The story so far...
From the beginning, it was all a bit of a happy accident. Old school friends Sam Clark and Tom Armstrong were both working within the travel industry, Sam for a regular travel company in London and Tom as a tour guide in Asia. One night when Tom was back in the UK, they got chatting in a pub and realised they were both a little disenchanted by their industry. They felt the traditional packages on offer were lacklustre, and missed the magical element of discovery they had experienced on their travels. An idea began to brew.
In 2004, Sam and Tom quit their jobs and moved to Sri Lanka. There they began to lay the foundations for a travel business, exploring parts of the island that most UK tour operators scarcely knew existed. The problem, they realised, was that traditional tours rushed people around the main sights, with no space for discovery, serendipity, or connection.
In 2006 they launched in the UK and recruited a third partner, Melissa, who shared their belief that travel was more than clicking together cookie-cutter packages, and had the industry knowledge to make connections throughout Southeast Asia. Their budding community began to flourish.
It soon became clear that this community was what set them apart. Everyone who came on board with what was now, officially, Experience Travel Group, believed that there was a better way to travel. The three founders met in-country partners, small hotels, brilliant guides and everyone in between who were passionate about creating experiences that revealed the fabric of the destination. Together, they could create experiences that benefitted local communities and respected local customs, while making sure clients had a damn good holiday.
Today we work in diverse destinations across Asia, but the guiding principle in each place is the same. We are not ‘anywherehot.com’. We are for curious travellers who want to get beneath the surface of a destination. We strive for travel that is meaningful, whatever that means, for everyone.
And these days, rather than stumbling across happy accidents, we seek them out. We want to facilitate genuine interactions, not prescribe every moment of your holiday. Because we know that, often, it’s the moments you can’t plan that turn into memories. Sometimes, they’re the moments that shape life altogether.
THE ETG TRAVEL COLLECTIVE
SAM AND TOM IN JAFFNA
MELISSA WITH FAMILY, FRIENDS AND GUIDE KHUN TI TAUT IN CAMBODIA
ABI AND FAMILY EXPERIENCING LOCAL TRADITIONS 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 SHOWING HOW TO MAKE HOOPERS
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?
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
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.
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