Richard Campbell of 10Adventures: “Go local”

Go local. Covid has alerted us to all the great stuff that is right within our own backyards. Micro-adventures have became THE trend for 2020, but I think it’s here to stay. With so much to explore within your own country, travelers are reducing their carbon footprint and lifting up their local businesses at a […]

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Go local. Covid has alerted us to all the great stuff that is right within our own backyards. Micro-adventures have became THE trend for 2020, but I think it’s here to stay. With so much to explore within your own country, travelers are reducing their carbon footprint and lifting up their local businesses at a time they need it most.

As part of my series about “developments in the travel industry over the next five years”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Richard Campbell.

Richard Campbell believes he has the greatest job on earth as the founder of 10Adventures — an adventure travel platform, allowing community members to plan their own trip or book a tour in over 50 countries. Outside of work, he’s a lifelong traveler and outdoor enthusiast. These days, you can often find him trying ever more adventurous recipes, reading and hiking with his wife and three young boys in the Rocky Mountains.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

My first job out of university, I had the choice to join a big German bank or join a startup that didn’t even have a website yet. I ultimately decided to join the startup, as it seemed more interesting. Over my time there, I got to manage the development of every new product. At one point, I recall feeling bad that I kept getting, what I felt, were the best projects in the company. I was sharing this with my colleagues in the pub after work, and suggested I go to the CEO and mention that somebody else should get a shot. They all looked at me funny, and one said “Richard, you have the worst job here. Nobody wants to do what you do”.

Since then I’ve realized that I love the challenge of building something new, going from nothing to something. I had long assumed that everybody enjoys this part of creating a business, but in truth, most people don’t like this type of task, and prefer more structured jobs with less ambiguity and risk of failure. This is why I founded my own startup, 10Adventures, which is an adventure travel platform, allowing community members to plan their own trip or book a tour in over 50 countries. I ultimately enjoy being able to create something that is important and meaningful, and serve an important need in the adventure travel community.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

On the first big travel conference I ever attended, I arrived in Tuscany a day early in order to scout hikes for our Tuscany section on 10Adventures. I booked an apartment for the first night and woke up to realize I’d been bitten everywhere by bedbugs. Thankfully, the owners were very gracious and apologetic, but my face was completely swollen. That day, I arrived at the travel conference looking like I’ve been beaten up. I was super self-conscious, but it turned out to be a good icebreaker and led to some great connections. I guess it was worth it!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I once found myself working in Argentina, where the national language is Spanish. And while I speak French, I was just starting to learn Spanish. Many Spanish words are very similar to French words, so I was able to speak decent Spanish quite quickly. One word I used often was “excite” (excited). I would say “excitado” quite a lot, and I noticed some of my colleagues would look at me weird when I would say “I’m really excitado about the new website” or “I’m really excitado about lunch today”. Finally one of the only English speakers said “Richard, do you know excitado means sexually aroused?”.

What did I learn? Don’t guess too often, and pay attention to how other people react.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”? Can you share a story about that?

I feel like we’re the luckiest people on earth in travel, as we’re all doing things we’re passionate about. Adventure travel itself is even better, as the guests are generally great people, and super interesting. So every day, I’ve chosen to surround myself with passionate, inspiring people.

Even working in such a great environment, I believe it’s important to have time off. In my case, I prioritize family time, and make time in my schedule to have lunch with my family, take days off to get into the outdoors and have incredible adventures with my favourite people on earth.

In the pandemic, it’s especially easy to get demotivated or depressed — it can really suck. For our team, we have aggressive goals that we are all working on. Being busy helps in the downtime, our team is never idle and we focus on accomplishments — not on what’s out of our control.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I’m incredibly grateful for my team, I’m always learning from them. My career has been about growing companies, and I believe it all comes down to people. Surrounding yourself with knowledgable, passionate people is the key to achieving success. Too many managers think they know everything. Listen to your colleagues, not just about work (where they often know more than mangers), but things in general. We all have challenging lives, and working in a team where you are valued and the team is flexible about other life commitments is important.

Thank you for that. Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. Can you share with our readers about the innovations that you are bringing to the travel and hospitality industries?

Adventure travel is booming now more than ever, as people realize the benefits of more natural travels, rather than plushy resorts. Adventure travel isn’t just hard-core mountain travel, but includes a lot of soft adventures, like e-bike touring, walking and more.

