February marked another exciting and competitive month. Today, though, we’re thrilled to announce the 2nd Qualification Grant recipient of 2018 — Lisa Buie, Co-Founder of Don’t Forget The List.
DFTL is a unique company that specializes in planning Surprise Travel, Mystery Group Tours and Bucket List Tours. Lisa shares much more in our interview below.
WN: Share the story of how Don’t Forget The List came about
LB: We first had the idea for our unique travel company at a moment in our lives when we were stressed out from the daily grind. We wanted to go somewhere, but didn’t know where, so we threw a dart at a map and set out on a weekend adventure. After recovering from a spontaneous road trip involving The Mothman, a haunted hotel in West Virginia, a dead cave and an epic horseback ride into the mountains of Kentucky, the light bulb lit and we decided we HAD to plan trips like this for other people.The idea has grown and developed to now include group Mystery Tours as well.
The same spontaneous trip inspired us to start a yearly Bucket List of items that we add to and check off every year.Our yearly Bucket Lists include items like skydiving, swimming with sharks and performing at an open mic night.We believe that if you focus too much on the destination you miss the ride, and our company has been developed around inspiring others to have the same experiences.“The List” in our company name refers to all of our Bucket Lists!
Our adventurous travelers have told us that waiting to know where they are going is one of the best parts, which tells us we are on the right track
The full story of our first epic trip can be found on our blog.
WN: Where are some destinations you’ve worked with and how do you decide on those destinations?
LB: While we don’t want to give away all our surprises, we can say that we love to craft unique surprise experiences for individual travelers as well as our group tours! We look for off the beaten path and unique locations to pleasantly surprise our customers.For example, imagine sleeping in a luxury treehouse or snowmobiling to Old Faithful!We meet with Destination Managers and Tour Suppliers from across the country to identify and select the places we send our travelers.These colleagues ensure the locations and activities we send our customers to live up to our high standards.
WN: How do you strive to separate Don’t Forget The List from market competition?
LB: While offering Surprise Travel and Mystery Tours sets us apart, we also have other pretty awesome reasons we stand apart from our competition.
We love our amazing planet and want to ensure it is healthy for the next generation to explore.Because we know the travel industry is inherently “dirty”, with all the carbon emissions involved in car, bus, train and air travel, we purchase carbon offsets for all of our trips, so our customers can rest assured that when they travel with us all they leave behind are their own footprints!We work with a company called TerraPass that helps us offset the carbon footprint from each of our trips by investing in various earth-friendly projects and companies.The amount we invest is calculated by the number of miles our busses and individual customers travel.
We are also dedicated to working with local small businesses in the geographical areas we visit. We aim to book accommodations at highly recommended local hotels or bed and breakfasts, and always supply travelers with a list of recommended local restaurants, retailers and entertainment venues to visit during their stay.
We also strive to make every trip Bucket List worthy.While we are not the only company that offers Surprise Travel, we are the only one that custom creates journeys designed to ensure our customers don’t forget their Bucket Lists!We strive to make sure our travelers are still sharing their epic experiences with their friends and family years after they travel with us.
WN: What are your plans for the grant funds?
LB: We have some lofty goals!With a successful marketing campaign, we believe we can inspire a large audience of customers to live their lives fully and in the moment by restoring their sense of adventure through Surprise Travel and Mystery Tours.
Many of our colleagues believe Surprise Travel is the key to reaching the next generation of travelers. We want to be a major player in bridging the gap between millennials and baby boomers, and in boosting the travel industry as a whole.
Also, with some development and partnerships we plan on establishing a non-profit charity to fulfill the Bucket List items of terminally ill adults.
As a startup, reaching the public has been our greatest challenge by far.Since gaining exposure is our biggest hurdle and as a startup we have limited funds, the qualifying grant we just received would be dedicated to marketing and promotions.The money will help us get directly in front of potential customers at some larger travel shows as well as allow us to sponsor Surprise Travel trips for promotional events.It will also help with printing expenses, video production and paid advertisements.
While the grant funds are a major benefit, the PR boost we receive from winning the grant is, in itself, super valuable!Since exposure is what we need most, we are super excited and grateful to have been chosen for the qualifying grant and look forward to competing for the additional Amber Grant as well.
WN: Share some advice you would give to an aspiring female entrepreneur
LB: Go For It, Girl!
My business partner Holly and I came to the realization that while we were working hard for other organizations and corporations, we were spending our valuable time and resources working towards other people’s visions, not our own.Never doubt your greatness and ability to realize your dreams!Take one day, one task at a time and before you know it your ideas that seem huge and crazy may one day set you up to inspire and transform your whole industry.
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