Finding new potential in the travel industry | Business Casual

Finding new potential in the travel industry | Business Casual

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Cruising can never be sustainable. Like, let's just be real. when these ships pull into a Caribbean island has a like Anguilla, that's a population of 6000, 9000 people on the entire island, and they bring ships in seven or 8000 people on a ship and close to double that population for about 8 hours. Suddenly, if that ship comes every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, kids are no longer going to school at. Today, we are talking about all those things and the travel industry and specifically sustainable tourism with Bruce Poon Tip, who is an entrepreneur best known for founding G Adventures, a successful adventure travel company which now operates in more than 100 countries on all seven continents. And serves more than 200,000 travelers every year.

His bestselling book is titled Loop Tail How One Company Changed the World by Reinventing Business. And Bruce Poon Tip is also producer on a new documentary called The Last Tourist. Well, Bruce Scott and I were so excited to learn about G adventures. We had not heard about it before.

I think you might have obtained some new customers. We both love to travel, but before we get to the founding of the company, give us some background on what kind of travel experiences you had what was your relationship with travel like before you started it in the nineties? Oh, I mean, I'm from an immigrant family, so our first trip traveling overseas was moving to Canada, so. And I guess I don't know when I got the travel bug along the way, but you know, travel was very different in 1996, you know, how people travel, how people research travel little before the internet, before fax machines, you know, people just have an incredible short memory when it comes to when it comes to how things have changed, you know, since, you know, it started traveling. Yeah. Yeah. Travel agents, everything, everything. And you know, when you, when you wanted to learn about a destination, you went to a library.

I believe that like you can just plug pocket and read blogs and there was no internet, there was no tick tock, tick tock. So you just imagine if the only thing you knew about Africa were documentaries on television and if you wanted to actually read about more, you'd have to go to a library, sign out a book and read about it. Right. That's the only way you can research.

And if you wanted to book a trip you couldn't just, you know, open your browser or read blog user generated content or anything. You just you had to go and see a travel agent and and you know, that might be easy if you were kind of going to Florida. But imagine if you wanted to go to Africa, you want to go to Mongolia or you want. So it was much harder. Yeah. But, you know, the adventure started. You know, all those years ago with, you know, now we have trips, we have, you know, 11 brands of trips for active, for young people, for older people.

We do National Geographic journeys we have polar expeditions. And we make it easy for people to get to, you know, some of the most unique and most beautiful places in the world and have experiences in small groups. So it sounds like your travel experience were rooted in this very personal family, a moment of having to, you know, uproot and find a new place to live. And I guess it was was there a sense of place for you? Was Canada your home or do you always feel like maybe a citizen of the world? And is that what sparked your interest to just keep exploring it? Yeah, I definitely think there's a bit of that, a bit about feeling, you know, that there's, you know, you know, a global view. Like, I mean, you know, when you when you're when you move to a new country, and you realize that most of the people, you know, have never been outside of your country are outside of their country, you naturally have a global perspective.

You know, people might not naturally appreciate where you come from or why you came from another country. And, you know, back this is like the late sixties, remember late sixties, early seventies. It was a very different world then so there's a lot of ignorance.

There's a lot of you know, and when people don't know are not familiar with something, there's a lot of fear around where you come from, where. And so, yeah, so that gives you a natural kind of you might say it's it's it, you know, it's, it's a negative thing, but actually it turned out to a positive thing because we always had such a global perspective that there was more to the world outside of our community that where, you know, the small little community we were growing up in. So G Adventures is this platform for people to discover other cultures travel to other countries that they might not think to travel to in the first place. Talk to us a little bit more about the vision for G adventures, specifically as it relates to discovery where you're trying to show travelers, here's the value of this particular place that you hadn't thought of before. It's not on the usual lists of where to travel to. So how do you sort of implement that discovery mindset with the company as well? Well, the discovery side, you know, at the base where travel and holiday company, right? But there's another side of G adventures, and some, I guess, is connected to what you many people call the responsible and sustainable side of our but we call community tourism, meaning that the real our real vision as a business is that travel can be a transformational experience for anyone who touches, you know, your decision to go on holiday.

