By Philipa Washington
Sitting in the back corner of a quiet Maroochydore café, one would expect their interviewee to arrive at their meeting in a relaxed fashion, matching the ambience of its location. But Dane Dunne, co-founder of the Entourage Tours company, is a busy man. Heading Entourage Tours, that has taken more than 200 people on tours globally in the last 12 months alone, added with bookings now open for his company’s largest tour, Croatia 2018, that would be expected. Casually dressed, the 32-year-old strides into the café speaking confidently into the phone held to his ear and carrying his laptop. Finishing his phone conversation before arriving at his intended table, he cheerfully takes a seat and quickly sends off an email.
Born and raised on the Sunshine Coast, Dane expresses his love for the peri-urban area, attributing that to the Coast’s ability to maintain its non-metropolitan feel, in spite of its ever-growing population. Dane speaks fondly of his parents, younger siblings and coastal upbringing, but it is talking about his fiancée, Emily, and 10-month-old daughter, Olive, that really has him smiling.
“I did it. Engaged. Took 10 years,” he says. He jokes about the lack of sleep a baby involves but how much fun fatherhood is. “Easily the best thing in the world,” he says.
Dane reveals drinking red wine and cooking as his interests, which he happily combines in his weekly Instagram stories aptly named On the reds, where he presents amateur cooking videos while drinking red wine.
After finishing school Dane had no specific career plans but knew he wanted to travel. Who would have guessed the manifestation of that want would ultimately lead to the conception of the Entourage Tours company?
“I always loved music and travelling and I just thought, ‘no one’s doing that’,” Dane says of the initial idea for the pioneering music festival tour company. The first tour was in 2009, including 30 people who booked through Facebook, and was at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in California.
“We had no idea what we were doing,” Dane says. The process for building Entourage Tours into the well-oiled machine it is today was not easy and involved learning from many mistakes. Dane had taken no business courses prior, although he did attend the University of the Sunshine Coast, but pulled out before committing to enrolment. “If I could go back again I would do a business degree and major in marketing,” he says.
Dane’s goal for Entourage Tours is to increase its number of bookings and add new tours by continuing its partnership with Student Flights and Flight Centre, which consistently update Dane with the most enquired-about travel destinations. His mentality is to provide tours in popular destinations but to stray from the norm. He says Entourage Tours cannot compete with Top Deck and Contiki Adventure Tours, nor does it aim to. He is confident in his company’s niche market created through its offering of high-end activities and inclusions and although their tours are more expensive, Dane feels the offerings outweigh the price. Others clearly agree: Entourage Tours has combined 18,000+ likes and followers on social media and 4.9 review rating on Facebook.
Entourage Tours has toured in over 20 countries including Morocco, Spain, Belgium and Italy, and incorporated well known festivals like Tomorrowland, Benicassim, Burning Man and, of course, their largest tour, Hideout, in Croatia. Twenty-two tours have been offered since the company’s inception and Dane has attended every one. He says now he is a father stepping back from the hands-on side of tours is inevitable, but says he still has a few years of tour travelling left in him.
Dane says meeting new people is his favourite part of travelling. Surprisingly, after travelling extensively he still has destinations on his bucket list but puts Tel Aviv, Israel at the top. Of the places he has visited he says Barcelona, where he lived for three months in 2013, is his favourite holiday destination, stating simply, “it has everything”. For someone who has led a lifestyle that allowed him to experience the events and countries many only dream of, the future plans for himself are quite simple: have at least one more child with Emily, and eventually live out his days on a little Greek island, with a great lifestyle, a lot of swimming and a lot of sun.