Celebrating Collaboration on our 10th Covid-19 Hangout Call
When the world ground to a halt earlier this year, leaving lodges and operators staring down a long road of uncertainty, The Long Run’s instinct was to rally together. Our organisation was founded on the belief that we can achieve more together than we can alone, and that collaboration is fundamental to accelerating the sustainable travel movement. Today, as we gather together online from all four corners of the globe for our 10th weekly Hangout Call, these beliefs are stronger than ever. As founder of Chumbe Island (Tanzania), Sibylle Riedmiller, put it, “These hangouts have become a lifeline in these difficult times.”
To celebrate ten weeks of togetherness, determination, sharing, learning and clinging onto optimism, here’s a round-up of some key themes so far:
Nature Never Stops
During our first Hangout, where members shared their hopes and fears, Eloise Best from Borana (Kenya) spoke about the reassuring continuity of nature. Alongside this optimism, there was a united sense that members and partners needed a means to engage with guests during these troubling times. We concluded that during this crisis travel enthusiasts need sensitive, inspirational stories that are completely removed from sales. The following week we launched our #NatureNeverStops campaign. Sharing posts across Instagram and a rolling blog, the campaign has received 2,000 entries and counting. Check out some highlights here.
Postpone don’t Cancel
The agenda quickly moved onto establishing best practice when it comes to cancellations, deposits, and refunds. Since Long Run members use the revenue made through tourism to fund vital conservation and community projects, the prospect of losing revenue and bookings doesn’t just impact the bottom-line, it endangers lives and fragile ecosystems. An overwhelming majority of our members have been encouraged by guests postponing rather than cancelling trips, proving that their 4C focus (Conservation, Community, Culture and Commerce) generates loyalty and goodwill.
Acting Today for a Better Tomorrow
Recognising that travel may be stalled for the foreseeable future, we soon turned our attention towards fundraising. Members in Africa, Asia and South America have expressed concerns that the lack of tourism not only withdraws funds from 4C projects, but without the watchful eyes of guests and guides, there’s a greater risk of illegal poaching, hunting, fishing and other harmful activities. Several members have shared in detail their fundraising approaches from adopting an acre to purchasing credit. To support members, Phillipe Moreau introduced the crowd-funding platform Greener Act, and NEPCon’s fundraising team guided members through funding proposals. The Long Run has also launched an umbrella fundraising appeal; Acting Today for a Better Tomorrow. Find out more here.
While sharing experiences and best practice, it’s been clear that supporting communities of suppliers, local people and employees have been central to each members’ Covid-19 response. It’s been heart-warming to hear these stories, from Sumba Hospitality Foundation installing hand sanitiser stations at local hubs to Sasaab Lodge (Kenya) setting up Tippy Tap stations for the surrounding Samburu villages. At Kualoa Ranch (Hawaii), a new weekly farmers market helps to feed local people, and at Borana (Kenya), funds have been channelled to its Mobile Clinic that sees more than 700 people each month. The sense of community within The Long Run has also kept us all going, from members sharing policies and ways to keep employees on board to partners (thanks to Green Traveller, Stevie Mann Photography and Eifsur) offering complimentary support. Read more here.
Strengthening Business Resilience
We’ve known for a long time that sustainable operations make good business sense, but this crisis has reminded us that sustainability is also fundamental to business resilience. To better understand what this means for Long Run members, we had several discussions around how best to diversify income streams while tourism is on hold. After all, it’s hardly sustainable for people’s livelihoods and vast swathes of ecosystems to be dependent on tourism alone (this is a fundamental part of how The Long Run supports its members via the 4th C: Commerce). Members shared ideas for alternative revenue streams, including small-scale agriculture, hosting paying researchers, and recycling schemes.
Environmental Management Comes Into Its Own
The Covid-19 crisis has highlighted that environmental management is not a nice to have for the sake of the planet. Still, it could be the difference between paying salaries or making employees redundant, or staying afloat or not. No one makes this case clearer than Long Run Affiliate Member Patricio Gonzalez Morel from Efisur. During an enlightening presentation, Patricio, alongside Long Run properties Nikoi Island (Indonesia) and Borana (Kenya), shared how environmental management can save hotels and lodges thousands of pounds a year. For example, water and energy efficiency lowers Nikoi Island’s operating costs by US$ 9,500 per room per year. Andrew Dixon from Nikoi also highlighted that being self- or locally-sufficient makes a business less dependent on complex supply chains that tend to collapse in a time of crisis.
Preparing for the New Normal
As we dare to wonder when tourism might return, last week, newly anointed Covid Chief (and Sustainability Manager) at Kualoa Ranch in Hawaii, Stephanie Mock, introduced Kualoa’s phased plan to ensure the safety of employees and guests in the future. Stephanie’s detailed presentation included how to effectively communicate new measures to employees, how to ensure that each team member is bought in, and how to work with your destination to distil complete confidence. The discussion also covered how to modify procedures for payment, movement around a property, and activities for social distancing, and how to meet hygienic standards in the most sustainable way possible. It was wonderful to hear other Long Run members sharing their procedures, particularly Six Senses and Wilderness Safaris — they highlighted the role mental health awareness and technology will also play.
If in the future people will travel less, we believe they will want to travel better. This doesn’t only mean visiting responsible destinations, but engaging with them and the self on a deeper level. To understand how members might go about this, it was wonderful to welcome Mona Lewicka from the Transformational Travel Council to share insights on our 10th Hangout call. Mona talked members through Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, what travelling with heart means, and how to enhance the traveller journey before and after the trip itself. Jens Kozany also shared how Segera (Kenya) is using this downtime to plan “the next stage of the Segera production” — what’s the setting, who are the main characters, what are the leading stories, and how can we improve it?
Finally, we’d like to echo Simon Heyes’ (Affiliate Member Senderos) reflections and thanks to everyone that has helped with these calls, “I’ve felt supported, challenged and inspired by the Long Run’s hangouts these last weeks. It’s wonderful to have a group of like-minded people in love with nature and passionate about people and place, motivated to making this world better, and importantly with a wealth of practical information and experience to share willingly and openly to help achieve that. Thank you all and well done the Long Run for its facilitation and curation.”
We will travel again, and when we do, we’ll travel better. If you’d like to find out more details about joining The Long Run, please get in touch here.