Dear Agency Partner
This week my theme to many of you on our Live with Five calls was singular… you matter! I wanted to share where that came from. On an early call Monday, Paul Dorgan, our VP of sales, who many of you know, said that I seemed off. This man is a teacher to me who can read me like a book. He wasn’t wrong. I shared with him that I was angry; furious, in fact. More, in fact, than I have been in 10 years. Yet I wasn’t angry at the current situation, though that could be justified.
You see, this week, I was told a story from our nonprofit partner in Peru, Awamaki, an active project for the Spirit of Big Five Foundation and GIB 5.0 that empowers women in the Andes, providing $4 in income for $1 of donation, which allows them the right to earn a wage that supports their family. It also teaches entrepreneurship through weaving. As tourism has come to a grinding halt, so too has the community building efforts of our organization and many others like us as those grants are all derived from tourism. We keep hearing about the fallout, however, I wanted to put a face to it this time.
This is the story of Ciprina from the Kelcancha community, one of the weaving communities our foundation supports. Her youngest son was in school which had closed. As any mother would, she would get to her son no matter what. Her husband lost his job working for the Inca Trail and she has no weaving work at present from any of the buyers in Lima. They are not eligible yet for the government allowance to get food, and it has been raining too much for them to dig food out of the ground. With no food and no transport, Ciprina left her village at 12 pm on March 15 on foot to get her son and bring him home. She reached her son after 7 am the next morning, after getting transport for a small portion of the trip to Ollanta.
Every action we take as sustainable companies is with purpose… to provide a bright light for people like Ciprina. She represents the face of this struggle. In the middle of all this struggle, I wanted all our agency partners to know that you matter. What you have been going through and the actions you have taken to bring all your clients home has been nothing short of herculean.
Times like these tend to bring out the best and, sadly, the worst in people. I want you, when dealing with the latter, to remember Ciprina. There is an end in sight for us, and we represent hope for her and countless more like her. So on your darkest day, please remember, you matter.
Stay safe, stay strong.
In 2016, the WTTC predicted that the travel industry would make up 30% of the work force globally. Currently, one out of every five jobs globally is tourism related, up from one in six In 2014 and one in ten earlier in the decade. Tourism done right changes worlds. Without it, a vacuum forms immediately. This week, a camp I have loved for a long time in the Masai Mara in Kenya closed. The owner, my friend, wrote a really beautiful farewell letter and was brutally honest about what happens without the sustainable tourism his camp promoted. The staff will be impoverished within a few days, which means they will return to trapping animals for food, which will invariably include endangered animals. Poaching will increase as it did after the Ebola crisis because this is the only industry in Africa where demand exceeds supply. As a result, anti-poaching efforts retreat as funding dries up due to a lack of tourism revenue.
I know that as you read this, it can be easy to get depressed but take a step back. Yes, it’s sad to see this camp close, but it should embolden us to recognize that the world needs responsible tourism more than ever. Travel is no longer simply about a stamp in a passport. Travel presents opportunities to connect with the wider world and gives us a higher purpose that can change the world.
How do we show the power of travel? We humanize it by creating a direct gateway to the brightest smiles on ground – Big Five’s country managers and guides. We are bringing these dynamic personalities to you, our advisors and your clients through our Live with Five platform to do just that. Travel dreams have two sides, visualizing, and experiences. A media hub at Axus Travel App and Live with Five client events do just that. The most exciting part are the implications this has on how we interact with each other in the future and the type of access you and your clients will have.
On a recent Facebook group post, Ruthanne Terrero of Luxury Travel Advisor, asked a great question – “What are you doing today to prepare for the upturn in business…?”
I replied, “putting efficiencies into our procedures as a team.” And boy are we busy in operations. I want to share a few of the things we are working on, for you, our travel advisor partners. We are reinventing ourselves to be stronger tomorrow. Not everything is changing however.
We only sold through travel advisors BC (before Covid), and we will continue to only sell through travel advisors AC (After Covid). Here are a few of the things we are working on:
On demand Zoom calls you can book yourself and tell us how are doing, talk strategy, tell a joke. Book a time to talk to us here.
In this new section, you meet some of the people who engage your clients. Visit Faces of Five often as it grows.
Axus Travel App
We have been a strategic partner with Axus for almost 5 years, and were one of the early adopters of their public library. Imagine a media hub that you can immediately private label and share. Log-in, go to libraries and select Big Five Tours & Expeditions from the drop down menu.
What does out of the box really look like? Check our Presidents Picks for remote adventures that put you on the cutting edge of travel including our forthcoming alternative energy programs. Click here to learn more, visit bigfive.com.
While travel is on hold just now, the dreaming never ends and we have never been busier operationally to insure that Big Five and our partners are stronger than ever coming out of this.
Stay safe and stay strong.