Right. Because we're traveling to some of the poorest countries in the world where we're in the we're with where we, you know, the world's most in need citizens on our planet booking luxury holidays. And we can benefit people can benefit from you being there if done right.

Travel can be can alleviate poverty. Travel can be a great source of wealth distribution, create opportunities, cultural heritage, preservation, all of these things that travel can be a transformational experience. And our industry can be a transformative industry if we embrace the right way to travel. And so, yeah, at the base of what we do is being a holiday company and showing people some amazing parts of the world there and, you know, and creating experiences for people to have a cultural excursion. But traditionally, I think travel has been a one way experience. You pay for something and expect service, and so you go with a mindset to take.

And what we do with the adventures is to make that journey, you know, a two way experience where everyone shares in your decision to go on holidays and everyone benefits. We're going to talk more about that community tourism idea when we get into the last tourist documentary, which you're a part of. But I want to get back to this founding moment because, you know, this is a business podcast first and foremost.

And this is a company that you started. You noticed something was missing in the travel tourism industry, so you decided to start your ventures. How did you how did you do it? How did you finance the company? What was your strategy starting out? Who did you have supporting you? You were 24 years old. I mean, this is a big this is a big deal for young man. Well, it started when I was 21.

Well, how far do you want to go back exactly? Well, I mean, you know, you just get. Into like really, you know, want to give people some actual advice here. If they want to get inspired by your story, you know, how can they get going themselves? Well, for me, my eureka moment was when I decided I wanted to go travel right? So I decided I wanted to go travel for myself. And there was nothing available that wasn't like mass tourism. Like there's massive compound resorts, cruises, massive coach tours where someone you know, where you have a Western guide with a microphone in the front of a bus, you know, and the only other option is backpacking. So backpacking was really established back then with guidebooks where you'd get a guidebook because no apps remember that, you know, you get a guidebook and you go and do it yourself.

And so, you know, I wanted to bridge that space between that mainstream travel and that backpacker because the backpacker was a pretty rough experience. $10 a day, staying in hostels, doing everything yourself. Who has that kind of time? All the delays, all the orders. It's a lot of work, but what's worth that space in between? And that was my business moment where saying that when I want to travel, I end up going backpacking but I really don't want to do that. I didn't want all the hassle.

I didn't want to organize all this everything myself. I didn't want that social pressure of meeting people along the way and all that, you know, traveling people for a few days and then, you know, finding new people to travel with. And and so I saw all these young people in limbo, you know, all these people in limbo that had no options. So they were just forced to go travel on their own.

And I said, there's there's a market. There's that's my eureka moment, that there's there's this space between the mainstream traveler and the backpacker where people want a grassroots experience, want a cultural exchange, want to want to meet local people, don't want to stay in, you know, chain hotels and they want a local experience, but they want to organize and they want to meet other people that they can travel with. And that's that was the moment. You saw the need in the market you had this idea, you had this eureka moment.

How does that turn into the first trip for adventures? And walk us through how that happened. Yeah. So I got home and I built my first itinerary. I built two I built three itineraries to South America, one to Venezuela, one to Galapagos Islands and one to Ecuador. So those are my four, Belize two. So

Galapagos and Ecuador are the same country. So that's just one itinerary. But the third one was Belize. I built these itineraries that I that were really cool, like going to the Amazon tribes and staying overnight with Amazon tribes and staying in monasteries where we would, you know, there was no accommodations. We were going to sleep in a monastery on the floor with a mat and a sleeping bag in the hills, in the mountains, really, you know, hiking through in Belize, hiking through, you know, mangroves. And and I actually I made this promise and realized when I got down to Belize with Everest group, we are getting ready for our first groups that didn't exist in Belize and then by Kayak in Mexico and drive them down myself and had the first kayaks in Belize.

But I just thought I was going to and then our first group group got arrested because because kayaks were legal like they weren't being registered as flotation devices in Belize. So our first group got detained. But just for a moment. Just for a moment, right. Yeah.

