Last Chance to Take Part in the Survey!

How many times has a reporter asked you what the size of the voluntourism market in the US is?  Last year we came up with some real numbers for the first time thanks to your help. This year we want to continue the research to see if the field has grown/shrunk/etc. So please participate so we can get an accurate pulse of the industry, this will help all of us.

All participants’ information will be kept strictly confidential and only the results, and a total list of companies that participated, will be produced – for free, for all to see.

So there are two ways to participate: wait until I call and harass you or just send me an email with your answers (much appreciated). Also let me know if you’d be willing to have send the volunteer survey out and I will send you a survey that is branded for your organization.

Criteria to qualify as an operator in this survey:
– Have a US office
– Send US volunteers abroad
– Not faith based in anyway
– Volunteers have to pay to volunteer
– Travelers work for more than 4 days of straight volunteering (the idea with this is to eliminate the adventure companies that offer voluntourism as an activity)

Questions for operators that meet the criteria:

– To which countries do you currently send volunteers?

– What is the most popular activity for your volunteers? Building; Community Development; Conservation – Environmental, Wildlife, or Heritage; Scientific; Health Care; Skills Based Professional; Teaching; Other (please describe)

– How many volunteers did you send abroad in 2009?

– Do you expect to send more or less volunteers abroad in 2010 than you did in 2009?

– What is your return rate for volunteers?

Optional, if you have time:

– Do you feel the economy is affecting your business positively, negatively or unaffected? What, if anything, have you done to counteract the effects of the recession?

– Are there any valuable insights or lessons learned you would like to share with the industry?

-Which term do you most associate with your organization? Voluntourism, volunteer tourism, volunteer vacation, volunteer travel, volunteer abroad?

Who Made this Voluntourism PDF?

This PDF was sent to me from a friend at GWU today asking if I know who made it, I have no clue so thought I’d reach out to the blog network. It is a fabulous one pager summarizing the voluntourism market so whoever did this – hats off to you!

For everyone else it’s worth a read, a really good succinct summary of the industry. Is there anything you question or would add? And would the creator please step up?

Take two secs and check this out: Voluntourism

Royal Caribbean’s Voluntourism Trips – Jumping on the Bandwagon or Useful?

Royal Caribbean just put up a post about their new voluntourism trips – what do you think, genuinely useful volunteer projects that benefit all or are they simply jumping on the bandwagon?

“Voluntourism is a new and growing segment of travel and at Royal Caribbean International it manifests itself in several ways highlighting our commitment to the local communities we visit. We are just starting a program of voluntourism opportunities for our guests on Oasis of the Seas and if successful, will be expanded to other areas of need within the regions of our global deployment.”

Read the full post here.

WYSE Youth Research – Good Summer Reading

In May WYSE came out with their Youth Travel Industry Monitor – it makes for good reading if you haven’t seen it already. Some highlights below:

– Although increased marketing efforts continued to be important in influencing business throughout 2009, there was
a marked increase in the importance of new partnerships, which were mentioned by almost 60% of respondents as
an important factor influencing their business in 2009. This demonstrates the importance of efforts made to develop
these links as the business climate began to deteriorate. In many cases, the full benefit of such partnerships may
not have been felt until market conditions began to recover in the later part of 2009.

– The decline in the volume of business reported for 2009 in comparison with 2008 was only -0.3%. This seems to
confirm that the decline in demand that many respondents reported in the first part of 2009 was reversed later in
the year and that many sectors of the industry are now beginning to see some growth again.
– The trend towards renewed growth in some sectors is also clear from the distribution of growth reported by youth
travel organisations. In 2009, almost a quarter of respondents reported growth of 15% or more compared with
2008.
– These results indicate that the youth travel industry preformed much more strongly than the global travel industry
as a whole in 2009. The UNWTO reported a decline in international tourism of -4% over the whole of 2009, which means that the youth travel industry’s performance was 3.7% ahead of the rest of the market in 2009.

– Looking at longer-term trends, it seems that demand, product availability and costs are closely related. These three
indicators all fell as demand softened in early 2009. However, as economic recovery set in with the northern
hemisphere’s summer months of 2009, demand, availability and costs all rose. Demand increases stimulated a
significant growth in product availability, with a slightly slower increase in prices.

Don’t Be Shy – Say Hello!

For all of you operators out there that read this blog and leave your links in the comments section – don’t be shy, say hello! On a daily basis media and travelers call me asking me about companies, if I don’t know anything about you besides your link I can’t recommend you.

So help yourself out, say hi, let me know a bit about your company via email or a phone call, write a guest post but step out of the link baiting section.

Latest company I was asked about was Volunteer HQ – couldn’t recommend you because I have no idea what you do.

CNN Voluntourism Series – Have you seen it?

CNN interviewed me last week for their series on voluntourism – in case you haven’t seen it they are doing a series, should help raise voluntourism awareness coming right into the peak traveler time.

Finding volunteer trips that actually help

The idea of volunteering away from home seems like a win-win to many travelers: a way to experience and help another community at the same time. But without a solid, well-designed program and reasonable expectations, volunteer travel can do more harm than good.

Volunteering to save lives in Haiti

Sleeping in the open air under a mosquito net because earthquake aftershocks make being inside too frightening: It’s not everyone’s ideal way to use up their vacation.

Sun, sea and … orphans? A vacation with a difference in Thailand

Whether you place the responsibility with Brangelina, Madonna or Sandra Bullock, there is no denying the adoption of children from impoverished nations by celebrities and other westerners is becoming increasingly popular.

Traveler gets a little taste of voluntourism

It’s cold and dark and I’m alone in a puny, mildewed tent nursing a blister and some seriously sore triceps. I figure it’s as good a time as any to take stock.