G Adventures founder Bruce Poon Tip has described traditional fam trip models as “boring” and criticised the way some agents are offered fam trips.
The adventure operator’s inaugural Change Makers Summit, in Peru, welcomed not only top sellers but also agents who champion the brand and are likely to sell it.
Poon Tip said: “I’ve been saying for a very long time about my unhappiness with the general concept of fams and how traditional and how boring they’ve become. They just needed some kind of innovation.”
Neelan Kanda, director of Sapphire Adventures, agreed, adding: “In some cases you don’t learn much about the destination at all and you go from one hotel to another.
“However, first-hand experience on the ground sampling an operator’s programme is invaluable and makes it so much easier to sell.”
Poon Tip also criticised the way some travel companies offer fam trips to agents as a perk rather than select agents based on their interest in the destination or operator.
Referring to some trips that G Adventures runs for partner agencies, he said: “We don’t get to choose the agents. [They are] not the bestselling agents or the most‑effective agents. [The fam] is used as an incentive [whereas] we are trying to put over a different agenda.
“We want agents to learn what we do and we want to create a meaningful relationship with agents that are likely to, or somewhat intentioned to, sell our programmes.”
Poon Tip said: “We’re trying to limit these fams with partners and to try to think of other ways to motivate their agents. People are afraid to talk about this because it’s so important to the incentive side of the business.”
G Adventures aims for 100 social projects
G Adventures is launching Project 100, which will bring the total number of social enterprise community projects to 100 by 2020.
The announcement came as the operator hit its target of launching 50 social enterprise community projects in five years through its not-for-profit foundation, Planeterra, with a year and a half to spare.
G Adventures formed Planeterra in 2003 to develop and support small communities around the world in the destinations to which its customers travel.
Victoria Houle, Planeterra director of development, said: “We started with 25 [already open] and added 50. We achieved our goal a year and a half early, so raised the game and launched Project 100.
“Last year, 58,000 people benefited from Planterra projects. G Adventures covers our operational costs, which means 100% of what we raise goes back to the community.”
Firms to offer fams to agents who ‘change most lives’
Agents saw first-hand how their G Adventures bookings make a difference to local communities in the destinations their customers visit.
Fourteen top bookers from the UK were among 127 global trade professionals to attend the summit in Peru, where they toured Lima, Cusco and the Sacred Valley, and went on a day trip to Machu Picchu.
The final day included a walking tour of Cusco and the Change Makers Summit presentations, where agents found out more about the operator’s not-for-profit partner Planeterra and heard a keynote speech by founder Bruce Poon Tip, who answered delegates’ questions.
Jade Snedeker, a travel expert at STA Travel in London, said: “I loved the community visits. It’s great to learn more about G Adventures and see everything we have contributed towards in practice. I had no idea what to expect and it’s great to see what customers are experiencing.”
David Green, vice-president of commercial at G Adventures, said: “This summit is about celebrating with the agents who have changed the most lives during our incentive campaign. We wanted to make this more than just an educational, we wanted to make it a life-changing experience for everyone and a lot of fun along the way.”
Green confirmed the event would be held again next year, with further details to be confirmed in July.
“Our categories for winning a place are linked to the numbers of lives changed, wildcard spots and social submissions linked to our core values,” he said. “To be in with a chance of winning a place, all we ask is that you consider G Adventures as an option when consulting with your clients, and if they don’t travel with us, then hopefully they will travel like us.”