Jerry Bridge traveller entrepreneur and also a new business start-up advisor explains the origins of the Bridge family’s involvement in travel & business since 1949. World Travel with Bridge is a website designed to promote Jerry Bridge’s travel and business interests as well as to help others succeed in life. Similar, you could say, to Richard Branson and his ‘Virgin’ empire! Jerry has travelled to Australia over twenty times and currently lives eight months of the year in New Zealand. It is because of this that his knowledge of both countries puts him in a strong position to advise people thinking about going on holiday there. Having specialised in tailor-made holidays to Australia and self-drive itineraries around New Zealand for many years, Jerry’s ability to book unique journeys is guaranteed. But first, we think you need to know a little about who these ‘Bridge’s are and where we’ve come from.
The name ‘Bridge’ has a long history of travel behind it which started with Walter Bridge. You will have seen the link through to his informative and culturally interesting video – it’s vintage! Similarly, if you are intrigued about how start-up travel businesses manage to get off the ground click through to my two award winning companies, Bridge the World and Bridge & Wickers
You can check Jerry’s Linkedin CV profile page if you like or take a few moments to read a recent Q&A newspaper article, publications in Wellington’s ‘Dominion Post’ covering various aspects of his career. Friends call him ‘Travelman’ by the way, because of his extensive travels around the world as well as his involvement in the travel industry over the past 30 years.
Jerry Bridge – Background History
I think I inherited my parents love of travel early in life when, aged 10, I ran away from school… but that’s another story. Summer holidays were spent in Majorca and the Norfolk Broads but at 15 I was working at my Father’s office in the heart of Paris for the Summer (Paris Travel Service – part of the Bridge Group of companies). Inter-rail followed a year later along with a number of memorable hitch-hiking journeys across Europe and as far east as Istanbul. India and South East Asia were a natural progression from here before I embarked on the longest of my trips so far – getting to and travelling around Australia in the 1983-5 period of my life with Chris Reeves, my old school friend.
Life in the Travel Industry – early days
My first major break came after my travels around Australasia when Trailfinders (the UK’s largest independent travel agency during the 1980’s) took me on as a trainee travel consultant. I have to say the personal travel advice I was able to offer came in very handy. In fact, I was as surprised as anyone to win the top sales award for two years running but there you go, Trailfinders unlocked that particular sales ability door and I never looked back. Approaching my third year there got me thinking that if anyone could start up a similar business, it was me. One of my colleagues, Brian Barton, joined me and off we went in search of a name and office location. Bridge the World was established with little start-up funding but with huge self belief. Although, to begin with, we mainly sold discounted air tickets, we quickly built Bridge the World into one of the UK’s leading round the world holiday specialists to Australia and New Zealand.
The Sale of Bridge the World
The sale of Bridge the World in 2001/2 came after I merged the company with Travelbag, another UK Australia and New Zealand holiday tour operator. Ebookers plc were desperate to please the city after their ‘float’ on the London Stock Market and the combined turnover of our businesses (GBP400m) was too good to be true. At last someone was really going to give Trailfinders a run for their money!
Bridge & Wickers Start-up
Starting Bridge & Wickers from scratch in 2004 was a massive challenge but one that I was ready for. All I had to do was ensure I had the right business partner and a fresh marketing strategy. David Wickers was that man and our ‘experience-led approach to selling luxury tailor-made holidays to Australia and New Zealand quickly caught the attention of both the UK travel industry and the travelling public. Within four years of operation we had won Tourism Australia’s top award: ‘Best Tour Operator Australia’.
Exiting Bridge & Wickers
It’s a long story about what happened from then onwards and why I decided to sell Bridge & Wickers to The Ultimate Travel Company, but I am happy to reveal all if you get in touch with me. It’s also another chapter in my life that led me to move to New Zealand where I currently live for eight months of the year.
Please contact me and take advantage of my free travel advice and bookings for the holiday of a lifetime to either Australia or New Zealand.