What's the story, though, to tell when they get back from their travels? And so anyways, so I build these itineraries and then, you know, when you're doing something so revolutionary in terms of a trip, like I couldn't I couldn't advertise because when you advertise in a newspaper or magazine, they say tours to Thailand or tours to wherever, people have a vision of what a tour is. Right. The Invasion Bus, Best Western Hotel, air conditioned you know, coaches that, you know, someone rocking the mic on the front telling you everything that you're seeing, you know, the the follow the flag to the museum kind of that's a tour so I had to get in front of people. I never had the benefit to just do traditional marketing. And this is before there was kind of digital marketing. So I went out and I started just doing and speak anywhere that anyone would have me.

I used to go to colleges and schools. I saw outdoor stores like there was one outdoor store in Toronto where I lived where I had a standing every Wednesday night travel talk. But I would go and just stand in the shoe department and people would come and there would be a sale on Solomon Shoes. And Bruce Puente was going to talk about Ecuador, and I did that every Wednesday. I had people do private parties in their basement like they'd invite all their friends over and I'd go and speak to and I got in front of schools and classes and I was talking about this revolutionary brand new way to travel where it's organized like almost like organized backpacking, but comfortable and, you know, grassroots. And I got my first people to commit to this in our first two groups were seven passengers and six passengers who, you know, paid money, paid me real money to for me, to take them on these tours.

Now I have to deliver the tour. That's a whole other story because it was easy to kind of build the itinerary, get in front of people and sell it. And now I have to actually figure out how to operate it. And remember, like back then, if I wanted to make a hotel reservation for a group, I had to do it by mail. Can you imagine? There's no there's no email. So I have to email the hotel and say I need a reservation on these days, they email me back the confirmation or not email, they mail me back the confirmation.

I mail them back a check with a deposit at International International check. And then they email me back the confirmation and I'm not bringing new customers. So they. Mail me mail. So ingrained in our. Yeah, but yeah. Snail mail.

And I'm not bringing people back. I'm not bringing people there for like six months, eight months, but I'm emailing and mailing back email. Like I said, I started to get mail, mailing back, reservation back and forth and think about that on any tour there could be ten hotels right and then and then you'd have transport company to pick people of the airport. That's all done by mail because there's no you wouldn't even think you guys, you need to born then fax.

Or phone. You was no faxes. Faxes didn't come until the till much later faxes were available in North America. But I'm talking about Eckard Nash didn't exist. Yeah. Got it. And the big thing about a fax is the other person has to have one has.

The right. You have to fax to somebody else. So everything is done by mail.

Yeah. Sounds like it sounds like you were like, you know on on a stump speech campaigning for office like doing these small little parties and try to convince people, like, this is my platform. But you know what? It's the, the business case for this and the business case store. And I love this interview because I rarely get I always talk about travel so much, but the business case you know, I also figured out how to do something that couldn't be done overcoming an operational challenge like how I described by mail no one had ever done but was able to do that before. And and also communicate with these small experiences like like the Amazon tribe which I still we still sell today the same as if you saw the last tourist dolphin who opens the documentary. He was the guy I met, and he ran our first tour in Ecuador visiting his tribe in the Amazon.

So it's like and if you if you're bringing it into the in a big scale, it's like Dell, right? Dell, what they figured out was manufacturing, right? They figured out how to do something better, cheaper and, you know, and created a better experience for their customers and they didn't, you know, and that's how his idea was an operational one. He didn't invent the computer. He didn't invent it. He didn't make computers faster.

He didn't make computers better. He operationally and so there's there's both of those things with my story because operationally I figured out all of those things. And as the fax machine came available, like originally we had the telex, then the fax machine. And then when the Internet and email came, I just it just it just that the world just opened for me.