Unfortunately, the tools to assist in planning an adventure are stuck in 2005. Honestly, planning adventure travel sucks, and we’re here to change that. 10Adventures has everything you need for booking or planning adventure travel. Whether you want to plan your own trip, hire a guide for the day, or book onto a multi-day tour, you can do it all at 10Adventures.

In the face of COVID-19, we’ve also pivoted to focus on our custom, private group trips. Our custom guided trips are for you and your group only, and can often be customized based on specific requirements and timeframe. These trips were created for individuals or small groups that know each other and want a guide — perfect for a self-contained adventure. All our tours, regardless of destination are outdoors, exploring lesser-known destinations and isolated within your private group of cohorts.

Which “pain point” are you trying to address by introducing this innovation?

Booking adventure travel, or any travel for that matter is time consuming, as you need to use dozens of websites to book just one trip. It’s also risky to book a tour off the web, as you never quite know if that guide or tour company is legitimate. At 10Adventures, we strive to connect guests directly to local tour operators, saving you money, time and hassle.

As you know, COVID19 changed the world as we know it. Can you share 5 examples of how travel and hospitality companies will be adjusting over the next five years to the new ways that consumers will prefer to travel?

  1. Small groups. The days of 60-person group travel on buses is slowly dying. It makes sense, as it’s far more fun to make lifelong memories on a holiday with a group of friends, or your family. Private, small groups are the future. We’ve seen a huge trend of multi-generational bookings and a transition from cruises to experiential travel.
  2. Go deeper into a region / Go Slow. People want to learn more about less. This means exploring a smaller region, but getting to know it better. Engage with the food, culture, towns and people rather than booking a top attractions tour. This often means going slower as well, as you aren’t rushing to see every little thing.
  3. Get outdoors. With so many physical and mental health benefits, spending time outdoors on a holiday is becoming more and more important. Innovations like ebikes have opened up cycling tours to people who have never done an active vacation before, and they love it. A week spent hiking, kayaking or cycling is one of the best ways to rejuvenate oneself.
  4. Sustainable tourism. More people are looking to explore off-the-beaten path destinations, as some destinations are a victim of their success. We’ve seen a huge influx of adventure travel that is off-the-grid, eco-friendly, and gives back to the local communities you’re touring within. Travel is often referred to as a major polluter, but these days with carbon offsetting and a focus on local or sustainable travel — you can do more good than harm.
  5. Go local. Covid has alerted us to all the great stuff that is right within our own backyards. Micro-adventures have became THE trend for 2020, but I think it’s here to stay. With so much to explore within your own country, travelers are reducing their carbon footprint and lifting up their local businesses at a time they need it most.

You are a “travel insider”. How would you describe your “perfect vacation experience”?

Honestly, all vacations are great, and sometimes a luxury city break is what I need, other times a beach holiday, and often something in the mountains. Ultimately, almost all my favourite memories are moments from vacations or family adventures.

What I’m dreaming of now is teaching my boys to snorkel off the coast of Maui, snowshoeing to a mountain cabin, as well as summer backpacking. These are amazing experiences, in beautiful locations and I know the wonder my family will have, as they learn something new. There is always guaranteed to be a lot of laughing.

Can you share with our readers how have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I have worked on causes that support nature and education in developing countries. This has taken the form of working with the Nature Conservancy of Canada to protect critical mountain environments, as well as a major trek to raise money to build schools in Nepal.

Right now I’m on the Board of Directors of the Alpine Club of Canada, where we work to preserve Canada’s alpine environment. At 10Adventures, we are currently working on programs to support local communities we directly impact, as well as their environments. We expect to announce and expand on our initiatives in 2021.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

If I could find a way to convince everyone to take a week long hiking trip — the world would be a better place. A week on a hiking holiday will change a person’s life. It encourage them to get away from their phones, social media and day-to-day pressures, and just enjoy being outside and on a different rhythm. I think they’d easily reconnect with nature and the outdoors, which is a real human condition. Almost everybody that completes a hiking or trekking tour once — often does them for the rest of their lives. They find they lose weight, gain new friends, explore the world and find so much joy.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

I’m not crazy about social media, but you can find out more about 10Adventures and myself at or you can connect with me on LinkedIn.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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