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Past Webcasts - August 28, 2007

Research Forum

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VT Cast #3: The Convergence Of The Travel Industry & VolunTourism


The travel industry has taken an interest in VolunTourism; the question is this: "What do they plan to do with VolunTourism as it relates to tour operators, suppliers, destination marketing organizations, etc.? Guests offer their thoughts on how a merger may occur.

[Listen To The Cast] (Click Here To Download)


Deirdre Bounds, Founder of i-to-i.com [Bio];Dr. Sally Brown, Founder of Ambassadors For Children [Bio]; Dave Douglas, Founder of Off The Rails, and Alexia Nestora, Director of North American Operations for i-to-i.com [Bio].


"We need to take, I believe, the best from the travel industry and the best from the development aid organizations because it’s a very complex area that we are working in – its not just travel and its not aid… I think it is our job within the industry be it the voluntourism, the travel industry - whatever we end up calling this. It is our job to mold people’s expectations because the challenge that we’ve always had from day one is managing the expectations of our travelers. And it’s not necessarily what travelers expect, we understand that, it’s what can we realistically offer people." Deirdre Bounds

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"I just know that we tried to test volunteer vacations and it exceeded my expectations. People love getting away and going to the beach and being on a tour bus and seeing Europe but to have that cultural connection that only voluntourism can offer is just the highlight of most people’s vacation." Dr. Sally Brown

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"What you see is that there are folks who really have their heart in what they’re trying to do. There are other people that kinda take a look at it as, “Oh My God here’s the next new wave.” And I think that’s probably the biggest challenge that we’re dealing with at this point. One is, defining what is voluntourism or what exactly does it require to be a voluntourist type of trip; and how does the end user delineate between being able to find something that is going to meet their expectations or possibly just get caught up in what the industry is touting as the next big wave." Dave Douglas

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"When you think of who is going to be off the block first, Canadians already have a service mind and a lot of their universities and a lot of their high schools have a volunteering element that is necessary. Americans have that in some private schools and its coming more and more but I feel like we’re just on the tip of the iceberg in America… it’s a really exciting time to be in the industry. I don’t see a lot of challenges; I see a lot of opportunities." Alexia Nestora

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Guest Bios

Deirdre Bounds, Founder, i-to-i.com

"Apart from memories of long nights around a camp fire, Tony's cooking, the villagers' antics, and friends for life (well some of them), I came away with the belief that given the chance there are as many entrepreneurial people there as there are here. And a conviction that it's trade not aid that can really change things."

Deirdre set up one of the world's leading travel companies, i-to-i, from her Leeds bedsit. Her fortune is now worth £16 million.

The idea came after she packed in her marketing job to teach English in Japan. On her return she was asked for advice by friends wanting to work or volunteer around the world. She set up i-to-i and was in the perfect place when the gap year boom came.

Married with two children, Deirdre claims she doesn't have time to lead a lavish lifestyle. She's up at 6.00am for a run before work and goes to bed at 8.30pm.

Company website: www.deirdrebounds.com

Sally Brown, PhD, Founder, Ambassadors For Children

Dr. Sally Brown is Founder and President of the non-profit organization, Ambassadors for Children, which offers short-term humanitarian trips and sustainable projects to serve children worldwide. She has traveled to over 130 countries and has held numerous positions from airline stewardess to C.E.O. Sally went from the galley to the boardroom in 30 years with the travel club and airline.

Sally’s passion has been traveling the world. Homebound for over six months while in third grade with rheumatic fever, she began collecting postcards from exotic vacation spots throughout the world. That was the beginning of a long, deliberate path toward a life of travel---a path that would lead Sally to every corner of the world with her career and later her family.

Sally has hosted weekly TV travel segments as well as weekly travel tips on Indy radio stations. She is the author of Where Journeys Begin—Tips for the Novice and Seasoned Traveler and a children’s adventure book entitled “Alexandra’s Travel Adventures.” As a motivational speaker, Sally especially tries to inspire people to step out of their comfort zone and find real personal growth. She says the two keys to success are passion and perseverance. She also stresses a balanced life in five areas of your life: physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and last but not least, spiritually.

Sally’s motivation centers on her gratitude for all of God’s blessings in her life. She envisions these blessings both as gifts and as the responsibility to maximize. With the advent of Ambassadors for Children, Sally tries to inspire a multitude of people to try volunteer vacations, which greatly contributes to a public awareness of third world challenges as well as life changing experiences for the volunteers. She completed her doctorates at Purdue University in tourism with the emphasis on how to expand voluntourism.

Sally enjoys exercising every day through her yoga practice, hiking and adventure travel. Founder of the Peace through Yoga centers, Sally enjoys teaching yoga as well as being a student. Her goal is to also to be the best role model as possible to her two daughters, Ashley and Laura. They have traveled with her to more than 40 countries.

Alexia Nestora, Director of North America Operations, i-to-i.com

- After graduating from Georgetown's School of Business, Alexia moved to New Zealand to introduce the concept of Pilates to a new market and start her own business.

- A year later the business was sold and her visa expired so Alexia moved on to Washington DC where she started new divisions for a gourmet food chain and eventually moved up to Director of Marketing and

- Being married to a Swiss, Alexia felt it was time to live in Zurich for awhile so she repeated what she did in New Zealand and helped introduce pilates into the Swiss market.

- While in Zurich, Alexia started a Cupcake bakery, sold it, and then took on various consulting roles for expats looking to start their own businesses

- Alexia then moved on to facilitate the marketing/ communications for a merger between BP Oil and NOVA Chemicals as well as consulting on intercultural relations for UBS Bank in Zurich.

- While planning her own around the world trip Alexia stumbled upon i-to-i and after clicking the 'jobs' tab hasn't looked back.




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