Founder’s note: Why a military background helps
Attention to detail, contacts in remote places, and the ability to mitigate risk - these are just a few of the benefits to a military background
Words by PELORUS
Both of the PELORUS founders, Geordie Mackay Lewis and Jimmy Carroll, served as British Army Officers. Here they explain how the military skills they acquired during this time translate into their vision for PELORUS and the future of experiential travel.
Where have you served?
Geordie: “I conducted two operational tours of Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010, both leading British Reconnaissance soldiers and Afghan Special Forces in Helmand Province. I also competed jungle warfare exercises in Belize, mobility exercises in Canada and desert exercises in South Africa.”
Jimmy: “I conducted a tour of Iraq in 2006, leading long-range desert patrols along the Iran-Iraq border. I also served two operational tours of Afghanistan in 2008/9 and 2012/13, working with indigenous forces, the US Marine Corp and British reconnaissance troops. Both tours of Afghanistan resulted in being awarded Mention in Dispatches. Aside from operational tours there was time spent in the jungle of Brunei and attachment to the Royal Gurkha Rifles, along with serving as ADC to Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff Operations and working in the cross Whitehall political arena.”
The Army helps us recognise the importance of attention to detail
How does your time in the army help you design these unique travel and adventure experiences?
Geordie: “Our knowledge of planning and executing detailed operations in truly remote and often complex environments is the perfect foundation for designing PELORUS experiences. Our background helps us recognise the importance of attention to detail in every part of the planning process, this includes the asymmetric approach that we apply to each project, ensuring we include everything possible to enhance the experience. The Army taught us to come up with creative and innovative solutions and that is exactly what we do at PELORUS.”
Jimmy: “Throughout our time in the army we worked in a multitude of environments throughout the world and tested ourselves in some of the most arduous conditions known. The lessons of working with multiple nationalities and overcoming cultural differences is key to succeeding and building a lasting legacy. The same principles are used when planning a PELORUS experience.”
Does this background give you access to areas that other agencies couldn’t achieve?
Geordie: “Special access to certain parts of the planet is a key differentiator between ourselves and other operators in the industry. There are so many corners of the world that people do not know exist, or if they do, how to access them. Our aim is to give them the access and opportunity to experience these extraordinary places.”
You must have built trusted contacts in remote parts of the world?
Geordie: “We have been very lucky to work with some incredible people worldwide and our experience of working alongside indigenous people has certainly given us a cultural advantage. Coming into the travel and yacht sectors we realised that most operators use the same contacts in each country, therefore offering the same as everyone else. Our global network of contacts is very different and includes everything from government agencies, jungle experts to Arctic guides. This enables us to unearth some extraordinary locations that are simply not offered by the rest of the industry and is what sets us and our clients’ experiences apart. In addition, these are the amazing people who bring everything to life and make it memorable, exciting and fun.”
Our backgrounds have trained us to identify and mitigate risk
How can you use this to ensure your clients’ safety and security?
Geordie: “Our backgrounds have trained us to identify and mitigate risk, ensuring clients safety and security at all times. We carry out thorough risk assessments for all our experiences and thorough due diligence on the people, assets and equipment that we employ to make them happen. All our guides, hosts, captains and pilots have up to date qualifications and medical training.
Jimmy: “Risk management is at the heart of everything we do. Medical cover is not a given for most companies, but is something we take seriously; this is considered at every step of the way in any location. It also looks at getting people home if there are issues with a client’s family member who isn’t on the trip. Mitigating against risk is not a tool with which to reduce fun and enjoyment, but one to enhance it and ensure clients can maximise their experience.”
Are there places in the world you still won’t operate in?
Geordie: “Unfortunately there are many locations that we will not operate in. This might be due to political risk in a country or equipment safety issues in a particular environment. The ability to say no to a client is incredibly important – if it does not pass our risk assessments we will find another exciting alternative.”
The military tag should give people reassurance that they are in safe hands
On seeing you’re both ex-military, people may assume your experiences are quite hardcore. Is this the case?
Geordie: “We believe in showing people the best of the planet in style and luxury. The majority of our experiences are soft adventure with very high levels of comfort and mostly cater for slightly more adventurous families, groups of friends and honeymoon couples. The fact we are ex-Army gives our clients total peace of mind that their holiday will run smoothly and safely, but also that we have the logistical knowledge to bring luxury to any part of the world.”
Jimmy: “The military tag should give people reassurance that they are in safe hands. Our ability to cater for all demographics – couples on honeymoons to families with young children – is about understanding the client and what makes them tick and then designing an experience which caters for all their needs and desires. Our combined experience of working for multiple companies has broadened our approach and, ultimately, it is more about designing a lifestyle based around experiences. We aim to create the magic for clients who wish to travel, and this is underpinned with the skills and education the military gave us.”