Tailor Made Adventures by Wild Wild Expedition
Today we interviewed Vlad Minin, creator and mastermind of the Wild Wild Expedition company that organizes personal expeditions all over the world.
At Wild Wild, we are wildlife specialists who deliver some of the most immersive experiences available in the natural world. Our focus is creating extraordinary journeys, putting you in the right place at the right time for up-close and personal encounters.
Vlad, tell us about yourself: (who are you, where are you from, what did you do before entering the field of expeditions, where did you get the skills to organize expeditions, where do you live now)?
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been cycle touring, caving and rock climbing. In my childhood there were many hobby clubs. Once we even rode our bikes from Moscow to the Crimea.
Vlad, how did you get the idea to go into travelling, and how did you come to make it your life’s work?
I once got into a terrible motorcycle accident in the center of Moscow, and then spent several months in the hospital. Having barely escaped death, I learned to walk again. And two years later, I made a journey around the world on a motorcycle, because I realized that life was too short to spend it in the office. Since then, I no longer work and do only what I enjoy – organize personal travels.
What does the term “personal expedition” mean in your opinion?
This is when absolutely everything is handpicked for a specific group. Our guests want much more flexibility than can be found in other companies on the market. It is for this flexibility and personalization that our customers are willing to pay money.
Tell us a few words about your company. What is WWE today?
Today, Wild Wild Expedition is a large network of connections with local residents, guides and companies organizing extreme tourism all over the world. We also actively cooperate with geographical societies of various countries to organize the unique experiences for our guests.
What falls under the notion of cooperation with local residents, guides and geographic communities? What benefits does it bring to your customers?
This gives them not only the feeling of being an insider, but also a sense of security. The locals know their land and habitat better than anyone else does. Besides, I personally pick the best representatives.
The philosophy of WWE is “Live Your Dream”. What do you include in this concept?
Every time we create a new experience, we are literally realizing someone’s dream. That is why, our trips are rarely repeated – this is always a holiday only for a specific group of people.
How many expeditions a year do you organize?
Not more than ten. This is a custom-made exclusive product. We are not after quantity. The quality of the service is much more important.
What are the most popular and memorable destinations?
The most popular destination today is, of course, Alaska. This huge and unique region has many opportunities for digital detox – the hottest trend of our time. Some other interesting destinations are in Latin America and Central Asia, especially Mongolia.
What are the most exotic expeditions you had to organize?
For example, traveling on motorcycles from Moscow to the Republic of South Africa. This expedition took a month and a half and included a large number of exotic countries in the Middle East and East Africa.
It required a lot of preparation on our side, and having safely guided the guests through this route makes us proud.
What is your client demographics?
For the most part, they are businesspersons, both male and female. They come from various places – Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, the UK, the US and more.
By which criteria do you select people for the expedition (should they have common interests)?
If it is the expedition format, then we try to find people with similar interests. It can be both executives and government employees, athletes or coaches.
Why do people even go on expeditions? (What is the social, psychological, transformational reason)?
Business owners get tired not only from work, but also from relationships and popular luxury destinations. Nowadays there is a new trend – going back to the well, to yourself to search for an answer: what am I living for, what do I really want? For some of our guests it was important to test their partners in an extreme situation, for others – to figure out their family issues. Travelling into the wild and undergoing trials open up new endless capabilities in people.
As far as we know, 6 to 8 people take part in one expedition. Why are the groups so small?
Our trips can even take place one on one with a guide. We try to limit the size of the groups, thus allowing our guests to enjoy travelling and nature more than interacting with other people. We are literally making that comfort bubble bigger.
What level of fitness and what equipment does one need to go on an expedition with you?
The level of physical fitness is a criterion of the trip choice. This means that the most prepared ones will go on an expedition with greater risks and intensity. We also do step-by-step load escalation that slightly exceeds the capabilities of our guests. This is the only way to unlock human potential.
How is the question of life safety handled during the expedition?
