Bound Round Travel Guides Put Kids In The Driving Seat

9 June 2015

Bound Round is a platform for ‘by kids for kids travel content’. Genius, right? Bound Round’s travel guides use video, journals and interactive maps to help kids explore all the fun, relevant ‘kid stuff’ to do on holiday. Want to know how to get backstage at the Sydney Opera House? Ask the kids who’ve been!

We chatted to Janeece Keller, founder and CEO of Bound Round; she says she’s got the “Best job in the world!” Although, Janeece admits through Bound Round she’s had the pleasure of meeting a bunch of people with super-interesting professions like zoo keepers and park rangers.

 Janeece on the job

Read our interview below with Janeece to find out more about the Bound Round phenomenon.

Where are you based?

Bound Round is based in Sydney.

What’s your professional background? How did the Bound Round idea come about?

This is so far from where I started my career, my background is in corporate. I’ve spend the last 16 years working in corporate business and marketing. I finished a masters degree in journalism about three years ago, thinking I would go into something in the storytelling / creative writing space. Not long after I finished the degree, I was travelling back to Sydney from the UK, and there were three kids from Manchester sitting in the row next to me and by the time we landed in Sydney they were super frustrated because they’d been asking a bunch of questions: how many giraffes are there at the zoo? Where can we get ice-cream? What are we going to do? They really wanted to know what Sydney was going to be like – stuff that was interesting to them, not just the parents. Kids aren’t interested in where to get a good pinot noir! They’re interested in what’s going to be cool and fun where they’re going. So by the time we got off the plane in Sydney they’re thinking it’s going to be boring and want to go home. No child should arrive in Sydney and think that Manchester is more interesting of a city!

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Do you have kids?

No kids of my own, yet. I’m a very proud Aunty and the oldest of 15 cousins! I spend a lot of time with other people’s children. I’m the only one in our team (other than our juniors) that doesn’t have kids. Bound Round is my baby and my business.

How big is the team, how many people are working for Bound Round now?

It’s grown from my dining room table with me one junior part-timer. Now we are a team of seven. But we still work from a home office. We do everything we can to ensure out content is not only ‘by kids for kids’ but also affordable for our commercial partners. We stay true to what we believe in; harnessing the power of kids and using their language to relate to their peers and tell their stories.

I love how honest kids are; they're less inclined to lie to you when you ask them what they think...

It’s so true. When we say, “what do you give it out of 10?” I don’t think we’ve ever had less than a six. We get a lot of sevens and eights, a few nines and 10s and we’ve had a few more ‘11s’ than I would have thought, and they always follow it up with a why they gave it an 11 (like if the ice-cream was really great).

How does it work? How do kids get involved?

It can work one of two ways: you can sign up to be a Bound Round reporter directly on our website or you can create a user profile and start creating your own content which we then edit and review and put in to the app. We’ve got a number of kids who do the latter, they have stories they want to tell and love to shoot video themselves. For example we had Maya and Archer who went to the Daintree Rainforest last school holidays, they sent us back a bunch of footage that we then edited together and loaded up. The reporter way is when we work with kids on location. A tourism board or a large property (e.g. Dreamworld or Taronga Zoo) will get in touch and say we’d like a ’through the eyes of kid’ video done, so we then work with local kids in that area and recruit them to come and film their day at the attraction. We give them a camera and we have a camera, so we get footage from both perspectives, and then we edit that together.

How do you find the local kids?

We’ve partnered with a number of drama schools, so you know they’re kids who want to be in front of the camera. One of our kids in Cairns reached out to us – I was so impressed – he applied directly on Facebook with this reel and a pitch to be a Bound Round kid. He’s 14 and he wants to be a TV presenter. We’ve shot a bunch of stuff in Cairns with him, and he and his family recently went to New Zealand and took a bunch of footage that we then used too. As we get bigger we get more kids coming directly to us. They see the success of YouTube stars and reality TV stars and they want a piece of the action! It’s an opportunity for them to practise in a super safe environment.

Pretty exciting about the Virgin Australia partnership...

Yes, we’ve got content in-flight with Virgin Australia and that’s ongoing until after Christmas this year.

How many videos do you have now?

That’s a good question – last count was 400 and something, so I would say over 500 now at a guess. A lot of that is user generated, that we edit together.

Do you get to do much travel yourself?

Yes, I took 132 flights last year!

Wow, I’d love your air miles!

[Laughs] You know what, when they’re all earned on Jetstar red-eye flights, it’s probably not nearly as glamorous as it sounds!

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What’s next for Bound Round?

We’re really keen to cover regional Australia for the rest of this year. For us it’s about reaching out to kids in regional and rural Australia to help them share their stories as to what’s great to do in their regions. Particularly what’s good along popular road-trip routes. We want to cover all big holiday destinations for Australian families – more content for the Sunshine Coast, Uluru, Margaret River and Bunbury, the east coast drive between Sydney and Brisbane, regional centres such as Tamworth and Longreach. Then, next year, we’re going to focus on international travels too.

You can watch Bound Round videos on Virgin Australia’s in-flight entertainment system or directly through the website or app. Follow Bound Round on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

Rachel Surgeoner

A self-confessed 'food-tourist', I take hunting for the world's greatest sandwich very seriously, my quest has taken me from Berlin to Hoboken. Stopping off only for vintage shopping, craft beers and Mediterranean sunsets.