It may be thought of as a bad thing, but with time often being tight you can only afford to go to events that are directly relevant to you; and being directly relevant usually means related. For me, the bubbles I hop between are all fairly closely interconnected – environmental campaigning, sustainable business, social enterprise, and tech start-ups.
But last week I found myself speaking at the AITO (Association of Independent Tour Operators) AGM. Transported into this completely new sphere, I saw the world from a totally new angle.
It was a whole other world, and I’m not just talking about the fact that they had wine and a three course meal at lunch (unheard of in the social enterprise or sustainability worlds!).
In our sustainability bubble, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that everyone shares similar passions and challenges and that no other industry feels as strongly about their work.
But AITO burst that myth for me.
The passion for travel that AITO’s members were driven by was incredibly strong. . Photography, sun, sea, mountains, jungles, architecture, cultures, and exotic creatures – it’s what they all live for and you can hardly blame them.
The challenges they face are massive too, and coming from all directions. We heard from one speaker of a court case that Ski Weekend has been going through after a holiday-maker broke her neck whilst on holiday with them. The inherent risk to clients when running a business of this kind must always be on their minds. And then there are threats from outside, whether global pandemics such as Ebola, or war and political turmoil. We heard from a panel of tourist boards from Egypt, Israel, and Greece who highlighted these facts well – their industry has been significantly hit by recent events in the region.
These are huge, pressing challenges and threats that any company operating in this industry absolutely cannot ignore.
So how then can we expect them to prioritise sustainability?
It’s clearly something that they care about – their industry depends on a thriving, healthy planet and the result of inaction will only mean greater risks to their industry. But in order for it to become an actionable priority today, we’ve clearly got to make it easy – almost unavoidably so. That’s something that we all say a lot, and something we’ve been striving to do since I first conceived of The DoNation. But until you get completely out of your bubble, it’s hard to appreciate quite what it means.
So thanks AITO. And not just for the wine…
On the topic of making it easy: we’re constantly looking for user testers to help us fine-tune the user experience of our site, making it as easy as possible for people to use. If you’d be interested in helping us out by spending 20 minutes running through a little role play on our site, either in person or by Google Hangout, please drop Jesy an email on Jesy@WeAreDoNation.com.