Interesting article about honeymoons and voluntourism – it seems to be a growing trend, are you finding that with your company? Is it possibly a market you should considering targeting?
(and yes I admit this is a shameless plug for an article I helped with, but on a FAM this week and no time to write a real post =)
To Have and To Hold – and to Help
Many newlyweds opt for candles, champagne toasts and rose-petal-covered beds, but Meghan Courtney and Rich Shaner had a different idea of romance.
Their honeymoon was a little dirty. And sweaty. And exhausting. And not at all what you’re thinking.
Courtney and Shaner, who were married Aug. 1 in Pennsylvania, honeymooned in Boulder to help build a house with the Flatirons Habitat for Humanity.
“We wanted something other than the standard Hawaii trip, a different take on the honeymoon,” Courtney said. “They had some pretty elaborate honeyteering trips abroad, but they were too extreme for us, so we looked to create our own and give back.”
Honeyteering. That’s the media-coined phrase for volunteer honeymoons — lumped in with another word fusion: voluntourism.
Despite the economy and its gloomy tourism numbers, voluntourism is still booming, according to the State of the Volunteer Travel Industry survey by Littleton-based Lasso Communications. In fact, 61 percent of travel companies surveyed said they expected to send more volunteers abroad this year than last, and 16 percent expected the same amount.
About 9 percent of these people travel with their partner, according to another study, Volunteer Travel Insights 2009 by GeckoGo.
Not many. Yet one of the greatest complaints about volunteer vacations is that people get lonely and want someone to decompress with, the studies found. Not to mention, the GeckoGo study found that 99 percent of participants thought their trip was meaningful or very meaningful. Some respondents said it was the best experience of their lives.
Sharing that with your new life partner can deepen the relationship, advocates say.
Alexia Nestoria, of Littleton, is a consultant for the volunteer travel industry who writes the blog voluntourismgal.com.
She attributes the volunteerism growth to an extension of the green movement; a weak job market that has pushed graduates to look for alternate kinds of experience; and layoffs that have left Americans with more time on their hands.
“I think honeymoons are changing, to be honest. It’s no longer a booze cruise or lying on the beach,” Nestoria said. “Budgets are tighter, and people want every dollar to count.”
Plus, the generation that is getting married right now is more aware of the need to help. They are savvy travelers who ask questions and want to know where their dollars are going.