And the fact that you started back pre-Internet gave you that first mover advantage, as they say in the business world, because you had been you establish these networks, you had met you met your friends in the Amazon, you had these tours, you learn from your mistakes, you you learn the kayaking lesson, right? So people came along post Internet and it all started travel company. But you had your you had your base of customers. And let me ask you, do you have repeat customers and how has this expanded and evolved over the past three decades? You have people that you you serviced in the nineties who are now maybe in their twenties back then and in their fifties and sixties. Well, I will tell you a story like we just did, the premier of the last tourist in Toronto here, and we had a woman in the audience who's taken 47 tours with us. Wow.

And she was on a tour in our first year in 1999. She wasn't on the very first tour, I think she was on the second or third tour, and she came to the audit as a matter of fact, she wasn't from Toronto, but she came to Toronto and she stayed at my house overnight. And so I said to the audience, it's an incentive. If you take 47 trips you become, you can come and stay at my house. That's good.

Because I know. That's not for. You to cook her breakfast. If you take 47 trips, that's, that's the benefit. We have a VIP program, you can then come and stay at my house. It's so interesting because so much of the early days it was arduous for you. You were doing a lot of the labor and you were going in person to these locations to get your customers. And then there's this explosion of like you said, there's emails, there's technology, there's the Internet, and then you have digital marketing.

So in terms of finding new customers, social, exactly how did that help you scale? How did you even navigate the change in how to just reach new customers? Yeah, you know, I always I always tell well, anyone who in terms of the business case for for our success, the world changed in our favor in every way. Right? Even the mid nineties where we started to live more socially responsible, when we started to recycle at home, when we started to have values in organic food and low flush toilets, and, you know, low watt light bulbs, all these kind of things. Travel. Yeah, yeah. And in a kind of an eco tourism raised its, you know, you know, had for the first time in the late nineties, Al Gore came and created sustainable tourism with climate change and environment. All of those things made people conscious of travel.

Prior to that, you lived a certain way at home and if you're another country, you spend all those beliefs. I don't have to, you know, I'm just in another country and I spent all my values. And just because I'm on vacation, it's that is this is a whole mindset of, you know, of a one way experience for travel.

I'm paying, you know, a huge amount of money in this country. And I demand Western services. I want all the comforts of home. You know, that's when you're selling amenities like thread counts on sheets.

And the whole concept of Oman hotels is it's the exact same commoditized experience that every country I know McDonald's. Go McDonald's approach. Exactly. And people just want their luxuries. They don't want to feel like they left home, which I think is the weirdest thing.

And I've got to say, in our first brochure, we said, if you want the comforts of home, we suggest you stay at home. Wow. Why would you think of going on holiday like. Right. It's counterintuitive.

And if you've come on one of our trips and you feel like, you know, you feel like you're at home, we'll give you your money back, it's 100% hundred percent guarantee. I love that. You're absolutely not at home because. Every every other tour operator at that time, their mandate was to make you feel like you never left home.

It was all the comforts, the fact that you know, you're going to be OK to have Italian food and Japanese food is going to be ten restaurants. You're not going to have to give up your, you know, your aggressive foodie habits you're going to have you're going to Broadway shows, indoor surfing. You're going to have, you know, gyms and you're going to have, you know, so we're going to be you know, it became amenities and it's dangerous because the destination no longer was important. Right? The destination no longer relevant. And when you get there, it's not travel anymore. Let's just call it something else.

So, Bruce, we're talking about socially responsible, community focused tourism now, which is a value that is at the heart of G adventures. Again, to give some context to our listeners, what is an example of tourism that isn't socially responsible and what does it mean to practice sustainable tourism? What does actually look like to the communities that participate? Well, that's that's a moving goalpost. At the moment.

But, you know, cruising can never be sustainable. Let's like let's just be real. It's a massive multibillion dollar industry that takes people on these massive steel tin cans in the ocean. They dump. All the dumping is coming to the forefront right now, all the dumping of these ships, water issues, the food and so just that's just the environmental impact.

But let's just talk about the cultural impact. When these ships pull into a Caribbean island, has a like Anguilla has a population of 6000, 9000 people on the entire island, and they bring ships in seven or 8000 people on a ship and close to double that population for about 8 hours and spend like could spend up to $100,000 in that you know, in that period of time. Suddenly, if that ship comes every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, kids are no longer going to school.

