Shop talk: Agricultural tours

Shop talk: Agricultural tours
By admin


A farm valuer, a beef cattle expert and a member of the Red Meat Advisory Council may seem like odd allies in the travel industry. But as key directors of Quadrant Australia, the common goal of organising agricultural tours is what brings them together.

The Quadrant team has led tours to sheep farms in the US, agricultural shows in South Africa and grain farms in Scandinavia. They've also visited dairy farms in Denmark and kicked around cattle yards right across the UK.  
As executive director Peter Lloyd explains, the objective is to bring like-minded people together on educational tours so they can learn about agriculture and chew the fat with key industry figures. As the only inbound agricultural travel specialist in Australia, Quadrant is part of a niche market. And as it approaches three decades in the business, the company is going strong, organising around 30 livestock, cropping, horticulture and dairy tours each year.  

AGRICULTURAL ANCESTRY

Lloyd tells me that Quadrant is the result of a long family history in rural Australia. Stretching back to his grandfather's days as a stock agent, Lloyd's family moved into the aviation industry in the 1920s to help farmers get around in times of heavy rainfall. Lloyd's father then launched the country's first livestock tours in the 1960s before AgTours Australia was created in the 1980s. AgTours then merged with ANF Agritours in 2006, and Quadrant Australia was born.

Just as the land is close to Lloyd's heart, rural Australia is home to most of the Quadrant team. There's beef cattle advisors, wool and grain experts and livestock gurus who share centuries of agricultural experience among them. There are also travel consultants sprinkled among Quadrant's three offices in Armidale, Coffs Harbour and Brisbane – but in keeping with the business, most have grown up on sheep farms and cattle properties.

Lloyd, who is also a farm valuer by trade, says that it's the team's passion for the land that helps to deliver unique experiences to customers. "If our clients want it in a brochure, we don't do it," he lightheartedly informs me. "We make sure that each experience is tailor-made to suit the customer's needs." Part of the Australian Travel Agents Co-operative (ATAC), Quadrant prides itself on offering off-the-beaten-track experiences that aren't open to the public, he adds. "Specialised groups are our forte at Quadrant. We find a way to make it different and unique so that customers can go away having learned something with new friends."  
 

BRANCHING OUT

Understanding that travelling 11 hours to visit cattle yards in China may not fit the bill for every traveller, Quadrant also specialises in non-agricultural tours. There have been historical train trips and flower tours in recent years, not to mention porcelain and antique trips and culinary tours to India.  

Lloyd maintains that there is no job too big or small, but admits being a specialist tour company is not without its challenges. He recalls a Japanese group who were on the hunt for native Australian plants as an "interesting challenge". The task was to organise an educational tour so the Japanese visitors could learn how to purchase native plants. "The catch was that the plants had to be of the size that didn't grow too big because they were worried they wouldn't fit into their apartments in Japan… That has to go down as the most bizarre trip," he recalls.  
Lloyd also remembers a tough assignment with a bunch of cherry growers from Germany and a group of pineapple growers who proved equally demanding. The trick, he says, is to work closely with local operators and to keep in close contact with industry connections. Quadrant also works with 70 tour groups around the world, which has helped bring many tours together in the past.
 

FORWARD THINKING

With half a century of travel experience under his belt, and a lifetime on the land, Lloyd has got agricultural tours down to a tee. And charged with a team of like-minded experts, he remains confident no challenge is too great. "Group business is good business," he says. "We thrive on the challenge of finding out what customers want and then delivering the goods."

Lloyd's message to travel agents is that special interest tours are Quadrant's speciality, whether it is for farm enthusiasts, mining aficionados, garden gurus or anything in between. "We're not scared to take on a project. We have the knowledge to find out how to create even the most bizarre itineraries. It's what we do," he says.  
So the next time you have a client who wants to visit a Danish corn field, European cattle yard, or porcelain palace, Quadrant should be your first point of call.

FAST FACTS:

· Quadrant specialises in agricultural tours, but also organises a range of tailored itineraries

· Groups of eight to 10 are the norm, but Quadrant also caters for smaller groups. However, costs for smaller numbers are generally greater per person

· Quadrant operates out of three offices in Australia: Brisbane, Coffs Harbour and Armidale

· Both inbound and outbound itineraries can be arranged

· Quadrant covers major agricultural conferences each year, running approximately 30 trips every 12 months

· Customers are invited to visit, learn, and share their experiences with other travellers on their journey

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