After celebrating a milestone 50th anniversary in 2023, this year marks the beginning of the next 50 years for Big Five. What makes it so remarkable is that Big Five has reached half a century and has done so under the same family ownership , something my father, the founder of Big Five, and I, and everyone in the company, is proud of. We maintained stability no matter the challenges we endured, or the adulations we enjoyed. I will tell anyone who will listen that a true measure of success is how grounded one remains. The same can be said of Big Five, and it gives me great pride to say that it truly does, and it is what I believe deep down to my core. I remember times when my parents and I had very little, and listening to my father in those rare moments, talk about his parents, who were both lost before he was 20m and how my mother reflects on her childhood in Sudan and watching her family flee Sudan as refugees, as recent as late 2023. These struggles shape us, as most will tell you. However, they only define you if you never forget those low moments and use them to ground you while propelling you further. This is Big Five…an embodiment of who we are as a company, a team, and a family.
As we enter the next five decades, we start with an ambitious agenda of what we want to achieve this year. At the center is a promise I made to our team as we emerged from the pandemic: “we would continue the work to help the voiceless as we have in past years, especially during the hard times.” We would not just continue; we would increase our aid to those in need the most, in alignment with our pillars of sustainability, at the same pace that our business continues to grow. We are a beacon of assistance, a preservation company first, a travel company second, focused on helping those who have been marginalized and so we invite you to come and take a look and learn about our initiatives here. In addition, at the end of 2023, we developed digital avatars of my father and me, the first tour company to do so, and we have grand plans to integrate this AI-powered multimedia in our pre-departure, client-facing communications. This is one of the largest undertakings we have ever committed to, and I am excited to watch it unfold. Our goal for this year is still to push the envelope in authentic, sustainable travel. That means continuing to redefine the definition of luxury, away from conventional boundaries and exploring the richness of traveling remotely. That said, with a new year comes new ingenuity. We have a new software in place, that allows our advisor partners to co-brand any page of our website, down to a blog, a video, a tour, or up to its entirety of bigfive.com. This is another initiative where Big Five was the first to implement this on the tour provider side. I am really looking forward to sharing the rollout of this new technology with our travel advisor partners, who can test drive this here.
Finally, we have relaunched our fast-growing podcast, the Sustainable Voice, with new co-hosts and topics that take the conversation to new heights. Talking about getting out of one’s comfort zone, I took a step away when we originally launched this podcast. I was overjoyed with the subscriber growth as we talked about big successes in small places featuring unsung heroes working to improve life for those who need it most. These are all parts of this year’s ambitious plan to enhance the Big Five experience even further. On a personal note, In 2023, I was invited to join the prestigious World Travel Tourism Council as a regional member, something I have dreamed about for over 15 years. I intend on using this platform to promote sustainability while working to have tourism’s true economic contribution to the world economy properly accounted more. As someone who has been marginalized and told I would not amount to much on more than one occasion, this was a huge honor I don’t take lightly, and the journey it took to get here is something I share with pride. As Nelson Mandela famously said, “Exceed your own expectations”.
“We are Big Five – Designed Differently. Explored Sustainably.”
President of Big Five Tours and Expeditions