Bruce recently spoke at a conference in Toronto called SHIFT:Innovation, where he spoke about the quintuple bottom line that he embraces at G Adventures and that he wrote about in Looptail. Watch the video to find out more.
EcoTraveller interviewed Bruce during his recent trip to Australia to chat about Looptail. From the interview:
What has been your most challenging part of running the company?
There have been lots of challenges. I mean, we financed ourselves. [Thinks hard] There are two things: people understanding what we do, and people understanding what our true purpose is as a business. Because when we come to a region they need to know us. For example, two weeks ago we were in Columbia and I met with the Minister of Tourism and the doors were open for us. I met the CEO of Avianca, their international airline, too. The country’s open for us because we have a reputation there and we know we can have a positive impact on countries. Ten years ago we didn’t have that, and people didn’t understand who we were. They just thought “that’s just another travel company”. Once we started building relationships within other businesses and community projects everything became much easier.
I think the other challenge for us in our industry is greenwashing. With the extent of which we do things, and the true passion we have at what we do, companies that are completely profit-driven conglomerates greenwash their businesses, make people think that that’s what they do, and that they’re equal to us in every way. We spend so much time with so many people on the ground to make our company work every day. Everything is just disrespected when companies in our space greenwash their all-inclusive businesses when it doesn’t benefit local people at all. One company claims to be the largest all-inclusive company in the world, yet buys out small adventure companies and uses them to greenwash their brand. It’s unbelievable what’s going on.
Click here to read the rest of the article on EcoTraveller.
Bruce was recently in Australia to promote the launch of Looptail and sat down with Places We Go to discuss responsible tourism, G Adventures and, of course, Looptail.
From the interview:
Q – G Adventures is proudly built on a responsible travel model. How does this translate into local experiences when you join a G Adventures trip?
A – Everyone travels to see and do amazing things and experience the natural and cultural wonders of the world around us. If they are polluted, overcrowded or run down no one will want to visit and then no one benefits.
We are always looking for ways to reduce our impacts on the area and keep destinations healthy. This means our travellers on G Adventures trips will stay in local home stays or locally run hotels. They’ll take local transport and eat at locally owned restaurants. We try to incorporate Planeterra projects into as many trips as we possibly can as well, so travellers can really experience the place they are visiting. But our business is about creating happiness and community. Happiness drives performance, allows us to maintain a global company culture that delivers on a very aggressive brand promise that differentiates itself based on our purpose driven business model.
Bruce was interviewed by Deepak Chopra for his new show One World with Deepak Chopra.
You can watch the trailer of the interview right here.
From the article:
“Twenty-three years ago, Bruce Poon Tip founded adventure travel company G Adventures, now operating in 100 countries and generating $170 million in revenue last year. And when the man who has hiked to the South Pole, played with otters in Southern Guyana and helped kick off the United Nations’ Year of Sustainable Tourism in 2002 decided to write a business book, Looptail, it was the Dalai Lama who came to his service.
“I went to the Dalai Lama and told him that our business, and what we stand for, and what this book was about, was giving businesses a playbook to transcend their industries, transcend their products and engage their customers to a much higher purpose,” Poon Tip told Upstart Business Journal.”
“Our competitors are huge holding companies,” says Poon Tip, “I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to outspend them. One of the things we could do was create a connection with our customers that transcended what we do. It wasn’t just about travel; it was about creating a purpose that didn’t exist, that other companies couldn’t duplicate no matter how much money they threw at it.”
When Bruce hired me to help him accelerate sales, we weren’t starting from scratch. G Adventures already had a strong sense of purpose; they were in the business of changing people lives through travel. Working with his sales team we established their Noble Purpose: “We help people discover more passion, purpose, and happiness.” We then worked with key leaders around the globe to drive it through the organization.
OF: What did G Adventures gain from eliminating things like traditional titles and functions, such as CEO and human resources?
BPT: It helped provide a sense of freedom, as well as help underline what’s most important in our business: the customer.
Everything about our success is based around our customer service and if we don’t take care of our customers, somebody else will. To do that well you have to manage your people differently. To drive a culture that is customer obsessed is hard if you don’t understand that it’s all about two things: happiness and people.
Human resources was created to take away people’s freedom, which restricts happiness. It is a department that is set up so companies avoid errors as they get bigger while systematically eliminating both people’s freedom and the ability to create happiness. It takes a bit of faith, and that is where karma creeps into business because you have to believe that if you get your people and culture right, everything will fall into place.
OF: In the Innovation section of the book, you say that “your culture is your brand.” Are you redefining both?
BPT:I don’t think you can ever stop redefining your culture or your brand. They are living, breathing entities that have very little to do with you and more about what people think of you. I think the great misconception in today’s business world is the ownership of brand. You’re only as good as what people think of you and you’re only as strong as your weakest person or department.
Entrepreneurs are notoriously paranoid and never settle. They always think they can do things better and spend many sleepless nights thinking about how to achieve this. Good entrepreneurs realize early on that people are what drive a successful business. You can never stop redefining your culture, which in turn breathes life into your brand.
Again, your brand is nothing without people and what they think of you.
Verge: Why did you want to write a business book, rather than writing about travel?
Poon Tip: I was very apprehensive to write a book. There’s a loss of personal privacy when writing a book, but my motivation was to have a positive impact on businesses. As a company, we’re constantly trying to influence traveler’s minds—but as an individual, I was interested in having a greater impact on how people look at businesses through sharing my experience of how we engage our customers.
(Photo Credit: Darren Calabrese/National Post)
“Looptail is an inspirational story of my experience in business. It’s a good story of how to build a business based on social responsibility and social enterprise. My demands as a public speaker have exceeded my ability [to speak]. My greatest impact is when I can get in front of people. I can’t do the amount of speaking engagements globally that I get asked to. I thought the book would be a better vehicle to get the message of what my company does and what we do across, to hopefully have a positive impact on how people start businesses or retrofit their businesses to focus on people, culture, and social responsibility.”