Richard Wolskel is a Travel expert, writer and founder of the Go4 brand of companies, offering car rental, motorhome rental, cruise holidays and accommodation.
He is the author of the Complete Guide To Car Hire where he reveals everything there is to know about car hire.
Here’s a bit more about Richard…
Early Beginnings in the UK
I grew up in Shrewsbury in Shropshire, the main town in a large farming area in the English West Midlands.
The house my family lived in had a large garden. As children my sister and I had numerous pets.
Besides the obligatory cat and dog, there seemed to be a variety of other animals including mice, rats, hamsters, budgerigars, salamanders and newts at various times.
In the holidays we usually went camping on the Welsh Coast, or further afield up to Scotland; first in a tent and later in a small caravan that my father had bought.
Europe And The Not-Quite French Connection
There were also trips across the channel to Europe. Some memorable holidays included hiking in Austria, as well as skiing in Switzerland.
I managed to tear the cartilage in one knee on one skiing trip, then managed to repeat the feat the next time I went!
During the summer holidays there were also trips to France, where I was packed off to stay with a French family. I think with the purpose of learning another language.
Unfortunately, my linguistic skills were somewhat lacking, and my ability to speak French remained very basic!
On one holiday I sailed as part of the crew on the 2 masted gaff schooner “Hoshi” from Salcombe in Devon across to Roscoff on the Brittany Coast, before sailing along the French Coast back through the Channel Islands.
The first couple of days we had to shelter in Dartmouth due to a storm in the English Channel. Unfortunately, I was seasick before we left harbour, and that only got worse on the overnight crossing to Roscoff.
Luckily, I got my sea legs after that, and was fine for the rest of the trip.
After leaving school, I had a year farming before going to an Agricultural College for 2 years.
My father and aunt had both gone to school in Australia, before moving to the UK.
As a result, we had plenty of Australian relatives, that used to visit us on their occasional trips to Europe and the UK. Growing up, Australia was a place that was frequently a topic of conversation at home.
A “Ten Pound Pom”
When I finished Agricultural College, I applied to emigrate to Australia.
After being accepted, I came out on the Northern Star as a “ten pound pom” from Southampton to Sydney.
The trip took just over 4 weeks, with stops at Las Palmas, Cape Town, Durban, Fremantle and Melbourne. The cruise ship seemed luxurious at the time was nothing compared to today’s mega cruise ships.
I wasn’t complaining though, at £10 with all meals included, I know I will never get a holiday that is better value!
A Desert Crossing
After a few months working in Sydney and buying an old Ford XK Falcon, before driving across the Nullarbor with a couple of mates to Perth in Western Australia.
The road over the Nullarbor Plain was unsealed at that time. As it was winter and had just rained, we ended up stopping and having to tow a couple of cars out of some boggy patches, where they had become stuck.
Once in Western Australia, I obtained various jobs working on stations in the outback or wheat-belt.
Adventures in Agriculture
At Agricultural College there had been an excellent lecturer on a pig farm, and the college as a result had an excellent programme, which I had been interested in.
Eventually I found a job on an intensive piggery outside Perth, and eventually ended up managing it, having worked at a couple of other properties in the intervening years.
Welcome To Travel (And Koala)
In 1984, I started looking for alternative work, ideally related to the travel industry.
As a result I joined up with Alastair Wintler, who had recently started a motorhome rental company called Koala Camper Rentals.
Later we joined forces with Peter Garbenis in Perth and Peter Wood in Adelaide as joint partners, both of whom ran other campervan rental companies.
The company then ran motorhomes and campervans right around Australia.
Challenges Turn Into Opportunities
Whilst at Koala Camper Rentals, we started a wholesale travel division run by Ralph Lavin called Sunbound Australia Holidays, specialising in motorhome rental and self-drive holidays including car hire and accommodation in Australia and New Zealand.
In 1991, I ended up leaving the motorhome rental business. As the other partners were looking at closing the wholesale travel business, I ended up taking on the travel business, with Ralph as manager initially, operating from a small 3-bedroom house.
A few years later Koala Campers was taken over by Britz Campervans, who were later absorbed by Maui Motorhome Rentals as part of the THL Group.
It’s GO Time
In the beginning business was very difficult, however after 12 months we decided to specialise in travel to New Zealand and closing the Australian travel business down.
After changing the business name to Go New Zealand, bookings soon started picking up. Go New Zealand specialised in self-drive holidays, car & motorhome rental, accommodation, tours and activities.
As the business grew, we gradually took on more staff, until we eventually had to move out to bigger premises.
David Vs Travel Goliaths
One of the major problems we ran into was that in Australia there are large travel agent groups. All these travel agency groups have preferred deals with individual travel wholesalers.
To break into these agency chains can be extremely difficult, as these groups have all the power.
Expand To Survive
As a result, the only way we could break into these monopolies was to expand our product range and offer a lot more choice than the existing wholesalers, whilst still providing the best service we could.
Anytime we received an enquiry for a product or tour that we did not have, we would go out and find what the agent wanted.
None of the other wholesalers we do that at that time, so we started picking up lots of agents that we would not otherwise have obtained.
Later as a result of the increased interest from travel agents, our product range increased to include both holidays to the South Pacific Islands and later self-drive vacations in Canada.
Global Financial Crisis Hits The Travel Industry
After some initial success, in 2008 business conditions became very difficult with the Global Financial Crisis.
So, in October 2008, the decision was made to close the wholesale travel business and instead operate as an online travel agent specialising just in New Zealand again.
Putting It On-The-Line
Going online allowed us to considerably expand our product range, making best use of our existing and new contacts.
As part of this increased product, we looked at expanding the accommodation, car and motorhome rental options that could be booked on the site.
As a result of this, we added 3 new websites specialising in accommodation, car and motorhome rental worldwide. As we were also getting enquiries for cruise holidays to New Zealand, this was also added later.
Go4 Travel Websites
Here is a brief overview of the Go4 Brand’s group of travel websites.
Go New Zealand
Specialises in travel to New Zealand, booking everything from accommodation, vehicle rentals and coach tours to hiking, skiing and adventure holidays. A one-stop shop for all holidays to New Zealand.
Worldwide accommodation booking comparison site.
Book and compare car rental from all major car rental companies, as well as many smaller brands. With a wide range of vehicles and branches, you can easily find a suitable car rental, giving you the flexibility to pick up and drop off where you want.
Go4 Motorhome Rental
Campervan, motorhome and RV rental reservations in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, North and South America as well as Africa and Japan.
Go4 Cruise Holidays
This website has a great range of cruising holidays from the Pacific to the Mediterranean Sea and the Inside Passageway to Alaska or Caribbean Sea.
Go4 Travel Blog
A comprehensive travel blog on where to go and places to visit, with practical advice and tips. Everything from adventure holidays and hiking, to places of historic interest or food & wine vacations.
Making Holidays Better
We believe in providing the best choice possible for your holiday or rental requirements.
We invest in website development to make it easy for you to find the holiday, accommodation or rental vehicle you require is an ongoing process.
In peak periods our reservations staff are always available to help you book the vacation or rental vehicle you require, or make suggestions as to alternative options.
Thankyou for reading a bit more about me and the ways in which Go4 websites can help you with your next holiday.
My team and I look forward to serving you at some point in your travel adventures 🙂