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Volume 2 Issue 3 - Feature Article 1

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FEATURE ARTICLE 1

VolunTourism: The New "P's" of Marketing

If you have had the pleasure of attending business school during the last five decades, you have likely endured the fundamental "P's" of Marketing - Product, Price, Promotion, and Place. VolunTourism is rewriting the textbooks with a new version of its own "Four P's."

According to Wikipedia, the Four P's of marketing were introduced by E. Jerome McCarthy in the "classic" Basic Marketing. Nearly fifty years have passed since the debut of this concept and it has subsequently become an integral part of business school vernacular.

We have entered a new millennium, however, and the inclusion of social responsibility, philanthropy, and nonprofit/for-profit partnerships gives us a chance to rewrite the history books. Because VolunTourism represents a significant philosophic shift in the traditional business model, it is time to offer an approach to the Four P's that accounts for this shift.

The "new" Four P's, we have discovered, consider elements that were primarily absent in Western Society in the late 1950's and early 1960's. Eastern spirituality has come to the West; the Internet has made all corners of the globe accessible, and, therefore, transferable through communication; travel has done the same; societal pressures have advanced the concept of truly being of service to one's neighbor - in other words, the "bottom line" doesn't have a "bottom" anymore. Everything is integrated. What you do to someone else, directly impacts you - believe it or not!

Thus, without further ado, here are the "new" Four P's - Perception, Peace, Partnership, and Passion. Each of these has a corresponding relationship to the original Four P's and this will be explained in the text that follows.

Perception (Replaces Promotion)

Photo Courtesy of Brilliant Voices, All Rights Reserved

Have you ever tried to "promote" the concept of service to someone? Sure, nonprofit organizations have been giving a go of this for years. But when you combine it with travel and tourism, it is extremely difficult to "promote." The combination of service and travel puts people in a very different mindset. There is a shift to a new paradigm of perception - "if I am giving time from my vacation to serve, I better be able to reap some serious rewards."

Now this is not the statement that every person makes, but on some level they recognize that there is a fairly hefty price tag associated with these experiences, especially when you include the airfare. They "must" get something out of the journey when they make this kind of an investment; even if the "something" is the satisfaction that comes from knowing an irrigation system for a small rural village in Africa has been established.

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What potential VolunTourists perceive about their engagement prior to their participation in it will supersede any promotion of such an opportunity. This does not mean that promotion of your products and services should end, it simply means that those promotions will be gauged with a distinct measuring tool.

Peace (of mind) (Replaces Price)

How much one must pay for a product or service has held a wonderful place in our wallets for many years. But thanks to improvements in conscious-awareness regarding global warming, pesticides, child-labor practices, and countless other things that help to "reduce the price" of products and services, price-consciousness is losing its hold on the consumer.

VolunTourists, in particular, are not looking at price. With the intention of being of service to people and places around the world, as well as fulfilling a dream or desire to visit a particular destination, VolunTourists want to walk away from a purchasing decision with the peace of mind that says they have made the proper choice for their future vacation.

Contributions to themselves and the welfare of others lead to a real sense of peace regarding a purchasing decision. There is no "buyer's remorse" under this scenario.

Side note: Also, in terms of peace of mind, all of the people involved in creating the supply chain that makes VolunTourism trips possible hold this same sense of serenity about what they do. It is the easefulness with which these products are offered, especially in comparison to traditional excursions, that lends a halo of satisfaction to employees at all levels.

Photo Courtesy of Brilliant Voices, All Rights Reserved

Partnership (Replaces Place)

Because VolunTourism encompasses a collection of people, places, and things, as well as multiple organizations and entities to create the overall experience, its present and future functionality resides on the shoulders of strong partnerships. Collaboration among the multiple stakeholders enables VolunTourists to participate in voluntary service and unique travel & tourism options. Without such collaboration, no such opportunity will exist.

It is, perhaps, difficult to imagine the complexity involved in the creation of VolunTourism itineraries. So much pre-arrival preparation occurs at the destination level. The trust that has been fostered through many years of community development operations by some NGOs and grassroots organizations is part of the equation that results in a full-spirited and uplifting journey for VolunTourists. This is balanced, in turn, with years of destination-based knowledge provided by tour operators who know only the "best" spots for photos and divining life-long memories.

Each party brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the VolunTourism equation. The combination results in dynamic travel worthy of repetition.

Passion (Replaces Product)

I hope this is not a news flash for most of you, but if so, let's end any doubt that you might have about what sells in the 21st Century. Passion is what people are buying. Why purchase it if your heart isn't involved? What's the point?

VolunTourism is about passion. VolunTourists have a passion for travel, or a passion for service, or, likely, a passion for both. If they have a passion for both - a true affinity, then you have a chance to give them that passion in one unique offering.

You will want to check your internal reserves to make certain that you and your staff have this same passion. If this means sending them on a VolunTourism experience through another operation before you get started, then do so. If this means that you need to be extremely selective when reviewing resumes to determine if someone has voluntary service in their background, so be it. Don't underestimate the fact that your consumers will be basing their decisions to participate because of their passion.

Conclusion

You may need a little time to warm up to these "new" P's; don't let this get you discouraged. The best way to see them in action is to look at your own purchasing decisions in other areas of your life.

I was speaking with a colleague the other day who was telling me about her recent purchase of a hybrid vehicle. "Yes, it is more expensive," she confided, "but the peace of mind that comes from making the purchase..."

Decisions are no longer reliant on the five senses and the intellectual mind. The heart is playing a bigger and bigger role in how we operate. These "new" P's recognize the nature of the heart - being about connectivity, feeling, and concern for others. But don't take my word for it; discover this for yourself. Soon, you, too, will be telling your friends and colleagues about the "new" Four P's: "Perception, Peace, Partnership, and Passion!"

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VolunTourism:
A seamlessly integrated combination of voluntary service to a destination and the best, traditional elements of travel—arts, culture, geography, and history—in that destination.

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