Safety comes first. At the beginning, we hold a briefing where we discuss safety measures. Secondly, our guides have paramedic certificates and all the necessary medications for most risks. Thirdly, we have means for emergency communications and contact with rescue services to provide timely assistance. And finally, we require the client to have insurance for the journey. These measures allow us to maintain a high level of safety.
How are your company’s expeditions different from many other tours organized by travel agencies?
Our distinction is that we are not afraid to fulfill our customers’ dreams and don’t just sell finished products.
Do you want to travel around the world on a motorcycle or cross Alaska on a snowmobile, the Sahara on your own camel or sail down the Amazon on a boat?
We take on difficult destinations and just get it done.
How long does an expedition last on average, and what is its cost?
On average, the trip takes 10 days.
The basic price is $ 1000 per person.
Do you work with corporate clients (for example, if a company wants to arrange a corporate expedition for its top management)? Which route would you recommend for them?
We have done such projects many times for some well-known companies, such as BMW, Land Rover, Audi, Sony, Breitling, The North Face and others.
As a rule, this is the format of the expeditions where we tested equipment and gear. One time, we organized an expedition through Mongolia with elements of extreme for the top management of one large construction company.
Each time the details are discussed by the companies’ management and the most interesting destination is chosen.
If we talk about an expedition with the family, can it be organized and can children participate in it? Which route would you recommend for them?
Of course! The west of the United States is a perfect place for this. For example, one of the bank managers ordered a trip through the US national parks from us with the option of living in the ultra-modern truck camper Airstream. We own and manage this mobile home. The selection of wild routes and scenic stops in America is simply awesome!
Tell us more about your boutique hotel called CAPSULE. How can your customers use it?
This is our new feature. We call it CAPSULE.
There are two formats.
The first one is a retreat. We install the truck camper in one of the picturesque wild sites of the US, and the guests spend 3 to 10 days one on one with the nature. They take walks through wild beaches, mountain paths or the desert.
The second one is an adventure. Every night, we install the truck camper in a new picturesque wild place in the US, and the guests are walking through a scenic route across several states for 7 days.
How does an expedition as a whole go, where does it start, where does it end, what are the sleeping accommodations?
It all depends on goals and objectives. As a rule, we meet our guests at the airport and escort them to the hotel. Then the briefing takes place.
Guests can live in unique homes, hotels, in the snow, caves, in yurts, Berber tents, or even hammocks in the jungle.
In any case, we provide the necessary comfort.
What is the level of comfort in these expeditions?
Comfort is a relative concept. We discuss minimal requirements with clients and then provide conditions. For example, one guest wants to sleep in a hammock on cacti and another one chooses our new trailer Airstream and travels through the wilderness with ultimate comfort.
How do you spend evenings in your expeditions? Is there any entertainment, networking?
In the format of an expedition, everyone is ready to drop at the end of the day, and there is absolutely no energy left for anything else. All networking takes place during activities. During travels, there is usually more free time and less intensity, so guests have the opportunity to sit by the fire and discuss all the adventures.
You have so many beautiful photos from your expeditions; do you bring a photographer with you? Can a client count on a selection of such photos after the expedition?
We have such a service. We can bring a photographer, videographer, drone pilot and editor, if it is important for our clients.
From your point of view, what will happen in the future of personal extreme tourism industry? What trends, new products and additional services can be provided?
I am sure that the share of personal tourism will only be growing. People like personalization, and we are feeling a stronger and stronger need to escape from civilization – somewhere, where there is a challenge, pristine nature opening itself to you, where there’s no cellphone service and, most importantly, there are no other people.
Do you have a plan of your expeditions? Where would you recommend to go in 2019?
Of course, Alaska is the #1 destination. First of all, this is the Arctic Region, the last place left where human influence is still minimal. The Aleutian Islands are also of great interest.
I highly recommend taking part in pursuit racing. The Dakar Rally in Latin America is definitely a unique experience.