SnapAdventures offers ex-pats in Beijing the best of both worlds
BEFORE landing in a new country they’ve chosen to call home for awhile, most ex-patriates imagine an adventurous, exciting lifestyle filled with daring travel and once-in-a-lifetime cultural encounters on a regular basis. Those romantic images tend to fade a bit upon arrival, however, as the reality of adjusting to and working in a new city sets in.
It’s all-too-easy to give in to the lure of ex-pat bars and the stable social scene you carve out for yourself quickly upon arriving. Somehow, those visions of cultural immersion, language learning and far-flung adventures get set aside for another night out at a divey ex-pat haunt, followed by a day-long recovery process that is more reminiscent of their college days than most people would care to acknowledge.
SnapAdventures, a company that facilitates travel and social events for the ex-pat crowd in Beijing, seeks to bridge that gap.
Long-term expats and SnapAdventures co-founders Steve Wong, David Goodman-Smith and Scott Gorman began to notice a certain trend among fellow foreigners in China.
“We knew a lot of people who left without really being able to experience it the way they would’ve liked, partially due to the hassle of organizing things, partially due to laziness, and partially due to not knowing what’s out there,” Wong said.
The three decided to bring the experience they had gained through their involvement with China Study Abroad, which assists foreigners looking to study Chinese to come to the country, to bear with a new endeavor: SnapAdventures.
“It dawned upon us that we should connect the two: expats who are looking to do more with their time in China besides go to bars and such, and us having the experience of running fun and unique activities and trips,” Wong said.
The company bills itself as a “China-based social travel and event company that provides a no-hassle experience at affordable prices.”
Since its founding in December 2011, SnapAdventures has led numerous trips to different locations outside Beijing. This summer, there’s a trip to Tibet on the books in August for ambitious travelers, during which they’ll trek to the Everest Base Camp.
But there’s also plenty going on in Beijing as well. On July 28, SnapAdventures will hold its second Old Beijing Scavenger Hunt, and the team here isn’t shy about throwing a themed party, either.
For instance, the organization tapped into the nerdy segment of the ex-pat population for its May the 4th Star Wars bash. Guests were encouraged to dress up as their favorite characters and show off their nerd cred by playing Star Wars trivia.
Of course, starting an event company doesn’t come without its challenges. Wong said the biggest obstacle SnapAdventures has encountered so far has been getting the word out about what they’re offering.
He said that traditional advertising such as handing out flyers and hanging posters has been less effective than using social media and word of mouth strategies. The goal is to get people excited and get them talking to their friends in the hopes that that will generate interest in what they’ve got going on.
Down the road, the group is considering branching into other cities, such as Shanghai and Guangzhou. Future excursions may include a visit to Sichuan province to see pandas, a Silk Road journey, or international trips to North Korea, India, and Russia.
“In the end, the only thing we hope for is that people will experience China and have as much fun as they wanted to,” Wong said. “It’s a shame, for example, if someone leaves before sleeping under the stars on the Great Wall, or going to Harbin for the ice and snow festival. There are so many times when people say something like ‘I wish I’d done that…’ Well, why not? And if they do it with SnapAdventures, all the better.”
Casey Hynes is a writer, editor and photographer living in Beijing, China. A 2008 graduate of Columbia Journalism School in New York City, she has been published in Roll Call, The Wall Street Journal, and numerous publications in China. You can see samples of her work and photography at caseyhynes.com.