This week I interviewed Kimberly Haley-Coleman, Executive Director of Globe Aware. Globe Aware is a non-profit volunteer/voluntour organization dedicated to promoting cultural awareness and sustainability. I’ve written about Globe Aware’s focus on volunteer support, feedback, and building a volunteer community, something I think other volunteer organizations should emulate. As an aside, I would like to commend Globe Aware for their stance against orphanage tourism, a big business that often results in the exploitation of the children it’s meant to support (more on this below).
I always wonder how much volunteer/voluntour organizations listen to their volunteers. It seems like a no-brainer—the volunteers are on the ground doing the job, they’re a voluntour organization’s bread and butter—and yet, in many cases considering the opinions of the volunteers is an afterthought. Voluntour organizations have a lot to think about. They’re managing projects in communities where local people may or may not agree with their methods. They’re fundraising, politicking, and promoting their companies. Still, at the heart of every good volunteer organization are the volunteers themselves.
Travelocity is one of the giants of online travel planning. Kids these days don’t go to travel agents. We don’t need third-party facilitators to book our white water rafting trips or our day hikes through the redwood forests. We do it ourselves, on the Internet. By now, most travel businesses have moved online. Those that haven’t are either catering to a very specific demographic of wealthy, typically older travelers, or they’re swiftly shooting down the out-of-business luge run. Travelocity has succeeded as a business because we all want control of our destinies. Perhaps that’s putting it dramatically but the point is made: 2012 travelers are self-possessed, savvy, and resourceful.