Imagine Experiences turns days out into extraordinary adventures | City & Business | Finance


Born out of lockdown’s limitations, travel and hospitality experts Ana Araque and Brendan Murphy launched Imagine this year starting with London and its great pool of legendary characters and locations.

Living the high life for a day as James Bond, dipping into edgy art and blitzing your Insta feed with Banksy and Beyond or soaking up a slew of saucy revelations during a Sex, Scandal, Sin & Harlots tour form part of Imagine’s current repertoire.

And from this week its A Christmas Carol with Dickens will give families with children, from three years upwards, the chance to mingle in Victorian London with a host of the great author’s inventions, join in an immersive spooky performance of the classic tale, enjoy some tavern hospitality and even help Scrooge mend his ways.

Designed around gatherings with fewer than 10 people accompanied by a host and a driver, experiences cost from £59 and cater for scheduled bookings as well as private and corporate groups.

Guides are specialists in their particular field such as espionage, history, food or music, and they create the commentary. Transport comes from year-round chauffeurs and a company aiming to have a sustainable, electric fleet by 2023.

“British tourism seemed a bit outdated, it needed a change of scene. With our brand we have rethought how travel should be, to make it more immersive, engaging and educational,” say Araque and Murphy.

“A tourist is anyone who steps outside their home zone. We want international visitors to have a more authentic insight into British culture and for the domestic market to engage with their own heritage without being patronised or overcharged. 

“Our customers want to travel with a purpose, seeking out experiences and gathering memories.”

Each tour is different and Imagine can customise and dial up the luxury accordingly. “But we deliver experiences privately or in groups at the same price, thus giving luxury without the normal price tag associated with it,” explains Araque.

“We aim to keep it fresh and we’ve seen strong interest from people all over the UK who might usually snub tours based on similar subjects. 

“Our Bond guests love dressing up and getting into character and generations differ greatly in what they consider is a great day out. For Gen X, born between the mid-1960s and mid-1980s, it’s curating their lives through social media, for Millennials it’s more about experiences.

“We want to create days that people never forget and want to develop more off the beaten track products, and invite locals of lesser visited areas to tell their stories.”

Thanks to the pair’s trade expertise they have been able to forge a powerful distribution chain of online travel agents and experiences platforms. Virgin Experiences is a key partner along with brewer Greene King, owner of two must-visit historic London treasures, Southwark’s George Inn and the Anchor Bankside.

By 2024 Imagine is forecasting a £11 million turnover and will increase its team which currently employs three full time and 25 freelancers.

Now the business “has skin in the game,” says Murphy “we are looking for our first external investment, an angel investor with travel and entertainment experience”.

A new product pipeline is being finessed with a Bond sequel and more destinations including Kent and its misty waterways and smugglers’ dens, then Scotland, Manchester and Bath.

“We hope to extend experiences so people can make a weekend of it,” says Araque. “Imagine is on a multi-dimensional trajectory.”

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