Reminder: State of the Volunteer Travel Industry Survey

Just a reminder in case you missed it: the 2013 State of the Volunteer Travel Industry Survey is underway!

You can view the previous one here (opens in a new tab as a PDF), or on our Voluntourism Research page.

With this report, we want to continue our research to see how the field has expanded, shrunk, or changed. Your participation in this survey will give us an accurate pulse of the industry within the United States, and will help us as we move forward with research, best practices, and more.

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, and for all to see.

There are two ways to participate: wait until Alexia or I call and harass you, or just send me an email (Sarah@FrayedPassport.com) with your answers. We’d much prefer an email, as this will help us keep a record of your responses—from you directly—so that nothing gets lost in the mix, and so that we’re both completely on the same page about what you’ve reported.

Also let me know if you’d be willing to send the volunteer survey out among your networks, and I will send you a survey that is branded for your organization.

Criteria to qualify as an operator in this survey:

  • Have a U.S. office
  • Send U.S. volunteers abroad
  • Not faith-based in any way
  • Volunteers must pay for their placement
  • Travelers work for more than four days of straight volunteering (e.g., cannot be an adventure travel placement with a volunteer component)

Questions for operators that meet the above 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 2012?
  • Do you expect to send more or less volunteers abroad in 2013 than you did in 2012?
  • 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, or other?

To be included in the report, we ask that you get back to us via email by this Friday, April 26. (Update: we’ve heard from those of you who’d like to send your answers along still–please send your surveys ASAP to Sarah@FrayedPassport.com and we’ll include you in the report!)

Thanks very much—we’re looking forward to hearing what you have to say!

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If Everyone Loves Your Travel Marketing, It Isn’t Any Good

Love this article by Alexi, had to share – view the full article here: http://www.mercurycsc.com/blog/2013/03/12/if-everyone-loves-your-travel-marketing-it-isnt-an/

There is an old adage that has long been a barometer used by travelers (as opposed to tourists) when choosing a destination:

Bad roads = good tourists.
Good roads = bad tourists.

Until now, that is.

The World Tourism Organization reported over a billion tourist arrivals in 2012, up from 350 Million in 1987. The fastest growing segment of the tourism industry? Geotourism, which includes ecotourism, cultural tourism and adventure travel is growing at 17% per year while mainstream tourism is growing at only 4% per year.

The increase in global tourism combined with the growing popularity of Geotourism has been a financial success for tourism suppliers and destinations that cater to this market. That’s good news.

The bad news is that those bad roads (or no roads) leading to awesome destinations are a lot more crowded than before. Tourists are no longer perched in rental cars at the edge of the concrete where it meets the dust, afraid to lurch forward and discover what’s past the bend. They know what’s past the bend.

Why? Because we told them.

As travel marketers, we’ve all been trained to think of our marketing efforts as a tackle box of lures—travel marketing as an attractor. People pay lip service to the importance of a target audience but in reality most travel marketers are chumming the waters hoping for a bite, no matter what kind of tourist they drag in.

But great travel marketing is not about being a bigger lure. It’s about being a better filter.

Admittedly, there already exists a fair amount of filtering in travel marketing. Unfortunately, it’s filtering by price. The result is that places eventually become exclusive domains for the wealthy or overpopulated resorts for the price conscious. Think Monaco versus Daytona Beach.

Travel is a contact sport. Who we see in the hotel bar, on the chairlift or out in the lineup affects the experience. In travel, the experience is the brand. In other words, who you invite to the party determines what kind of party you’re going to have.

And homogenization of any kind makes for a very boring party.

Walking the Walk

Travel marketers need to look deeply into their brands and uncover their true sense of purpose. While this may sound philosophical, it is in-fact exceedingly pragmatic for filter marketing.

If your purpose is to “create memorable experiences for travelers frustrated with the airline industry,” like it is for Nature Air, then delaying a flight to transport an injured dolphin is on brand. If a passenger complains? Here’s a full refund and the telephone numbers to the other airlines you should fly. “Thanks, but no thanks.”

We must tell stories that are effective in attracting the right travelers and alienating the wrong ones. For years, research indicated that the average traveler’s perception of Montana was, “There’s nothing there.” So, how do you turn a potentially negative perception into a meaningful marketing campaign? You tell your audience what they already know—“There’s Nothing Here.” That campaign ignited the interest of the core audience and let the state’s non-core audience know exactly what to expect (and not expect) from a trip to Montana.

How do we know filter marketing works? Because the wrong types of customers just stop calling. This is where most travel marketers get freaked out. Influencing some people to stop calling is simply not in their DNA. It runs counter to everything they try so hard to do (i.e. get the phone to ring), particularly in a seasonal business like travel.

What’s the alternative? Getting people to buy who don’t value your purpose. These travelers will never be happy with whatever you deliver and more importantly they’ll make every other traveler around them miserable as well.

We don’t just advise clients on filter marketing. We do it for ourselves. For example, we publish our manifesto on our site. If you like what you’ve read, we’d love to hear from you. If you don’t, you probably won’t call, and that’s fine by us.

Call for Entries: 2013 State of the Volunteer Travel Industry Survey

Alrighty, friends—we’re ready to start the 2013 State of the Volunteer Travel Industry Survey!

You can view the previous one here (opens in a new tab as a PDF), or on our Voluntourism Research page.

With this report, we want to continue our research to see if the field has expanded, shrunk, changed…well, you get the idea. Your participation in this survey will give us an accurate pulse of the industry within the United States, and will help us as we move forward with research, best practices, and more.

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, and for all to see.

There are two ways to participate: wait until Alexia or I call and harass you, or just send me an email (Sarah@FrayedPassport.com) with your answers. We’d much prefer an email, as this will help us keep a record of your responses—from you directly—so that nothing gets lost in the mix, and so that we’re both completely on the same page about what you’ve reported.

Also let me know if you’d be willing to send the volunteer survey out among your networks, and I will send you a survey that is branded for your organization.

Criteria to qualify as an operator in this survey:

  • Have a U.S. office
  • Send U.S. volunteers abroad
  • Not faith-based in any way
  • Volunteers must pay for their placement
  • Travelers work for more than four days of straight volunteering (e.g., cannot be an adventure travel placement with a volunteer component)

Questions for operators that meet the above 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 2012?
  • Do you expect to send more or less volunteers abroad in 2013 than you did in 2012?
  • 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, or other?

To be included in the report, we ask that you get back to us via email by Friday, April 26. (Update: we’ve heard from those of you who’d like to send your answers along still–please send your surveys ASAP to Sarah@FrayedPassport.com and we’ll include you in the report!)

Thanks very much—we’re looking forward to hearing what you have to say!