Tourism award finds its soul

SoulQuest Travel wins its category in the NSW South Coast Tourism Awards, invigorating luxury coach touring

Tourism award finds its soul
Tourism award finds its soul

By David Goeldner | September 20, 2011

In the ‘deep south’ of NSW’s Sapphire Coast a tourism jewel has started shining out of a family-run route and charter operation with its roots at Queanbeyan.

A younger generation of the Deane family has taken on Deanes Transit Group’s South Pambula division, building a business that could have a competitive advantage through recently winning the NSW South Coast Tourism Awards in the Tour and Transport Operators category.

Jamie Klemm, nee Deane, took on the group’s south coast NSW operation four years ago, running a fleet of 29 buses and coaches, mixing route service with school runs, and more recently started a tour and travel business – SoulQuest – with her partner Anton.

Until 2005, Jamie had run Deanes Transit Group at Queanbeyan managing a fleet of 90 buses as Managing Director.

The Deane family bought the Pambula bus runs in 2001, in turn sold to Jamie and Anton in 2005 – although the couple retain a connection with the parent company in Queanbeyan, with Jamie as director of both the Pambula and Queanbeyan operations.

Jamie describes SoulQuest as the ‘pretty’ part of the business, with two coaches including the latest Volvo B12B.

"We started SoulQuest travel as an avenue to get the coaches moving," she says.

While Deanes at South Pambula are kept busy taking 2000 kids to 17 schools in the region each day, the charter arm has grown through SoulQuest.

Jamie says the main reason for entering the award was to create awareness around the SoulQuest brand.

"We’ve got low level to medium competition as far as other tour and charter operators in the area, so we wanted to increase our brand awareness," she says.

"And the other crux of it was that if we did win, which we luckily did, we become an automatic finalist in the NSW Tourism Awards."

The Klemms employ 40 staff at South Pambula across the bus business and the travel agency.

"We are very close to the Victorian border, so we do a balance of tours going Victoria-way and Sydney-way, just to keep it fresh, and it works well," Jamie says.

Upcoming plans include travel on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria and a tour of Tasmania.

Inspired by businesses such as Jenny Aitchison’s Northern Highland Travel in the Hunter Valley, the Klemms have adopted ‘experiencing the journey’ as SoulQuest’s slogan.

While marketing the brand has recently received a fillip through winning the local division of the NSW Tourism Awards, the Klemms have back their claims of providing a luxury coach-based experience with the recent acquisition of a Volvo B12B.

The B12B has been kitted with leather reclining seats, individually controlled air-conditioning, 5 LCD flat screens, bathroom, wheelchair lift, fridge and plenty of storage – and it’s Jamie’s pride of the fleet.

"The coach industry is not an easy one at times and the travel agency is new to us", Jamie says.

"However with our background in hospitality and a passion for travel, particularly in Australia, we are driven to see our business thrive."

Jamie says winning the award is motivation to keep working hard at the business.

Since winning the NSW South Coast award – presented at Wollongong in mid-August – SoulQuest travel is now a finalist in the state-wide NSW Tourism Awards, to be announced in November in Sydney.

"There’s huge marketing capacity around that and we get to use the finalist’s logo for 12 months, no matter what happens," says Jamie.

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