more than a community for travel professionals
By Alex Farlander, founder of Travelhood
June 24, 2024
Travelhood is a community for tourism professionals.

But it is more than just "a community". Travelhood is a competitive advantage for the next generation of experiences.

Here's what it means:
Travelhood Manifesto
Hi, this is Alex.

To understand Travelhood, let me tell you a short story of where I’m coming from.

I was born and raised in Siberia, and I’ve been a nature guide since high school.

After many years in the industry, I had a fairly successful tour operator company, working in 30+ countries worldwide.

Alex and his ancient friend in the Altai mountains of Siberia
We were serving a rapidly growing Russian-speaking market, taking people to the most spectacular places in the world. I even won the “Best Guide of Russia” award in ecotourism.

But then, the war in Ukraine has started. So I shut down my business and moved away from this nightmare, starting literally a new life. You can read the full story here.

But I don’t want to start just another tour operator.
First, I don’t really have a home destination anymore.
Second, I think that the travel business needs to be reimagined.
Travelhood is my attempt to reimagine how the tourism business could look like.
It is a long journey, but the first step is building the community.

Travel professionals all over the world do the same thing – organize experiences for our guests.

But we are not competitors to each other, because we work in different destinations.

Moreover, from my experience, even those businesses that do exactly the same, and work in the same destination, gain more from collaboration. Because it’s better to increase your collective market share rather than fight for small pieces of a big pie (which is broken anyway).

As I said before,

travel business needs to be reimagined

Before the war, I had a long depression.
I felt that something was wrong.

Here’s an example.
We had an amazing tour to Argentina and Brazil in our portfolio.
People loved it.

You go to Buenos Aires, then to Tierra del Fuego and Ushuaia, then to the magnificent glaciers of Patagonia, then to Iguazu Falls, and finish in Rio de Janeiro.

Great time spent, life-long memories.

However, it’s 4 domestic + 2 international flights (usually across the Atlantic).

7+ tons of carbon emissions only for flights, within 2 weeks.
If you wonder what’s the acceptable amount of carbon emissions per person, it is 2 tons.
Per year.
For everything – including vacation, heating, electricity, work commute, and reading this page.

Currently, 2 tons is the average emission level of a North Korean citizen.
In times when we worry about the climate crisis and doing business sustainably, things like this can’t exist. And when you spend just a couple of days in each place, that’s not a mindful way to travel. There’s simply not enough time to connect with each place.

But what would be a better way to travel then?

With this question, I went on the task of studying the experience of international travel companies. Those who say they are sustainable, pro-nature, bla-bla-bla.

And I discovered that this is mostly bla-bla-bla.

If you look into the tour portfolio of most international tour operators who claim to be “sustainable”, you see the same problems –
  • too many domestic flights,
  • too shallow dive into the place,
  • generic experiences (central squares, big churches, international hotels),
  • and many other problems.

Things that made me depressed in my business 10 years ago are regular business practices for big tour operators.

They say “That’s what our customers want, so if we stop, we go out of business”.

So after 10 years of studying the international travel industry, I can sum up my observations in three simple words:

tourism is broken

In my opinion, most of the travel industry can’t keep doing things the way they do.

But they keep doing it because that's how business works.

That’s why we need to do things better.

Travelhood is the way how to unite our forces and have an impact locally. And if we are on the right path, we will collectively have a global impact, too.

So if you are a local (or an international) tourism professional, join Travelhood, your new family of like-minded travel geeks.
What is our plan:
In the upcoming months, we will be doing a lot of community work.

Inspiring events, educational courses, and community connections.

We need to speak the same language and grow understanding of each other.

But Travelhood has bigger plans than just getting together and learning from each other.

We want to create synergy – have stronger businesses and have a positive impact on our places.

For that, we will have more advanced forms of collaboration.
1. Collective sales channels.
Everyone from Travelhood can apply to be a local partner of Geographic, our B2C sales platform. If the Geographic model is successful, there will be more projects like that.
2. Referral program
Travelhood members can recommend each other to their clients, and receive a commission.

For example, it’s useful if you have an email newsletter – you can suggest your subscribers plan their next trip with Travelhood partners, and you receive a commission for bookings.

This way, your email newsletter will become an extra revenue source (and other Travelhood partners will recommend you).
3. Collective social media accounts.
Lifting social media for local operators is hard. But for a collective of local operators, it’s easy.

We will be much more visible if we share our pictures, videos, and stories in a collective Instagram or Tiktok.
4. Collective action.
Website link exchange for higher SEO visibility. Social media likes and comments for algorithm boost. Members directory for easy partnership lookup.
5. Business & tech support.
Need a website redesign? We have a great, positive-impact supplier for that. Want to develop self-guided tours? We have a supplier + private coaching on self-guided tour design. Regular masterminds for inspiration and help. Weekly 1-on-1 introductions for networking.
6. Anything else that we can do together better than alone?
Do you have more ideas? Just let me know.
As you see, collaboration can be a strong competitive advantage.
Who Travelhood is for?
Travelhood, however, isn't for everyone.

Travelhood may not be that great for companies who intentionally do greenwashing – and certainly, we’ll have nothing to talk about with people who think that running business-as-usual is the way to go.

We are the best fit for small tourism businesses that directly serve travelers.
You don’t need to work with visitors 100% of the time. It can be one of your revenue sources.

Join Travelhood if you are:
  • Travel organizer: tour operator, DMC, guide, transportation providers, car/bike/kayak rental, and everyone who connects places into routes
  • Experience provider: activities, workshops, food and drinks, performances, and everyone who welcomes guests on local experiences
  • Hospitality host: hotels, holiday homes, airbnbs, farmstays, campings – everyone who wants to provide more than a room
Travelhood is also great for travel agents, advisors, coaches, influencers, and everyone who inspires people to travel mindfully.

Travelhood is happy to connect with technology providers, business consultants, and like-minded communities.

Travelhood fits both seasoned tourism professionals and those who only aspire to start.

Travel is inspiring. People travel to feel alive.

It is a great mission to help them.

About the author
Alex Farlander
Alex is a travel entrepreneur. Being born and raised in Siberia of late- and post-USSR, he spent 20 years of his tourism career working with hundreds of remote destinations worldwide. He is currently based in Mexico and works full-time to help travel entrepreneurs grow better businesses.

@alexfarlander everywhere
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