Right. So the cultural impact is immeasurable, right? Because now when more ships come, they're not going. Now they're making crafts all week. To kind of serve customers. And everyone's trying to get their piece of that 100 grand that you're going to that group is going to spend in that eight hour period and that massive impact on that community is, you know, so how are you? There's so many ways in which you can define sustainability. Right.

And so what does the cruise industry do they start buying ports. And this is what's featured in in the last tour. They now buy ports where they actually now want to control the shopping. Even.

So, all those when you get off a port on a cruise ship, the cruise company owns that port. All of those stores, they own those stores. So when you're buying the you know, you can't go back and come back from holiday without that baseball cap with built in dreadlocks. Everyone needs it that Sylvania. So

but that but now you buy it at the port where they're getting all the money's coming back to the ship. Everyone's motivated to keep them all the restaurants you eat out you think you're eating at Senor Frogs but that's a franchise that's bought by that and owned by the cruise ship and that port. So you really never visited that country to see you actually visited the country and you see you met a local and that's like someone's being paid, you know, less than minimum wage to work. It's in your France. Hardly a local at that stage, right? So that that's one thing. But let's talk about compound resorts, the all inclusive compound resorts where they condition you to believe don't go outside these gates because the natives are restless and of course they're restless because they're not benefiting from you being there.

You are living in the lap of luxury consuming massive amounts of natural resources that don't exist on that island and just outside those walls. They don't have access to clean drinking water and medical care. You would be restless, too, and so those two things are just two examples of not not they're not sustainable and they're growing because those companies are now motivated more than ever, building new building bigger. Two ships released this week, the biggest ever.

The biggest ever. More and more. More services because bigger means more amenities, right? Because now we can have you know, more pools, more slimmer bars, more a better entertainment like that. Now, there's, you know, live shows with Gwyneth Paltrow's on there talking about Goop she's giving you left tips. Come in.

And I'm not kidding that that's actually happening. This there's an Alaskan cruise that's featured. There's the Alaskan cruise that's featured on all of our tourists that took a deck and made a go kart track.

So you can so if you have an aggressive go cart hobby, you don't have to give it up while you're cruising in Alaska. They've got a whole go cart track for entertainment. I thought shuffleboard was enough. But it seems environmentally friendly. At least I hope so. Nineties. So I still think I like the shuffleboard.

So your average environment, your average traveler probably doesn't think about all of these things, all of these layers of impact to to local economies, to the environment. But but I think that's the reason why you came up with this ripple score. Yeah, if, if if I'm. Yeah, if we can talk about that, you know, how did you come up with an and how do you get people to care and be aware? Well, first of all, that that's the reason for the document. You have to show people you when you were younger and you guys are younger. So maybe last Wednesday, you know, you were doing something so ridiculous.

Sometimes you know, you're doing something. It's so ridiculous in the middle of you say like, this is really crazy, like why am I doing this? You know, you're but you need someone there. There's some point where there's an awakening where you say you know, you find yourself in a bank machine at 4 a.m., you know, nothing is good is going to happen. And so you see your friend, you realize, you know what, I think it's best that I just cut bait here and go home.

So you kind of disappear from your friends because this night is just not going to end well. This is the same thing about travel. Like, people do these things. Like the thing about the last tourist is, you know, it's interesting, but there's nothing there's nothing that's that people are learning.

It's all there. Like animal welfare for instance, the fact that the number one rising tourist attraction is dolphin encounters, the fact that you want to swim in a pool with a dolphin and pet it. And, you know, that it's cruel to the animal and you know that you would everyone knows that hundreds of dolphins have to dove to tame that one dolphin to sit docile while you pet it everyone knows that.

But when you actually show it to them, you realize that it's kind of weird. Like I said, it's not worth it. You know, I love animals.

Like, the reason I book this is because I love animals. You don't book a dolphin encounter because you hate animals. You actually so it's this conundrum because you actually the people who are actually doing these things are the people that actually love the animals, like they actually.

