Dear Advisor Partners,
We are always looking for signs of what 2022 will look like. Sure, there have been some twists and turns to start the year, so perhaps the signs are not as clear as we would like. However, after the amazing letter from our CEO in last week’s blog, a love letter to the industry if you will, we thought we would share our first video of 2022. We want to share some of our successes with you since, in a large part, you were responsible for them.
Our commitment to being socially responsible and traveling with meaning was scaled up as business started to pick up. It’s actually the most important achievement for us, beyond any key performance indicator, because our commitment to helping those in need is what keeps us grounded. In 2021, we launched three new sustainability projects under our GIB 5.0 umbrella, and every complete Big Five journey supports one of these projects automatically. To read more about how GIB 5.0 works click here. We helped launch Kipi the robot, which was deployed to the poorest parts of Peru to bring education to communities that lack even basic internet connection as a form of fighting drug trafficking. Thanks to your help, we launched a clean water project in Guatemala partnering with EcoFiltro, putting us on track to provide over 2000 children in Guatemala with clean water for two years starting in 2022. Our long-standing support of Ereto Primary School accelerated into high gear, thanks to your generous contributions, that allowed us to grow this school from 20 children over 8 years ago, to more than 300 children as of January 1, 2022. We restarted our funding of the Jetwing Youth Development program in Sri Lanka partnering with Jetwing Hotels to provide hospitality training for inner-city youth and those born in conflict, in order to offer a viable future. We shifted back from poverty alleviation to micro-entrepreneurship for Andean women in the Sacred Valley of Peru through our partnership with Awamaki. Providing equitable wages for these women through weaving, we even contracted them for the handmade bracelets so many of you received at the travel conferences we participated in from Virtuoso Travel Week to ILTM.
We have so much more planned for 2022 on the horizon. That however starts with some levity and a possible sign of good times…my injuries. In fact, we created a video for you just to make you smile. Happy New Year everyone! We are looking forward to taking on 2022 with you, even if I am typing left-handed these days.
Dear Advisor Partners,
On behalf of the entire Big Five family around the world, I take this opportunity to express our appreciation for your partnership and more importantly, your friendship. Like many of you, the days ahead are looking much brighter and we have many reasons to be excited for the year to come. Above all else, we are excited to take the 2022 journey with all of you, after all, it’s only fitting that we emerge together from the struggle we entered together.
As we ring in 2022, I think back to when I started the company in 1973, almost half a century ago. While that may date me, it doesn’t take away the importance of the first few lessons I learned when I got my start at a hotel front desk in Kenya.
First, I learned there is a difference between the path to reacting and the path to responding and you have only a few seconds to make the right choice that defines either a reaction or a response. It’s this choice, in that small amount of time, that defines how happy guests can be.
Second, I remember being told that travel teaches us to practice peace and to recognize that this is a conscious choice not a given. It means getting out of our comfort zone to find that peace while finding new ways to appreciate those in our lives and to let them know they are valued. As you can probably tell, this doesn’t just apply to guests, it applies to anyone in your life. Make the conscious choice, and peace becomes your constant.
Third, ask yourself daily, ‘what habits, thoughts, feelings and actions are in my voluntary control that will elevate my state of being?’. There is more in your voluntary control than you think and the best actions are the ones from the heart, the invisible actions. You see the last two years were a reminder for me and everyone here at Big Five, that happiness isn’t from what we get, but from what we give.
We entered 2020 together and we are emerging together. Our message is no longer the same, it has evolved. That means leaving the world better than we found it is no longer a mission. It’s a responsibility and an honor we must hold in the highest regard. Out of all the lessons I learned in the nearly 50 years at Big Five and the 7+ years before that in hotel management, these three lessons have endured. They have guided me since the beginning and especially in these past two years. I hope they can do the same for you.
Best wishes for 2022, I look forward to sharing in success, awareness, and invisible greatness with all of you.
CEO & Founder Big Five Tours & Expeditions
Chairman Spirit of Big Five Foundation