility of our travel networks allows you to do whatever you want over our routes – to make it easier we have created a mobile web app, which allows you to easily choose what you do while travelling with us, keep up-to-date, and importantly, to give feedback on what we offer over our routes. You can also share your ideas for possible new developments – to further support the people we work with and to help future travellers. This ensures that Loka always gives you the freshest, most authentic Australia.
“I strongly believe that travellers should have a choice of what they do and how long they spend over travel routes. I’ve always believed (and years of feedback from travellers supports the theory), that the best activities are the authentic local ones.”
-Loka Founder Neil Geddes
WHO ARE LOKA TRAVELLERS?
The average age or people who travel on Loka is 24 – this doesn’t mean you have to be 24, you might be 18 or you might be 104. The majority of travellers are from the UK, Europe and North America, however there’s usually a broad range of nationalities.
Some people travel the East Coast and by only going to the main stops and staying in backpackers hostels (where often travellers work at reception), they may not actually meet any locals – let alone the real Aussie characters off the beaten track or Indigenous Australians. To get the most out of travelling with Loka you should get involved – participate in the amazing little stops along the way and get immersed in the authentic local experiences.
HOW DO YOU TRAVEL WITH LOKA?
We use different transport modes – our own buses, comfortable fast trains, public buses, boats – which ever best suits the travel area. We choose the best mode of transport based on what will get you to the World’s Coolest Stuff while also being the most economical and environmentally sustainable.
“What is the most important thing in the world?
It is people! It is people! It is people!”
There’s an old Maori proverb: He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata! He tangata! He tangata! What is the most important thing in the world? It is people! It is people! It is people!
In 2014 New Zealander Neil Geddes, launched Loka, what he believes will become the World’s Greatest Travel Organisation. It’s a movement as well as a company, not driven by the founders but by travellers themselves. Travellers frustrated with conventional travel, frustrated by the purely commercial nature of mainstream travel that fails to offer real local experiences.
Through Neil’s life and the Loka team’s extensive travels they have made incredible relationships with locals and other travellers around the globe. Even in the most exotic locations, it was the people and these relationships that really stood out. They knew that they needed to create a travel organisation, a movement that made in a difference in the local communities, and within the travellers themselves.
Neil has been recognised as the global founder and thought-leader of flexible itinerary touring. Geddes says, “All our previous experience from Kiwi Experience, Oz Experience and the Stray Travel Networks has led to this moment; we have the technology, the know how and the passion to make this the World’s Greatest Travel Organisation“ The Loka team are very hands on – Neil moved to Byron Bay from New Zealand with his family to set up Loka in Australia. They are continuously seeking out cool unique things for Loka’s clients to do every day, they are authentic and transparent – they don’t just support activities and attractions because they have a financial interest in them – they support what’s best for the clients. Loka has open customer feedback forums so we can only be biased by quality. They are very close to the market – it’s the way they earn their living – they believe they need to be the best that they can be every day for the customers, the people Loka works with and the communities we visit. It’s all about the people, the people, the people!