Rad Season

Online booking sites these days are catering for our every possible need, from booking hotels, flights, and even your own personal masseuse (because we all need one of those) – there are one-stop shops in their plenty.

But for those of us who live on the edge and want the ultimate adrenaline adventure, booking services don’t quite address the niche. Yes, there’s Red Balloon for gifting ‘ultimate experiences,’ but in terms of connecting travellers and adventurers to sports, events and festivals the sector is still quite fragmented.

Launched in April this year, Sydney startup Rad Season is the latest booking site, developed by entrepreneur Oli Russell-Cowan, to connect thrill-seekers around the world to festivals and events dedicated to their adventure of choice.

Russell-Cowan has been a business developer for 15 years and on the side has travelled to 40 different countries on various surfing trips. In travelling and planning trips around world surfing events, Russell-Cowan found the whole booking process for adventure junkees quite difficult.

“Being ‘rad’ used to be a challenge. Action sports and adventure travel information used to be very fragmented, not only among the various sports, but in how people obtain it – across the web, print media, and word of mouth,” he explained.

“There was no one-stop-shop search engine for all your interests. Then say you finally do hear about an event in time, you still have to pull up multiple websites to work out all the details: Google Maps to tell you what city to fly into, Kayak to search for flights, Trip Advisor to get reviews and tips from others, Booking.com to find a close hotel or hostel.”

Rad Season collects information on a total of 15 different action sports and adventure events around the world including mountain bike championships, deepsea challenges, windsurfing festivals and surf expos. The booking site’s search engine allows users to find a particular event or niche based on location, date or type of action sport or event.

Once a user has found an event they wish to attend, Rad Season provides a map of the closest accommodation, with information on prices, distance from event and also the most convenient way to travel. Travellers are connected to hotel booking sites like HotelsCombined and Homeaway to continue on a seamless booking experience.

Along with booking services, Rad Season also employs a range of contributors to write exclusive content for its online magazine. The magazine informs users on upcoming events and the best places to travel for specific festivals or adventures.

Currently Rad Season covers events in 60 countries around the world and is now looking to expand into 100 by the end of the year. Russell-Cowan said he has seen a lot of growth coming from the US, Europe and of course the Australian market, due to the sheer number of adventure and action sports.

While Australians leave their homes in droves during the winter season to head to destination hotspots like Europe, a study has found that we are not, in fact, the biggest travellers around the world. According to a survey by Timetric, northern Europeans are the world’s biggest travellers, with Norwegians coming in as the world’s top globetrotters.

Australia however does come in at top ten for people who take the most international trips, and we do take our travel very seriously. Online sites like TripAdvisor and LonelyPlanet, which offer advice and first hand travel tips on the best places to travel, eat and sleep young, have found Australians are venturing out further from their comfort zones. According to a Contiki Holidays report young Aussies visited an average of four countries between 2007-2011.

Escorted travel like Contiki, Intrepid and TopDeck tours are also rated highly on young travellers’ to do lists. Approximately 66 percent of Australians want to book a holiday with a mix of culture, adventure and events.

With no fewer than 84 percent of travellers between the ages of 18 to 35 planning to book their next holiday online, sites like Rad Season are there to cater for those travel niches.

Russell-Cowan explained that the next stage of Rad Season will be growth and expansion of events to build out the platform into a larger audience.

He said, “We are also looking to create strategic partnerships with the travel, adventure and action sports industry and associated communities to provide the best offering to our customers.”

Image: Oli Russell-Cowan. Source: Supplied.