Kate turned her passion for fitness, outdoors and mental health into a thriving tourism business

Kate Gibson Tourism Career WA
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“Tourism is the perfect industry to create your own career – there are no walls and boxes to fit in, and it’s such a diverse industry that you can make it suit your lifestyle.”

Owner/operator of The Hike Collective Kate Gibson’s inspiring and truly trailblazing journey found her wondering how she could translate a love of movement, nature and mental health into something that could benefit others.

Now her days are spent working flexibly around her young son, starting off with some kind of movement either in the gym or on the trails, followed by jumping onto her “big, hairy, audacious goal”. “As long as I do just one thing that takes me in the right direction towards achieving it, then I feel good, and the rest all unfolds naturally.”

Kate Gibson Tourism Career WA

Kate’s just one of thousands of young Western Australians working a dream career in the hospitality and tourism industry, where she leads group hikes around Perth and Western Australia to help others reconnect with themselves and nature.

Learn more about Kate’s story below, and head to our Dream Careers Hub to hear from more people like her, and how you could turn your tourism and hospitality industry dreams into a reality.

Table of contents:

How did you get into a career in tourism?

Whilst living in Germany for a few years, Kate rode dressage horses professionally, then sidestepped into working in events at a hotel where she also completed a diploma in event management. 

Kate returned to Perth (Boorloo) and due to her love of fitness, she did her Certificate III and IV in Personal Training and became a personal trainer. Kate then went on to complete a diploma in business management and started running her own successful PT business. From here, Kate’s progression into tourism was unexpected but also completely natural.

As she explains while taking us on one of The Hike Collective’s guided walks in the Perth hills, “When I was running my PT business, on weekends for my own mental and physical health, I’d go on short walks in nature – it turns out they’re called ‘hikes.’”

After a while Kate decided to start a hiking group once a month for her PT clients and family for a gold coin donation, “so we could donate some money to a mental health charity and create a safe space for movement in nature for connection and mental wellbeing.”

After a year and going from five or six friends to over a hundred people on a hike, (raising over $3,000 in the process), Kate realised she was onto something.

“​​It was very inspiring to watch what nature does to people when they’re engulfed by it… It’s not just the physical changes, but the different emotional state that people start and finish in.

“That’s not the hike that’s doing that, it’s the…triangle of movement, nature and connection with other people. We’re just so lucky that we have such a beautiful, diverse landscape that ties all that together.”

Kate Hike Collective

Kate began looking for a way to connect even more people to that feeling that she, and others, got from being on the trails. So, in 2019 she started doing some research: “I thought I was in health and fitness and everyone’s like, “No, you’re in tourism!” 

And so, Kate began upskilling in tourism to start her ‘micro-adventures’ tourism business: “It was mostly self-taught but I also attended industry workshops, forums and conferences like Social Media 101 with the Tourism Council, the Destination Australia Conference, Fundamentals of Tourism… Lots of little bits, including how to get my tourism business accreditations.”

CAREER STEPPING STONES
1.

Event Mgmt Diploma and worked in hotel

2.

PT Certificate and Business Mgmt Diploma

3.

Ran successful personal training business

4.

Upskilled via networking and courses

5.

Owns/operates award-winning hiking business

Can you tell us about the flexibility tourism affords you?

Kate wears many hats in the business and there’s no such thing as a typical day. She could be planning trails or marketing strategies, to accounting or attending industry networking events.

She’s also a single mum with a young son, so “time with him is my number one priority.”

“My hikes typically occur during the day, which I chose so I don’t have to work in the evenings. And because I run my own business, it means there is plenty of flexibility to juggle everything.”

Kate Gibson Tourism Career WA

Kate has also “built a team of people that can represent my brand and deliver that vision to our guests, which gives me freedom to not be working around the clock.”

“Likewise, I’ve put sturdy systems and processes in place so a lot of the business can be automated when I need to step away.”

Given the nature of the business and the friendly customers she works with, Kate even gets to include her son in some of the business! “He comes to work with me sometimes because the type of guests that we’re attracting on the trails are beautiful, fun and accepting of me bringing my son to work.”

Kate Gibson Tourism Career WA

What’s your piece of advice for someone considering a career in tourism?

Although Kate runs The Hike Collective on her own now, she acknowledges it took a village to raise her business baby – and the tourism industry is a seriously supportive village.

“One piece of advice is don’t do it alone,” she tells us. “The industry is the most friendly, warm-hearted and welcoming space that I’ve ever been a part of. All the parts are dependent on each other – you can work independently if you like but there’s also a lot of support to work together as an industry.”

You can take a leaf out of Kate’s book, who really kickstarted her new career after heading to an industry function and “just going up to the person that I was too scared to go up to and saying, ‘Where should I start?’”

“Be curious and ask the right questions to the right people. This will give you a spark of inspiration, and you’ll start knowing where to go next.”

Kate Gibson Tourism Career WA

Want to blaze your own trail? Head to westernaustralia.jobs/dreamcareer to explore job opportunities, career inspiration, benefits, pathways, perks, possibilities and much more.