Chimu Chat: Karsten Horne

Karsten Horne, travel then, now and into the future

Karsten Horne looks at travel in the future.
Karsten Horne | Reho Travel

Running the only BCorp travel management company in the world, best described as experienced, efficient and ethical, Karsten and his team from Reho Travel, provided top-level services for their corporate, study and leisure clients before the pandemic hit. A veteran in the industry, Karsten describes what happened in the first few days of the declaration of the pandemic as more than you’d see in several years.

Every hour the landscape changed and major decisions were made on the fly. I can only describe it as, one day, waking up in a tropical jungle, birds tweeting, the sun shining through, green all around, then boom there’s a massive explosion and you are suddenly in the desert with no sign of life.

I remember being interviewed by Channel 9 News, lamenting the fact that we had to reduce our entire team to a four-day week. By the end of the week, I retrenched an entire department as we went from 90 confirmed study tours to zero in 24 hours. It was heartbreaking to have to let go a great bunch of people, that had given so much to the business over many years.

Today we are still open for business, albeit a slightly different shape, with everyone working part-time mostly on the corporate market. The pause, however, has given me time to work on the business, reducing costs, improving processes and creating new account management systems currently being adopted by travel companies around the world.  I have also taught myself to make videos, wrote some poetry, I even wrote a song and started learning Spanish.

Looking back, I feel lucky that I took every opportunity to travel when I had the chance. I always knew that I was only 24 hours and a few hundred thousand frequent flyer points away from anywhere on Earth. In 2019 on an impulse, a mate and I flew to Turkey, climbed Mt Ararat and came back within a week. I can’t even imagine that will be possible again, but I remain hopeful.

Walking away from the travel industry is not an option for me, I love a challenge.  Once I got over the initial shock I thought, “Ok bring it on, I’ve been preparing all my life for this.” Anyway, I tried to reinvent myself as a rap artist and I was crap at it, as for my attempt at becoming a tradie, let’s hope the building inspectors don’t look too close! So, I guess after travelling to over 100 countries and doing this for 35+ years, what other choice do I have?

The incredible thing is, those of us left in the industry have been very supportive of each other and are more open to sharing ideas and collaborating rather than competing. In the future I look forward to partnering with suppliers that are genuinely committed to making a positive difference in the destinations they are working. Personally, a percentage of our profits will be invested back into a series of initiatives we are planning in Timor Leste.

I will be pushing for the entire industry to put sustainability at the forefront of their thinking.

After travelling to over 100 countries and doing this for 35+ years, what other choice do I have?
Karsten’s attempt to pivot to rapping has been documented and is highly entertaining.

Author: Meg Hall

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