Travel is powerful and everyone in the industry can do their bit to influence travellers to make informed and sustainable choices about the way they travel and the people and places they visit.
We’re asking retail consultants and marketers to help drive the change: don’t wait until suppliers offer information on their sustainable travel policy, ask for it. From everyone. The more conversations had on this topic, the more changes can be made in every sector of the travel industry.
Imagine the effect on suppliers if every rep came back to head office and reported that agents were asking about their sustainability policy. ‘What is it? Do we have one? What do we do?’ Businesses will reflect on their own practices and will start making changes. However small these may be at first, they will evolve over time until it is no longer unique to be sustainable, but standard.
Latin America and Polar specialists, Chimu Adventures, have never been afraid to push a few boundaries when it comes to selling niche product and giving back to good causes. Cast your mind to the early 2000’s and picture a boat race in London. Over a few beers, Australian friends and seasoned travellers Chad Carey and Greg Carter are discussing their shared passion for all things Latin American, yet an equal frustration for the inflexibility and lack of value in the travel modes available. They are compelled to do something about it and a lot of furious scribbling on beer mats ensues. Back on Australian soil in 2004 and armed with a third-hand laptop in Chad’s lounge, Chimu Adventures is born. Chad and Greg reflect: “We wanted to bring a product to the travel industry that didn’t pigeonhole the traveller into a set itinerary. Our aim was to offer exciting Latin America options based on first-hand knowledge, combined with flexibility to suit the traveller’s needs.”
Humble beginnings working day jobs and building the business by night have seen Chad and Greg transform Chimu into a AUD$40m enterprise which has given thousands of traveller’s experiences perhaps they only ever perceived as a dream. Think about facing the Drake Passage en route to Antarctica; catching a glimpse of a polar bear in the Arctic; feeling the chill of Patagonia’s icy winds; trekking the ancient soil of the Inca Trail or stargazing in the clearest night skies on Earth in the Atacama Desert. Experiences in destinations seen as just too off the beaten track and ‘out there’ to ever be feasible.
And the best part? Chimu have donated over half a million dollars to multiple charities in the process. Sustainability was always part of the business plan and during the first few years, Chad and Greg gave more money to charity than they ever put in their own pockets. Recognising where support was needed in the areas in which they operate, Chimu established their own not-for-profit M.A.D Project which has facilitation in mind. It is a place where those who want to contribute to challenged communities, the environment and historical preservation can come knowing that each project within M.A.D has been researched thoroughly for its ethical and moral outcomes.
Chimu have proven that by talking about niche products you can sell them, make a profit and give back. We really want to see more of this in the industry. In August, Chimu and KARRYON collided in an unstoppable collaboration and shared vision to Travel to Change the World; the Revolution Roadshow was born.
Audiences in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne witnessed a roadshow like no other as we challenged the mainstream mindset. Travel agents and industry marketers united for an educational afternoon of insights and tools to help change the conversations they have with their clients for the better, forever. We want the travel industry to send more travellers on unique journeys which not only have high profit margins, but are ethical and sustainable. Attendees at the Revolution Roadshow heard from Chimu and KARRYON’s founders as they revealed the foundations of their niche businesses, what worked, what didn’t and how they maintained impressive profits while giving back to the planet along the way. We distributed marketing insights, looked at case studies and listened to incredible guest speakers on subjects such as understanding your customer, making your business future ready, finding your purpose and empowering yourself and your clients to travel with more care. We like to think it was quite the success!
This was the beginning of the Travel Revolution, but the conversation doesn’t stop here. Our mantra is that sustainable travel should no longer be a unique selling point, it should be standard. However, it isn’t easy being green! We are by no means perfect and we acknowledge that is is hard to know where to start with a topic like this. Our Travel Revolution page has plenty of resources for our agents: a marketing pack, library of reading, media links and video content which can be used to educate yourself and your clients.
Travel industry professionals, it’s time to talk to the travellers you want to talk to, sell the packages you want to sell and time to give back to the planet we live in. It is time to start a Travel Revolution!