Introducing the first travel agency designed exclusively for coeliacs!

Introducing the first travel agency designed exclusively for coeliacs!

 

Karsten Horne from Victoria describes why he decided to start a new company especially for coeliacs. “A weekend in Sydney proved to be difficult – imagine a month in Central America”

 


Not long after returning from a family adventure in India, my wife Michelle complained of stomach pains, bloating and subsequent weight loss. Not unusual, given the destination – however after weeks of misdiagnosis, tests revealed that she was in fact a coeliac.

 

Not really knowing if this was a good result or not, it soon became apparent from our family doctor and several colleagues that the next step was to attend a session with Sue Shepherd the dietician.

 

Many of you know Sue and would understand what an inspiring person she is. Whilst the others in the session were concentrating on the changes that would need to occur in their daily habits – I was thinking further afield. Sue now laughs at the only question I asked, “What happens if we are in the middle of the Amazon and the only thing to eat contains gluten?”  At least it was better than Michelle’s question relating to grain fed cows!

 

Shortly after Michelle’s diagnosis, our first big test came with a visit to Sydney for an AFL game. We scoured websites, highlighted restaurants; pre packed some items and headed off. Fully prepared it worked quite well except the stumbling block came when we simply couldn’t be bothered leaving the hotel for a meal.

 

Considering the amount we travel it was then that I started thinking, how do other coeliacs cope when they travel? Is there a list of hotels and resorts in Australia and around the world that cater for gluten free travellers? Weeks of research on the Internet and many phone calls and emails to my extensive network of travel industry colleagues built up over the last 20 years soon revealed that no such list existed.

 

With inspiration from the likes of people like Sue Shepherd and the positive contribution she has made, the opportunity to provide assistance to fellow travellers and the challenge of launching a service that had never been provided before. The concept of glutenfree travel was born!        

 

glutenfree travel Progress Report

 

We began in August 2006 by contacting dozens of airlines, thousands of hotels and resorts, scores of tour and cruise companies explaining our mission.  It’s been months of exhaustive research and in September 2006 my wife, Michelle quit her finance job after 22 years to assist in the research.

 

Although sometimes frustrating, we’ve been overwhelmed by the response with hundreds of replies coming from people in the tourism industry. We’re really excited that we’re starting to change the way they think. We were hoping a few would be cooperative, but we really underestimated their enthusiasm!  

 

One hotel chain is now so excited about our mission that they are talking about completely revamping their menus Australia-wide. 

 

We have partnered with a travel insurance company that will provide automatic waiver for coeliacs and allow travellers to buy discounted policies online. 

 

Even several airlines are taking a second look at the special meals they are providing.

 

Looks like we have started a revolution!

 

So many people are wanting to get on board that we’ve been flooded with emails asking us what we need, and how can they help?  So we’ve been busy spreading the word, not just about glutenfree travel but about the coeliac condition in general. 

 

Our official launch will be early next year, but there’s a lot of work still to do before then!  We’ve started on our website www.glutenfreetravel.com.au, and there’s already plenty of useful information loaded that relates directly to gluten free travellers.

 

We Need Your Help!

 

We’re working hard to build our database of gluten friendly airlines, hotels, cruise lines, and tours – but nothing is more powerful than a first-hand recommendation!

 

Nobody knows better than a coeliac where to find the best gluten-free food.  We need to hear from you about your travel experiences – good, bad or indifferent.  Those people who couldn’t do enough for you or who made things easy for you – tell us and we’ll rave about them on the website!  And those resorts who didn’t understand what you needed or what gluten-free really means – let us know and we’ll rate them accordingly.

 

We want to make enough noise so that travel companies and hotels everywhere change to coeliac-friendly menus and service!

 

We’re hoping you’ll help us spread the word that finally, there’s a genuine travel resource for coeliacs, and an agency that truly understands. 

 

Our Vision for the Future

 

Now you know how we’ve begun, we want to share our dream for where we’d like glutenfree travel to take you.

 

We want to be a useful resource not only for yourselves as coeliacs, but also for travel and hospitality staff who want to get on board and make your life easier. 

 

We want to give you a voice to pass on feedback, information, tips and anything else you’d like to say in our forum. 

 

Provide our clients with an exciting monthly newsletter full of tips and stories from the road. (Yes, you will find out how we went in Central America! )

 

We want to build you a website where you can do all this in one place:

 

Source competitive fares and hotel rates

 

Research hotels and resorts that offer genuine options for gluten free families

 

Book airfares and accommodation

 

Be confident that meal requests are processed correctly

 

Deal with an agent who knows exactly what you need as a gluten free traveller

 

The idea is that we want to promote all the wonderful resorts, chefs and restaurant staff that do everything they can to make gluten free living easy.  We’ll be

ranking everyone on our website:

One tick
no gluten free menu is available, but management has been helpful to coeliacs in the past

 

Two ticks

a gluten free menu is available

Three ticks
an extensive gluten free menu is available

 

Please help us to get there!

We’re passionate about your cause, so please help us to build you the best travel resource you could want.  Log onto our forum at www.glutenfreetravel.com.au and give us as much feedback as you can.

 

 


 

 

Who is glutenfree travel?

 

·         A new concept by an established, well-respected, multi-award winning agency

·         A division of Reho Travel, a corporate and leisure agency of 25 years experience with offices in Melbourne and Sydney

·         A member of the Travelscene American Express network

·         A company with first hand knowledge of living and travelling with coeliac disease

·         Website www.glutenfreetravel.com.au

·         Head Office - 209 Toorak Road South Yarra VIC 3141              Phone: 03 9823 5222

·         Contact: Karsten Horne – Managing Director

 

 

 

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