The VolunTourist™ is a premium Newsletter for the Travel Trade. For those interested in dis-covering what is happening in the world of VolunTourism and seeking emerging practices, general information, and case studies, this is your Source.
So You May Know...
As we move closer to the 2006 VolunTourism Forum & Expo, I will address the various models of VolunTourism that are currently present in the marketplace. The value that I hope to deliver to Our Readers is an awakened and informed interest in some of the programming content that will be incorporated into next year's Forum. Also, it is my desire to assist you in initiating such practices in conjunction with your respective operations.
In the July "Supply Chain," I introduced you to the efforts of the Outrigger Team in Waikiki. Without any fanfare, the employees of the resort began their own quest to serve their local community. Through a simple progression, visitors expressed interest in joining the employees. Quietly and unobtrusively a VolunTourism initiative was born.
A similar course occurred with Tauck World Discovery and they currently run their VolunTourism experience in Yellowstone National Park.
Still another example is the program headed by Nancy Rivard at Airline Ambassadors (A group I hope to include in a future "Supply Chain" article for The VolunTourist). In this situation, employees of American Airlines realized that service was a natural extension of the ability to fly freely around the globe. The privilege to serve was a natural extension of their privilege to fly.
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Why is this model of VolunTourism so valuable?
The steady stream of volunteers, as employees, guarantees that the needs of the community will be met regardless of whether one VolunTourist, ten, fifty, or a hundred or more follow in the footsteps of the employees. The regularity of "service supply" gives the residents and nonprofit organizations or NGOs a sense of commitment that bears ongoing fruit.
Residents also have a chance to connect with the employees and thus become accustomed to the process of voluntary service. If properly organized, the service projects will assist residents in understanding the mutual effort of accomplishing tasks alongside others - especially those that may or may not be directly connected to the local culture and customs. (This is often the case for the tourism industry for which many employees are transient or trained elsewhere and transferred to a given destination.)
An additional benefit to the Employee-Based Volun-Tourism Model is that service is already part of the corporate culture. If it is your task to initiate a Volun-Tourism program in a destination in which employees have been actively involved in serving residents, the relative ease with which you will be able to perform your duty should be inspiring to you and the entire staff. There is a great sense of appreciation for employees when they are empowered to share something that motivates them with clients and guests. "And just look at how much more can be done when we add the hands and feet of Volun-Tourists to our existing service contingent."
But a word of caution with this model...
Be certain that the employees who currently serve are included in the initial discussions and decision-making process that you utilize to develop your VolunTourism plans. It must be understood from the very beginning that your intention is not to replace their efforts but to expand on their contributions by adding that of in-bound VolunTourists!
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