Our local businesses are crucial to ensuring the Mornington Peninsula thrives. So many businesses have impressively adapted through the challenge of COVID-19. The Shire congratulates this innovation and excellence and wants to shine a spotlight on it. Come behind the scenes and meet some of our locals that are adapting, innovating and demonstrating excellence.
Meet Melinda and Dave Reynolds, owner of Mornington based business, Raw Travel. Together the team have been operating and leading trips since the late 1990s. United by a shared passion for trekking and globetrotting in far-flung places they began RAW Travel with the aspiration to be Australia’s most inspiring and innovative walking company.
The pair strongly believe travelling on foot means you slow down, really see the world around you and better connect with nature, people and cultures. Operating walking tours worldwide for over 20 years, they have worked hard to carve out a reputation as specialists for self-guided and iconic walks around the world such as the Camino de Santiago and Kumano Kodo.
When COVID-19 hit, like many in the tourism industry, it really impacted their business. They chose to take the opportunity to be productive and explore new opportunities. Mel shared with us,
“It has been a tough journey with repeated lockdowns that compromised the ability to operate a successful travel business. We have had a dedicated team throughout this period! We decided not to sit and wait and instead launch a group of new initiatives to invest in our future client’s experience.
This has meant that we have rebuilt our website, developed a new RAW travel navigation app, launched a freeze-dried food range, and developed 30 new trips local to Australia and New Zealand across a variety of trip styles. As a long-term business, we have a history of pivoting in response to challenges and were prepared for this.”
With local and Australian experiences now their focus, Mel and her team received overwhelmingly positive feedback about their new offering from customers. She explained,
“Our clients who have been unable to travel internationally are now providing really positive feedback about their recent experiences on our local walks. We've tried to be as flexible as possible by providing lots of options. Many clients have booked on multiple Australian walks and are thrilled about the experiences we are providing both as guided, self-guided and independent options.”
Raw Travel has created a bank of dynamic local Mornington Peninsula itineraries, celebrating all that the couple love most about the region. Their itineraries encourage clients to explore the stunning and diverse scenery coupled with the gourmet elements of the region. A client shared,
“RAW travel put together an innovative and wonderful guided trip for us on Mornington Peninsula. Out guides were very experienced and competent. It was a great mix of exercise, beautiful natural environment and vistas and food/wine/cultural experience.”
Thinking outside the box, Mel and Dave launched ‘adventure in a box,’ a combination of a new navigation app with detailed information to experience destination independent of a guide, and RAW tucker – an innovative, locally sourced and produced, lightweight food range perfect for outdoor enthusiasts.
“Our new ‘adventure in a box’ concept is for independent souls who enjoy the great feeling of freedom and self-reliance that comes with self -sufficient adventures in the outdoors. We welcomed a new audience through this initiative who just want to order the meals for their outdoor pursuits (not just hiking) and our overwhelming feedback has been around the taste and convenience.
One of the joys has been partnering with local suppliers and businesses who have been generous and supportive of our ideas.
Where possible we have sourced ingredients throughout the Peninsula from businesses like Mock Orchards in Red Hill, to produce a locally made, highly nutritious food range inspired by our travels - and this has really resonated with not just our walking clients but a wider outdoors audience.”
Raw Travel has shown us that through adversity can come innovation. While we may have needed to stay close to home for much of our year to keep our community safe, Mel shares her gratitude for where she lives – the Mornington Peninsula.
“It's the perfect place to quickly get outdoors either on a bike, in a Kayak or with hiking boots on. I appreciate we have all had to endure lockdowns, but we are blessed we have been able to do that here and that, for most of us, the 5 or 10km radius can include some amazing nature-based experiences and food.”
The Mornington Peninsula is fortunate to have local businesses like Raw Travel, passionate about the region and eager to share the local experience with residents and visitors alike.
As our local businesses continue to reinvent local experiences, we can all make a difference. Stay, play and explore local – you might be surprised what you rediscover in your own backyard.
Mornington Peninsula Shire’s Support Local campaign urges community to support local. Connect with local businesses on our Support Local Business Directory
Contact one of our Visitor Information Centres by stopping by or calling to chat with one of our friendly local experts.
Mornington Peninsula Visitor Information Centre
Address: 359B Point Nepean Road, Dromana. Phone: 03 59501579
SUPPORT LOCAL. Think. Spend. Recommend.
Find other ways to support local businesses at mpbusiness.com.au/supportlocal