The ETG Story
And there you are. One minute you’re in the pub with your best mate, necking Old Peculiar and putting the travel industry to rights - the next you’re running life-changing trips, to life-changing places, meeting life-changing people.
It was brave, it was bonkers, it was 2004 and we didn't know any better. Me (I’m Sam, hello🙂) and my business partner Tom quit our jobs and moved to Sri Lanka. Not on a whim. On a mission. To set up our new travel business.
We explored parts of the island most UK tour operators barely even knew existed. And because most UK tour operators seemed fixated on rushing people around the main sights, with no time or space for discovery, serendipity, or connection - parts of the island they simply weren’t interested in.
By 2006 we’d launched in the UK and recruited a third partner, Melissa. A fellow ‘travel done right’ obsessive, Melissa knew exactly what it would take to build our network of connections throughout Southeast Asia.
And it was also around this time that our community really began to blossom and flourish.
A community that set us apart. Now officially Experience Travel Group, everyone we attracted was drawn to the same fundamental belief - that a travel experience should be about recriprocation - travel should be a two-way street.
So the three of us went out to meet new in-country partners, small hotel owners, and inspired guides, to build a travel family passionate about creating immersive experiences. Together we created experiences to benefit local communities, respect local customs and at the same time give every traveller a truly memorable holiday.
That we’ve been doing it now for more than 15 years tells you plenty of other people share and like our philosophy.
These days our network extends across South and Southeast Asia, but the guiding principle, wherever we work, remains the same.
We are not ‘anywherehot.com’. We exist for curious travellers who want to get beneath the surface of a destination. For immersive experiences that give back. And we always weave in a thread of holiday luxury, in whatever form luxury reveals itself to our clients. We don't operate holidays anywhere we can't deliver on these promises.
Rather than stumbling across happy accidents, now we actively seek them out. To curate right time, right place opportunities. Planet unexpected. Genuine interaction, spontaneous, unplannable moments. Moments that last a lifetime.
THE ETG TRAVEL COLLECTIVE
Sam and Tom in Jaffna
Melissa with family, friends and guide Khun Ti Taut in Cambodia
Abi and family getting local in Sri Lanka
Matt and James In Bhutan Playing Archery With Jamyang And Pemba
Sue in remote northern thailand with her guide and staying with a family
Surdashan, one of our chauffeur guides, joining in the hopper fun
ETG, IN A FEW WORDS
Sam is 6ft7 and often double the height of some people in Vietnam. He's known as Tall Sam in the industry. Rumours are rife he once knocked down a house!
We have an internal chat dedicated to food. Mostly Asian delights. Ask us for recommendations. The debates are wild.
After the Sri Lanka Easter bombings in 2019, we helped raise over £15,000 for the chauffeur guides who were struggling to pay the leases on their cars after a massive dip in tourist arrivals. It was only possible through the incredible generosity of many of our previous clients.
We tried to count the number of times we've all collectively been to Sri Lanka. We stopped after 100. Many of ETG have been at least 5 times or more. It is embedded in the heart of ETG.
Every few years we host a get-together with our local partners from all our specialist destinations across Asia. So far we’ve met in Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Thailand. During these gatherings, we get our thinking caps on, share ideas, inspire each other and have lots of fun. We believe this is unique in the travel industry and helps ensure ETG keep innovating the best holidays in the business across our destinations
The product meetings usually start with 'Tom would have been there' - one of the co-founders, he has pretty much visited every corner of Asia we organise holidays too. Except Bhutan. That's next on his list.
For two years we used to celebrate booking holidays by shooting a hoop...one team member never got it in despite getting loads of bookings! So it’s not true that practice made perfect.
Dear James , Thank you for sending me the paper copy of the itinerary for my trip to Sri Lanka and India , it arrived this morning. I have just spent an hour perusing it and already, I am excited, thank you. I was almost moved to tears when I read how you had included the dear acquaintances from my previous trips and at the prospect of renewing old friendships. For me, ETG’s attention to individual interests and needs is of the essence and when one travels alone as I do , this, combined with a deep sense of security, enhances my anticipation and enjoyment. And so another adventure begins, and after that, Saigon to Siem Reap Overland, what joy.
Just a quick one. We’re having the most incredible time. Thank you so much for everything! Sudarshan was wonderful, Sid equally brilliant. The team in Sri Lanka really are fantastic. What a brilliant partner to have in Country! We felt so looked after. (Which as you know is pretty alien to us having always previously holidayed or travelled under our own steam - sometimes to some pretty hairy places!) The hotels have all been incredible. So glad we went with your suggestions. Sielen Diva particularly is absolute bliss. Dhigali however has been on another level. Totally beyond our wildest expectations!!! So pleased we went with it. And already planning to return! Rest assured we will be singing ETG’s praises to all and sundry on our return, and hopefully coming back in the near future.
Sarah and Christian
With ETG, you feel like a traveller, not a tourist and for me I feel like the positives of tourism are emphasised - helping support local communities, not damaging the environment or supporting activities that are not sustainable or cruel to animals. I feel like I can trust ETG. Using ETG also gives you an adventure holiday with zero stress.
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Why Holiday with Experience Travel Group?
Immersive ETG holiday experiences let you genuinely connect to the people and places you visit. You’ll learn as much about yourself as you do about them.
Sometimes you can know too much. Our holidays are specially designed to confound preconceptions and share magical, memorable, unexpected discoveries.
Our B Corporation certification, commitment to sustainability and 'give back' philosophy mean you can always be sure that every step you take is light. Ethical, mindful, guilt-free travel - travel done right
A thread of
A thread of luxury that ties everything together. From beautiful boutique hotels to top-quality transport, to exceptional levels of service - whatever luxury looks like to you… it’s yours