Our ethics as a travel company
Putting purpose before profit
For a long time now brands have been forced to rethink the way they do business as consumer consciousness has grown. In particular travel and wellness brands are now shaping wider business models in prioritizing purpose over profit.
Since it's inception Adventure Alternative has always believed in a business model which shared the profits of tourism in order to benefit the local staff and companies which are part of the tourism experience. Tourism can be nastily exploitative and historically there have been many cases of negative impact on destinations. Put simply it's a lot to do with an inequality in how the money is shared out.
Back in 1991 when Adventure Alternative began as a small concern, founder Gavin Bate was travelling extensively and living in mostly developing countries. The experiences he had led to the creation of an alternative adventure company, one that would aim to use tourism to help local people out of poverty and gain worthy careers. Those initial influences still form the basis of the ethics of the company today, and we feel the strapline 'responsible travel company' has been well earned.
A recent survey by Deloitte showed that 88% of people believed that businesses today are having a positive impact on the planet, while 62% believed that most business leaders were helping to improve society. Clearly the change in the way business is handled and the way consumers buy their products and experiences is speeding up, hopefully reaching a critical mass point where everyone will put purpose before profit.
The benefits are obvious and clear, the best workforce will be attracted and retained by thinking big on positive impacts. In tourism this principle didn't seem to apply to illiterate porters in poor countries however, and a core ethic at Adventure Alternative is to treat everyone respectfully and equally. All of the staff have a proper salary and training and a chance to turn their competence into a career, and their career into an income which will help with the inequities in life and enable their children to grow up without the privations that they did.
Companies which demonstrate ethical practises set themselves apart of course, and brands which set out to improve people's lives are outperforming those that don't. The consumers are choosing with their feet, and it is clear that fair practises and strong core values really do make sound business sense.
Adventure Alternative now has staff who have been involved for over fifteen years, some as many as twenty years. This measurement cannot be put into a balance sheet but it has helped us form a 'brand personality' that is our biggest asset. It's something we're very proud of and any new client going to Nepal or Kenya or Tanzania or Russia always comes back speaking in glowing terms about our staff. It really does help the holiday become an experience.
Investing in people and our local businesses
As members of the association of independent tour operators and the PROTECT programme we have made the following pledge:
Adventure Alternative is dedicated to sharing the benefits of tourism with our local staff and companies, and we are well known for being responsible and fair as well as professional and fun. We believe in compassionate leadership and have a company ethos to put collective social and economic development bottom line . In fact most of our employees have been with us for nearly twenty years and our clients describe our corporate personality as more like a family than a company. That integrity and reputation is something we’re very proud of!
We empower our staff through training and working together and we invest in their future. Each local Adventure Alternative company receives financial support and training so that it can develop as a success story. It takes long term commitment and money, knowledge and friendship.
In 2017 Adventure Alternative pledge to invest £2000 in training for our around 50 staff in Nepal, Kenya, Tanzania, Morocco, Borneo and Russia. This will include English courses, mountain leadership, first aid and IT training. Plus another £1000 of assistance with their websites, social media and online promotion and an additional £1000 in personal equipment and technical clothing. We know that this makes our staff happier, helps their long term careers and ultimately provides safe, happy holidays which in turn leads to satisfied clients who want to travel with us again!
This investment in people will, alongside the social development we provide with our charity Moving Mountains, continue to help breathe new life into communities and help people become the architects of their own success.