Location, Location, Location?

Richard Edwards of Planeterra recently did an interesting interview for the WorldNomads.com Responsible Travel blog, one of his comments struck a particular chord with me and I wanted to throw it out to everyone.

How much does a project’s location dictate how successful it is? Here is his quote, “We have been less successful when asking travelers to projects that aren’t on routes that are visited during tours, even though the project may be doing important and worthwhile work.”

What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Anyone done anything to help generate volunteers in truly off the beaten track locations?

Richard Edwards

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9 thoughts on “Location, Location, Location?

  1. VG-
    I personally prefer the unbeaten path. At International Villages-Hopewell in Kenya we built in a rural slum about 30-40 minutes from the nearest town. Surrounding us and our volunteer opportunities is small family shambas (farms) and nature. The nearest tarmac road is abotu 25 minutes away on motorbike or matatu. Our volunteers seem to love this as they develop relationships with our neighbors in the community and get to personally work with the staff at the IV, meet and spend time with their families, and walk to most of the volunteer opportunities. I like the unbeaten path.

  2. Want an off the beaten path volunteer vacation? Check out http://www.globeaware.org. They list places to volunteer that I had never even heard of! People all over the world need help and Globe Aware acknowledges that. They dig deep into developing countries and form relationships with people in the communities so that getting to these places and helping the “forgotten” people there are accessible for anyone who wants to help.

  3. I have a problem with the question to begin with. It seems to me that “successful” in this case is implied to mean if there were hi sales of that trip: ie financial success for the tour company. Shouldn’t we be measuring success by impact on the projects we are visiting?

  4. D – my meaning of successful in this post was the project in it’s goals. If it has no volunteers that want to come can it achieve the goals the company has promised the community.

  5. I’m not sure where the word got left out, but the message I intended to deliver was that – We have been less successful when asking travelers to donate to projects that aren’t on routes that are visited during tours, even though the project may be doing important and worthwhile work.
    We don’t have any problem getting volunteers for out-of-the-way places, and have several projects and tours that fit the description of not being on the beaten path, but visited by at least one of our tours. We find the most impact we can make as a tour operator is by both donating and sending volunteers to a project, so we’re choosing to focus on those that lend themselves to both in most of our new trip development.

  6. Interesting comment on location I saw from Globe Aware in the same series of articles: http://journals.worldnomads.com/responsible-travel/story/59414/Worldwide/Fast-Five-Profile-Globe-Aware

    “Less successful has been promoting projects in communities that are more than 6 hours from the airport of entry. Our primary volunteers tend to be working professionals and they normally only have about a week to take off to participate in a program. Our experience has been that project sites that are too far from the airport of entry tend to be harder to promote to short term volunteers, even if it is a really great project in a needy community.”

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