And so you're just showing people, you know, and once you put it in front of them, they realize, you know, that's you you know, outperforming them at the magazine, you say, you know, geez, this is not a good idea. You're you're putting in front of people with it with the documentary. But you're also trying to remove this this mental calculation that it takes for the average person where they don't want to have to think about the impacts necessarily. So. So how did you come up with that ripple school score? Tell us a little bit more about that. Little ripple score is a little different. It's about gauging your how much of your money is staying in the local economy.

This is the best thing you can do for sustainable tourism. The fact that, you know, you're not you're not eating at restaurants that are owned by a cruise ship or a resort. You're actually, you know, making sure that all of the services that you're paying for while you're in another country are helping local people. So when you go to a restaurant, when you book a taxi, when you are you want a guide for the day, you want to do an excursion. When you're there, you're spending money and you're you're putting money into the economy. Right? So the rip of core was a labor of love for us for like five years to find a way that we could create the behaviors within our organization when it comes to buying by asking questions at the time of buying, who owns your hotel who manages your hotel? Where are these people from? Is and are you hiring management that's within a 25 kilometer radius of your business.

Or you're bringing people in from other countries. Is this German owned? Is it American, and is that money staying in the economy? And it's funny because when we open this can of worms we realize all kinds of things like we were using a train to Machu Picchu. It's the number one expense. It's expensive.

It's 400 USD. 2050. You have to take a train to meet you. It's Spanish.

Owned, it's owned by a Spanish company. All the management is brought in from overseas. It gets a zero on the repo score and it and so but we want people to identify that and know where their money is. So so once we decided to open that can of worms, we found out so many of our hotels were American homes and, and foreign owned they're employees and their management is are not from locally and and so and also then when you start asking where they buy their food like a lot of these hotels if they're chains they buy everything from you know you know to store the ships and the resorts and everything, they buy them and they ship stuff in so they're not even benefiting from what you're eating because that all that stuff what you're drinking, you know, liquor that comes in, it's all brought in and and consolidated and bought globally and then brought into this for your customers. So asking all those questions and giving it a score of how much of your money to run your tour actually stays in the economy.

And we give a calculated score and every trip there's a percentage of the money that stays in the economy. So then is there is there an alternative to that train to Machu Picchu that you take your travel is on? Or are there ways to get around these? Thank you for asking that question. Actually, that's a great one because so this is the idea of changing behaviors.

I didn't think there was. We were just willing to accept it. But as long as we acknowledge it and we tell our customers that's just the way it is, we still have to get to much. But you are taking this train. But where I identify. But then we found out there's another train that only has a few cars and it's called so it's Peru. Rail is the big one owned by the Spanish.

There's another one called A.M. And it's really rough and ready local people putting their pigs and chickens to the market, you know, carrying all their stuff and it's a really rough train. And we found and we we we did.

We cut a deal with Inca rail. It can't take care of all of our passengers. And it's really, you know, you can't take some of our nasties you graphic passengers or some of our but a lot of our younger passengers now we use Ikaria and it's all owned locally, all local people. You know, you're you're in there with pigs and chickens and people. And it's a it's quite an experience when you go into the A.M. car, they don't have they don't have a lot of cars for sure for service.

So it can't work for all of our programs. But it created that behavior for us to look at another option. I have been doing tours in Peru for 30 years. I didn't even know Inca really existed until the Ripple Scorcese. Our behavior as a company.

So much legwork and research required for you to even find these alternatives. Talk to us a little bit more about how you're how your team is structured. How do you hire people who you trust, who can sort of help you so you don't have to research every single piece of every single trip yourself? Well, that's I mean, that's another big question. Hiring people is another secret to success in business, right? Like how you recruit and the type of people like, you know, culture fit.

Like, our culture is our brand and building building people that are purpose driven because our business is really purpose driven. And people who look at their work as more of a calling as opposed to, you know, some people work to live, you know, and I want and I like people that, you know, live to work that they want to they want to they want to be part of something bigger than themselves. Something greater than themselves.

