MAKE TRAVEL MATTER®: Why developing meaningful travel experiences has never been more important

MAKE TRAVEL MATTER®: Why developing meaningful travel experiences has never been more important

MAKE TRAVEL MATTER®: Why developing meaningful travel experiences has never been more important

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Are you searching for a richer, deeper, more meaningful travel experience? Well, you’re not alone. The desire for meaningful travel experiences has never been greater. Described as “the conscious comeback.”, the pandemic is leading people to be more aware and thoughtful of their impact on the world. And our MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experiences have never been more important.

In September 2020 we set out an ambitious 5 year sustainability strategy, How We Tread Right, and to share our progress to date we’ve released our first official Impact Report. A key goal was to include at least one MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experience on 50% of Insight premium guided tours by 2025, and we are very proud to say we have already surpassed this, with MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experiences featuring on 94% of our tours.

To tell us more about MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® and why developing meaningful travel experiences has never been more important, we spoke to Lucie Dalila, Sustainability Manager – Travel Experiences at Insight.

THE YEARNING FOR MEANINGFUL TRAVEL

The American Express Global Travel Trends Report 2022 saw 78% of respondents wanting to have a positive impact on the community they are visiting, while 62% agree they want to be more thoughtful about where and how they travel. Post-pandemic, travelers are more conscious of their impact on the world. In a recent Virtuoso survey, 82 percent of travelers said the pandemic has made them want to travel more responsibly in the future and 78 percent said it’s important to choose travel companies that have a strong sustainability policy.

LONG-TERM IMPACT

“It has never been so important to look after the places that we go to, in a way that will have a long-term impact,” Lucie explains. “Tourism as a whole is looking at building back better following the pandemic, but it is important that we are not coming back with temporary initiatives. This is why MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experiences are so unique and so vital – we create a long term and direct impact to our destinations, providers and communities.

“Meaningful travel is also very important to our guests, and we want to exceed their expectations. Even though the experience might be for just a couple of hours, the memory that you leave with, this feeling of having contributed, it stays with you forever.”

THE ORIGINS OF MAKE TRAVEL MATTER®

“Sustainable travel has always been a high priority for Insight Vacations and the Travel Corporation” Lucie tells us, “And before we established MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experiences, we always offered guests meaningful experiences.

“One of the first was visiting Marta in Perugia Italy, an inspirational lady dedicated to preserving ancient weaving techniques vital to Perugian heritage. We always made a special stop at her textile workshop with time for guests to meet her and talk to her, and through our visit we contributed to the meaningful work that she does. We’re proud to still be in partnership with Marta today.”

UN GLOBAL GOALS

This MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experience directly advances UN Global Goal 5 and 11, through its promotion of a women-owned business and its preservation of local traditions and heritage.

Read more: 5 MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experiences that will connect you to extraordinary people

MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experiences were developed in 2020, in consultation with travel industry experts and set within the framework of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. “MAKE TRAVEL MATTER ® Experiences are unique and innovative, no other company has gone as far as we have in the industry” Lucie explains. “[Through MAKE TRAVEL MATTER ® Experiences] we have the power to change the travel industry and transform the way we think about the travel experience, for the mutual benefit of travelers and the people and places they visit.

FINDING UNIQUE EXPERIENCES

A huge amount of work goes into sourcing the experiences and it is a team effort. “I work with a fantastic network to find these great places, people and stories that connect meaningfully to our guests” says Lucie. “They are not easy to find because we are going beyond travel industry suppliers and vendors and looking at farmers, entrepreneurs, dancers. We are interested in any expert in their field and also collaborate with NGOs and community projects.

“A lot comes through word of mouth, from friends and colleagues. And from our current partners and industry colleagues. That is the richness of travel, it is being able to tap into the network and go beyond what you find in guidebooks. Many of our MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experiences don’t have a website, or don’t speak English. Any time I hear of someone traveling or I meet someone new I ask them, ‘do you have any ideas?!’”

DANCING WITHOUT BARRIERS - VIENNESE WALTZ WORKSHOP

One of the newest experiences is an inclusive workshop in Vienna, where guests take to the floor in a Viennese Waltz dance workshop designed to support the visually impaired community.

Lucie tells us how this came about. “When looking for an experience for our guests in Vienna, one of our Travel Directors recommended the dance studio as a possible partner.”

The studio offers workshops for school groups, adults, children, and for people with disabilities. Through their foundation they support children from disadvantaged families and children with a visual impairment.

“We first met with them in 2020 and were looking to create an experience where guests could try something new and challenge themselves, whilst at the same time experiencing authentic Vienna.”

The team worked together with the studio to develop a unique experience for Insight Guests, Dancing without Barriers’, which takes place in the dark in a specially designed sensory studio. This specifically designed workshop focuses on inclusion and education around the topic of visual impairment.

“The workshop talks about the relationship between dance partners, and how we approach space with a visual impairment,” Lucie continues. “It offers a sensory way to experience having an impairment, whilst at the same time enjoying the tradition and joy of the Viennese waltz.

“A lot of work goes into building the experience, starting with educating the experience provider on why it will be meaningful for our guests, and making sure they are ready to welcome guests. We listen to guest feedback and make any necessary adjustments to ensure we stay relevant.”

UN GLOBAL GOALS

This experience directly advances UN Global Goal 10, as through the workshop, the studio is raising awareness of inequalities and working to reduce them, as well as supporting disadvantaged families and people with disabilities.Discover on: The Bohemian, Country Roads of Bavaria, Switzerland & Austria, Highlights of Eastern Europe, Easy Pace Budapest, Vienna & Prague

THE DRIVING FORCE

“Guest feedback really spurs us on, especially seeing the joy on people’s faces,” says Lucie. She goes on to talk about a restaurant called WeExist, in Brussel. “It’s a Syrian initiative supporting immigrants as they build a new life,” Lucie goes on. “Launched by a group of migrants and grown from a catering business to a restaurant though crowdfunding and hard work, this is a huge achievement. Through our regular visits we can support them in their growth and work. And the food is delicious!”

“What makes it so special, and this is the beauty of our MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experiences, is the people you meet there. They can freely talk about their lives in a truly empowering way, so guests leave the restaurant with a full belly and full heart. It is about the value that they share, the meaningful exchanges that they have with people.

“We greatly favor organizations that are built with social and environmental benefit in mind, representing a true community-centric return to travel post COVID-19. The experiences are chosen specifically for the positive social or environmental impact they have on their communities and those who experience them.”

UN GLOBAL GOALS

This experience directly advances UN Global Goal 10, as the business strives to reduce inequalities for minorities and underrepresented people.

Discover on: Country Roads of Belgium, Luxembourg & the Netherlands

“We are very proud of the amount of work that has been achieved so far,” says Lucie. “There is a wide network of people involved and it has been challenging developing experiences like these in uncertain pandemic times. There is still a lot more exciting work to be done, and we are always fine-tuning experiences to enhance the guest experience and to maximize our positive impact.”

To find out more about how we MAKE TRAVEL MATTER®, take a look at our Impact Report