In the previous blog, Saskia Griep, Founder of Better Places Travel shared details about what the platform is and how it benefits the traveller with a unique experience, and the local communities across various destinations. In this 2nd part of the chat, read how you could be a Local Travel Expert and trends in Responsible Travel, she feels will stand out in 2018.
OPR: How could one become a Local Travel Expert?
Saskia: The most important criteria for becoming a local travel expert for Better Places is a passion for responsible adventure travel. We choose local experts who are already set up as a travel agency and have contacts with local suppliers, and are looking for increased access to the European/international market place and traveller. We like our local experts to have some experience with offering 100% tailor-made full service tours, in a sustainable fashion, and are willing and able to scale up. Finally, we provide all our experts with our own Code of Conduct which sets out the sustainable travel practices we expect all our suppliers to adhere to.
OPR: Could you share some examples of travelers experiences with BPT – some, where people have just discovered this way of travelling and the takeways they’ve shared?
Saskia: Sure! Here are a couple of quotes from our travellers highlighting why they chose and were happy with Better Places:
“The contact with locals and overnight stays at their homes made the biggest impact on us”
“Aside from the beautiful places we visited, we especially appreciated the contact with the local population (incl. overnight stays at a coffee and cacao plantation), local guides with a lot of knowledge of history and culture and a passion for sustainability and local, social projects.”
“We loved all the places we stayed at; a great variation between small scale authentic fincas, eco lodges, cabanas, tents,… The local guides were very professional and passionate about their country, province, etc.”
“We had a perfect trip in Suriname with Better Places. All the local guides we had were very knowledgeable, and we had a lot of contact with the locals.”
“The personal attention from the moment we submitted our request until we reached the destination was amazing. Even during our trip, we continued to receive regular messages from Elena (Better Places’ local expert) with tips for great places to eat or visit.”
The most shared takeaway we usually get is that the travellers enjoyed the contact with locals, the 100% tailor-made approach and indeed our focus on sustainability.
OPR: Which are some destinations seeing traction amongst travelers as a ‘place of choice’ when it comes to experiencing Responsible Travel?
Saskia: Among the destinations we offer, we are seeing quite a bit of traction for Peru and Costa Rica, Indonesia, Tanzania, as well as Cuba. In Peru we work together with a local agent who is deeply committed to sustainable tourism, and is involved with developing Community Based Tourism (CBT) initiatives to combat over tourism and bring income to areas and suppliers that otherwise wouldn’t be able to benefit from the positive impact of tourism. Costa Rica in turn has benefited from focused destination management and there is just such a variety of small scale eco lodges and well run nature parks on offer for the responsible traveller. In Indonesia and Tanzania sustainable travel and contacts with locals works seems to work well in practice, and in Cuba we are committed to offering the best casas particulares and contact with local guides and drivers. All this of course contributes to the popularity of these destinations with the responsible traveller.
OPR: What trends do you see picking up within this space in 2018?
Saskia: We’re seeing purposeful and meaningful travel becoming more and more mainstream, with travellers increasingly on the lookout for more authentic and responsible experiences. Similarly, there is an increased focus on the personalized and personal approach and unique experiences, with price in some cases being less important than satisfaction and fulfillment. This is a trend we only see growing in the coming year.
OPR: Tell us more about your recent expansion and future plans to grow Better Places Travel.
Saskia: We are planning to add quite a few more destinations to Better Places Travel in 2018, and are also aiming to expand our offer into Europe, predominately South (East) Europe – a first for us! We are also committed to helping more local experts become Travelife certified, helping them implement easy to use time saving travel software and providing guidance where needed on implementation of back office systems. In terms of marketing, we are focusing on increasing our exposure in the international market place, growing the community of likeminded travellers, suppliers and online influencers – and of course increasing the number of bookings. Finally we are working together with a consultant to map out ways in which we can better outline the impact (economic, social, environmental) of Better Places and ‘our kind of travel’ on our local suppliers and destinations. An ambitious project for sure, but one we are very excited about… Watch this space!