And there those those people are hard to find. So but in terms of what you're saying, we have buyers that are out in the field that deal with on the ground that buy transportation, hotels, negotiate with all of the local experience operators, farms that we take people to or, you know, and and those are and that's it. And then we have operations people to build tours and product people that actually look at how to put these things together.

And then we have a whole other team that's on that that creates the content to show them to people. Right. So it's it's quite a process before it gets into a brochure because once you create all that content you copywriters write everything about how great the experience is. It then makes it into a brochure and then it gets turned over to the marketing people. And then we have traditional brand and digital marketers who kind of take it out to the world. You've been talking about this documentary, The Last Tourist, on which you're a producer, Bruce.

How did you become involved with this production and how does it connect to your work at G Adventures, and what do you want viewers to take away from watching it? Well, first, my connection is I pay for it. That's my I'm I'm the sugar daddy. So that's. Yeah. So let's just say that.

Yeah, yeah. So let's just so five years ago, this this film has just been such a labor of love. We decided internally, but let's do a documentary.

And we thought like a short but let's tell our story because iPhones are so great. Let's send our content people out to build a documentary. Just of all of the stories, all the people that run our trips. And you know, how many people that we lift out of poverty every day because of tourism and that's build that.

And so that's how it started and then from that, we said, okay, well, let's you know, it's actually a big idea and let's hire a director. So we found a director that can externally kind of put the ideas together and then we started building the content and realizing this is can be a huge story and then the big decision. But it has to be independent.

It's not a story about your adventures. Let's create an independent documentary. Will I funded I'll be the executive producer so I can, but I've got to give it full creative independence and no mention of G adventures at any point. It can't be a Dude Ventures commercial.

Let's make a real documentary. And I said, it's going to cost this. And after I pick myself up off the floor, I said, OK, but of course it costs three times that in the end because it took five years.

We went through COVID, we had, you know, cancelation of film festivals. We changed the film multiple times, change producers, but it was just one director who was passionate about it, really kind of put it all together and it became it took on a whole life of its own and was so removed because I suddenly became a cast member because I, you know, I am in the film talking about the tourism industry, but it's not about selling adventure trade. It's more about talking about the bigger story of and it's a positive message is a message of hope and peace. The travel can be the greatest form of wealth distribution that the world has ever seen. The $10 trillion industry and we're going to the 40 poorest countries in the world.

So your idea of going on holiday can transform lives if we can get there. But instead right now it's just it's we're taking from the disadvantaged, the marginalized, the way mainstream tourism works right now. And by the way, Bruce, what the documentary also explores is in this moment, post-COVID, when travel was completely disrupted and shut down for a while, we have a chance as a society, as a civilization to start tourism anew right from this new level field, like you said, with bringing these values in that have just come up in the last few decades and really building that into the new foundation of travel and tourism for the future. That's a key point.

I mean, I look at the travel industry right now as the biggest startup in the world. I mean, we have all with COVID shutting our industry down to nothing like the world shut down in a matter of days and just shut travel right down. So we've all had two years now to rethink our businesses and we and then we're still at that moment where we kind of look back and said the travel was getting kind of ridiculous. I mean, they had just put a go cart track on a cruise ship, if that's not the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. And there was this constant battle but now here we are as an industry, we have the opportunity to rethink everything and be a startup.

Are we going to take advantage of this? Because the consumer is also going to change. By the way, and that's what's driving that change. Bruce, we started touching on some of the changes from the pandemic and how people think about travel and what people's priorities are what do you think are going to be some of the lasting changes as far as what people care about, what people are focusing on, and demand for where and how people do want to travel? Well, it's all about demanding or people being more connected to where they're going. That's the most important thing.

And and, you know, when when you're when as an industry, if we're going to sell people amenities and you know, as I said before, the destinations now are relevant because you're booking because of, you know, thread counts on sheets. Now, what we need and the change that we're going to we're going to see is that people be more purposeful on why they want to travel because I think we've all established now the corona is not going away. You know, we all have to learn to live with it now. So there's going to be inherent risk to travel in the future. Like there's just inherent risk.

