Social startup takes the philanthropic traveller to new heights
TravelGiver.com is a new website for the socially conscious traveller wanting to make a difference, at no extra cost. Consumers can book travel through the site’s travel agent affiliates, and a percentage of the cost will go towards a charitable project of their choice.
The website can be used to book flights, accommodation, packages, car rentals, cruises insurance and travel guides. Travellers can choose from over 160 grassroots initiatives set up by non-governmental organisations to assist communities in need, and allocate a percentage of the booking to that project.
“My website’s mission is to enable travellers to have truly transformational travel experiences by supporting worthwhile causes without paying extra,” says Kimi Anderson, Founder of TravelGiver.com.
While the online market is swarming with travel, charity and review websites, TravelGiver.com provides all of these functions on one platform.
“There is currently nothing else that ties travel, philanthropy, user reviews, and giving without paying more, all into one service.”
“On other sites, users are required to dip into their own pockets, but on TravelGiver.com, this is not required. It is a win-win for everyone, a great way for profits to benefit many.”
TravelGiver.com is not aiming to compete against travel industry heavyweights like Expedia and Wotif; rather, the site is aiming to appeal to a smaller niche of the market – namely, people who are interested in travel and philanthropy.
“With the global outlook being all doom and gloom, with people being more time-poor and consumers wanting to purchase and feel more connected, a lot of people still want make a difference but they don’t know how,” says Anderson.
“This is the perfect product for the growing segment of ‘slacktivisits’ and people who are looking to contribute to change.”
For each booking made, TravelGiver.com earns a commission. Half of this commission is donated to the chosen project and the other half is retained for the business.
“While a 2 to 3 percent donation does not sound like much, they add up very quickly and each little gives go a long way. To highlight this, each project on TravelGiver.com outlines how USD$5 can help. Examples include – paying a teachers salary for a week, medicine for a month, and much more,” says Anderson.
Anderson was adopted from Vietnam at a young age, and she has since enjoyed growing up in a loving family and creating one of her own. While life was good for her – having a supportive husband, a beautiful daughter, and a great job – last year, she strongly felt she needed to do more with her life.
“I have enjoyed a life full of opportunities … I feel very lucky, and by way of giving back, I launched TravelGiver.com with clear objectives – firstly, to raise awareness of amazing projects that are out there – give them a voice and help them raise funds,” says Anderson.
“Also, the site aims to provide a forum for people to research projects and destinations, share their experiences and contribute to human change. And lastly, I really wanted develop a business model that is sustainable, utilises my experience, knowledge and networks, and changes the lives of many in need.”
Anderson points out that many people these days want to make a change but don’t know where to begin.
“TravelGiver.com allows people to feel good about giving; and if they are visiting the project destination, they can volunteer or see for themselves what kind of impact they can make,” she says.
“I can guarantee you that a few hours at a good project will be the highlight of everyone’s two week holiday”.
The site has experienced numerous successes since its launch in May. Anderson began with 40 projects in four countries (Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand) and has grown to feature over 160 projects in 25 countries including Australia, Tanzania, Myanma, Peru and India.
Last week, TravelGiver.com won the Travel Start Up Tournament at the TravelTech conference; and has already been able to donate funds to various projects due to receiving bookings on a daily basis.
At the time of its launch, TravelGiver.com had four partners – Zuji, booking.com, Best Western and Accor hotels. Now the site is also affiliated with Expedia, Tingo, HostelWorld, Allianz and Lonely Planet.
Although Anderson has over fifteen years of experience in sales and marketing, with the last twelve being spent with a global accommodation chain, spreading the word has been a challenge and making sure it stays top-of-mind, so consumers remember to book through the site when organising a trip.
She has also recently come to accept that “a startup is not about perfection, it is about continual little corrections.”
“This outlook has allowed me to make decisions faster and be more proactive.”
It is through continued engagement via social media channels Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, as well as encouraging users to share their experiences with their peers and embrace the site’s social media sharing functions, that Anderson plans to generate greater buzz around business.
“I will also be encouraging the participating projects to promote TravelGiver.com to their own networks, as a lot of them already have significant, established and loyal databases and followings,” says Anderson.
“The website has been built for growth. I am aiming to add more projects and increase the amount of sharing so it becomes a valuable community research model.”
For more information, visit www.travelgiver.com.