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John Anderson


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Founder - Contiki Holidays

What can you do with 25 pounds, an idea and a beat up minibus? Ask John Anderson. John left New Zealand at age 22 to travel England for a year and returned 20 years later, having grown Contiki Holidays from a simple idea into one of the world’s major tour operators. John’s story has a marked effect on the emotions of his audience, and tells of his determination, belief in his staff, and of his successes and failures.

About John Anderson

John Anderson at the age of 22 took 25 Pounds, an idea and created a new product, an international brand name that is now a $300 Million plus business. It is an incredible story.

John built Contiki Holidays through passion, brand and commitment – “we laughed as he spoke, but the passion was strong…he cried as he delivered parts of the Contiki story, it was moving, empowering and made an impact. He had an idea, a passion, a drive, he made mistakes, and he gambled, took risks, but always had a plan. He made something from nothing, built on people, a brand and a passion. An international success story, delivered with sincerity, tears and laughs. John Anderson was Richard Branson before Richard Branson."

In 1962 with just 25 pounds New Zealander John Anderson found a way to not only see Europe, but to start his own business, Contiki Holidays. At the age of 22 John left New Zealand for England for a one-year trip overseas. He returned 20 years later with his wife Alison, four children and the international tourism business, Contiki Holidays.

When John sold the company it was, and remains, an International “brandname" and one of the worlds major tour operators, (the largest catering specifically for the 18-35 year old market). From a staff of one and a beaten-up minibus, John expanded to 700 staff, operating 160 Mercedes coaches and 15 European properties including a Chateau, Hotels, camping grounds and cruise vessels. He built brand awareness of 92% in target markets, with Contiki operating in Europe, North America and Australasia, carrying 100,000 passengers annually.

When John eventually returned to New Zealand from the one-year trip, he continued to run the Contiki Group, and built and operated 2 Resort Hotels one in Queenstown, NZ and the other in Queensland, Australia.

The first Contiki tour was typical of those to come - departing London on 29th April 1962, a group of 11 young strangers from Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa with John Anderson as their tour leader set out on a 12 week tour of Europe. They travelled in a 12-seater minibus with their camping gear, a road map and a guidebook together with the enthusiasm to have the experience of a lifetime. The trip was a huge success and they returned lifelong friends. Contiki had changed their lives.

Contiki experience. It has had a major impact on the lives of many people, both passengers and staff.

For the majority of passengers it remains one of the highlights of their lives. Many thousands met their lifetime partners, for others it was their first time away from home or travelling overseas and many found life long friends. Contiki reunions are common and continue even from the very first trip.

The Contiki story is an incredible story, which remains virtually untold, yet it's a household name in several countries around the world.

Presentation Topics Include

In John’s presentations he tells the incredible story of how he developed a simple idea into one of the worlds major tour operators. This includes tales of his determination to succeed, the belief in himself and his staff, and his successes and failures. It is full of extremely funny and sad anecdotes that have a marked effect on the emotions of his audience.

Contiki was built on a huge range of personal and business disciplines. John can speak in detail on any element as he tells the story of Contiki which includes many entertaining stories, with hard-learnt lessons about success and failure in business:

  • Entrepreneurship
  • Creating a customer focused organisation
  • Team building & Leadership -Train your people, create leaders and let them take responsibility.
  • Dealing to the competition - Branding is everything – word of mouth  and the brand the experience.
  • Sales, marketing and distribution - Quality, Service & Value, not price.
  • Building a business - Risk taking
  • Planning for the unexpected Believing in your own and staff capabilities
  • Small business = big business- Setting challenges
  • Setting goals & achieving them- International business
  • Inspiration / Motivation - The incredible Contiki Story!


“Blew everyone away….He’s great….Nice guy…Everyone had tears in their eyes…Gave it everything…his presentation was spot on the objective…seemed to understand the brief perfectly"
Coca-Cola Australia

“Heart felt, emotional, touched people, connected with the audience, received standing ovation. People swarmed him afterwards. Genuine. Passionate, loved him."
Tourism New Zealand

“Extremely well received by the audience, did his research and fine-tuned his address which had tremendous relevance, delivered powerful messages to a diverse mix of professionals and academics, he has a great sense of humour, outstanding!"
CPA Australia Launch in NZ

“Excellent, amazing, very personable and sincere. Was almost the star of the whole conference."
NZ Motor Trade Association

“Excellent. Quite simply John was outstanding! As our closing keynote address, his Contiki journey absolutely nailed our conference theme which was 'High Voltage Business Building'. To remain so passionate about the business he founded some 40 years ago is a credit to him and was wonderful to share."
Choice Aggregation Services

“Excellent. John Anderson's presentation was not only outstanding, but was considered by many participants to be the highlight of our entire event. John's story was in equal parts informative, entertaining and moving, leaving all of us feeling inspired and many of us feeling quite emotional.
John exceeded all of our expectations by a long way: 10/10
RACV Business Development

John was a very inspiring and interesting speaker. John's story was perfect for our audience of SME's as many of the experiences he shared with the group about taking risks, believing in yourself, continually innovating cold easily be translated to their businesses.
CFC Group

“Excellent. A very personel presentation and had all sections of the audience captivated young & old, his own values are those that we should have, excellant."
Bosch Automotive Service Dealers Network

“Excellent,Johns passion is infectious, it is then evident that he achieved all of his amazing success with not only passion but amazing business nouce! He is one in a million and his humility with such success makes you realise what a wonderful person he is also.“
Proteus Leadership Centre

"Excellent, Johns story struck a chord with the audience and the passion and emotion in which he delivers the message was felt long after he had finished".
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