A crew is not going away and it's not. But we're all kind of rolling the world open now and people are going to travel. And so if you're if you're going to travel, it has to be important to you.

So so that's I think it's the best thing that could ever happen to tourism because if it's important to you, you're going to be more purposeful in where you go, why you go and why you want to travel. How has the industry recovered in the last year? I guess since since the shutdowns, the lockdowns, things are opening back up. Are you seeing more uptick in business? Are people coming back to adventures now? Yeah. I mean, we like like I mean, there's been there's been two starts.

I mean, we we it started really last September, October, where business was really doing really well. And then Omicron hit and really devastated the industry again. But now we're seeing like a real strong upswing. And it's by market. We're a global company like North America is back full.

Canada and the United States, you know, Britain and Europe was was doing well. But then Ukraine has really put everyone on a kind of a wait and see kind of and Australia's very slow, very slow coming back. Because they've been the strictest on on COVID precautions. So.

Yeah, they were completely lockdown Australia was almost completely lockdown for two years. You couldn't leave. It was like a country prison.

Australia was a country prison for two years. No one can leave or come on under any circumstances. It wasn't like if you're vaccinated or if you're you know, it was. And so they're they're slowly there and they are. And during that time they changed to the country because they got really, really developed with with domestic. So a lot of people are doing domestic in Australia now because Russia is a huge, beautiful country.

There's a lot there so need. But I need people, they want to get out of that country any time soon. I needed to start back up.

Bruce, just to sort of wrap this up for our listeners who do want to be more conscious travelers and they could be a little bit overwhelming when you're trying to consider all of these factors. What are some of the steps they can take? The number maybe the number one thing you can do to just be a better traveler of the world. Everything has to do with just being more conscious, asking more questions.

It's all there. And this is the same thing about the last tours. We're just showing you what's always been there and you know it, everyone knows it.

And this is the same thing about just being more aware. And what you can do is if everyone can understand one thing, the privilege that you have to travel, OK, it is the change of the mind. It's a mindset change because you know there's the privilege that you have to travel. You're one of the very few people on this planet that can choose to travel because you have the income, you have the time. You can get someone to watch your dog, watch your kids that you have.

It's such a privilege and so few people on this planet have that privilege to say, you know what, I want to go on vacation. So that mindset that travel is a privilege and not your right is the single best thing that you can do with everything you do. When you decide to travel, you have no right to travel. It's a privilege that you have the opportunity to travel internationally, see other countries grow your mind, you know, have these amazing experiences and come home and be richer for it and appreciate where you come from by experiencing how other people live in the world.

That is a privilege, but too many people think it's their right that if I buy this holiday, I buy this luxury resort. I go down there and I demand service because I paid for this. I paid for these amenities. And, you know, you go with that mindset. You serve me and it's my right.

If enough people just changed me, that mindset that travel is a privilege. And and then when you decide to when you once you make that switch, when you book travel, it's just about asking questions. The number one thing is just asking questions. If you if you phone, you know, and there's you know, it's all there when you decide to book a hotel like choose a local hotel, the Internet's there.

There's tons of so many user generated reviews and blogs and everything. Yelp for restaurants, make sure it's all just local just take that extra second to make sure even if you're going to book an with AP like this, find out who owns the country, where's the money? Go to ask the person on the phone. They have to be able to tell you they send you to a website, pages deep dark to find.

Oh, that will tell you a single part. It's probably not important to that company, right? Everyone and everyone should know it. Even someone who's answering the phone to make your reservation.

If a company is doing great things, everyone in the company very well knows it and they make sure it's at the forefront. But if the person on the phone says, you know, I don't really know who owns the company and I know where the money goes, we have a page on our website. You can go read about, you know, what we do.

We have you know, it's not a good sign. You just have to ask questions. If you like what you saw and you like what you heard, you can listen to the entire episode of this podcast Business Casual, anywhere you get your podcasts. And please go ahead and subscribe to the Morning Brew YouTube channel and go ahead and click on that alarm bell. That thing right there so you can be alerted any time there's a new video.

2022-05-16 16:57

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