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December 2005 - UnXpected

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.


DECEMBER 2005 - Home


So You May Know
Wisdom & Insight
Supply Chain
Study & Research



This Month's Reader Comments

Dear David:

Brief thoughts on your summary of the NTA Panel on voluntourism…  How great to see NTA support and promote VolunTourism, which responds to the point that positive social impact and good business can be synergistic. 

It's a " no-brainer" that using the Web can control the cost of providing VolunTourism, while promoting it and building loyalty among clients.  In the era of all-print, promotions of any kind were limited to costly space and stringently ranked marketing priorities.  Today, the Web provides a company with "unlimited" opportunity to promote VolunTourism. 

A provider's Web site can offer ample space to create the VolunTourism experience in the client's mind's eye, as well as delve into the nitty gritty of operations.  Informed consumers are always the best customers, so it's important to tell them how the program has been set up, for example, the factors considered such as liability, close interaction with the local community, and sustainable travel and community issues.  Typical days or volunteer projects combined with the beneficiaries' stories in some detail help the client see what a difference even one person's contribution can make.  Here's the spot for "metrics" that can tell the story of positive change.  For example, the local equivalent in terms of time or money of one project's worth to a family or community and then a rollup of that example into a year's worth of time, money, or whatever measure of importance to the beneficiaries and the travelers.  "I can make a difference!" should be the reader's conclusion.

Another Web section would offer VolunTourism travelers a bulletin board for Q & A and an area to post their experiences and pictures.  Nothing like seeing with one's own eyes, and such intensely personal postings can be the very best sales technique, a first-hand recommendation.  At the same time, past travelers create a community that can both support and promote the program.  Unlike the marketing section that is generally static, this dynamic one requires resources to maintain and monitor the site.  One benefit might be the marketing gems found in contributors' stories and pictures.

As Boomers like me age, "legacy" for family, friends, and society becomes more important.  "How can I make it better for my family, friends, and community?"  "How can I make the world a better place for my grandchildren?"  "How can I make a difference, no matter how simply?"  VolunTourism provides a means to answer those questions as part of the personal enrichment that is at the core of every tour experience.  Donations of money can certainly help, but VolunTourism's direct, individual-to-individual relationships leave indelible benefits and memories for all parties long after the money has been spent.


Tuesdays 10am ET/7am PT

Thanks, David, to you and VolunTourism for your commitment to take the lead in such a unique personal opportunity to make the world a better place.


Hal Norvell


Thanks very much for this email!

You certainly have some great ideas. I hope our readers are sifting through your suggestions and seeing the valuable insights that you have offered.

VolunTourism is a difficult business because it is not a postcard; it is not a brochure; it is not a flashy website. VolunTourism is truly about the experience of connecting with a part of yourself that you didn't know really existed and a part of your world that you really didn't know to what extent needed your assistance.

You offer some good points on how this information can be conveyed - testimonials, discussion groups, etc. These will definitely help. And the next steps will flow naturally from these.

But, ultimately, the experience itself is the big seller. VolunTourism is a risk. It is a risk for the VolunTourist. We have to be able to deliver a message about the "pay-off" on the other side of the experience. This is where VolunTourism has an advantage over the competition.

Two worlds - the best of Service and the best of Travel - are combining to create experiences like nothing before realized by travelers!


I looked around your website to see if there was some appropriate place for the following information, but can’t see any, bit I thought I’d write anyway. We have two places on our website about volunteer travel, one pretty directly applicable and the other slightly different to the thrust of Voluntourist, but still of interest I think. The first, at


gives both some volunteer travel sites, such as ecovolunteer, but also lists (on the next page) actual volunteer opportunities.  As we are a natural history travel company we focus on natural history related volunteer travel, rather than cultural.

In another section we talk about REST in Thailand, which is both a socially aware community development tourism project, but also welcomes volunteers to assist with their projects.


I’m still trying to get time to write the article about our passenger who volunteered for two months in Kalimantan after one of our trips there, and although it’s very late, it will get to you!


Andrew Haffenden

President, Nature Travel Specialists LLC


Thanks for your email. This is great information for folks interested in having a look at the broader landscape of what is possible and what is available in the global marketplace for VolunTourism.

Dear David,

Greetings from Thailand and Laos!  Many thanks for your regular newsletter. I find it very good for opening my mind to new opinions and the latest on Voluntourism, so it's become sort of required reading around here!  We now have one person whose primary responsibility is to help me develop voluntourism elements for inclusion in other more mainstream tours, and the markets for said activities. The initiative continues to move smartly ahead.


Let us hear from you! Email us with your questions, comments, and testimonials at: voluntourist@voluntourism.org

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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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