Founder of G Adventures, the world’s most successful adventure travel company, Bruce Poon Tip has a new book out called Looptail: How One Company Changed the World by Reinventing Business. I’ll keep my review short because I was lucky enough to have the chance to do a Q+A with Bruce which can be found below. I absolutely loved this book and not only because I’m a sucker for business and entrepreneurial books, but also because of Bruce’s own personal story that goes along with it. This a guy who built up his company out of nothing but inspiration, passion and a couple of maxed out credit cards. For some time he could barely afford to feed himself so he subsisted on cheap falafel and Doritos. You can’t help but be inspired by someone who pushed through such hardship and even when it looked like then end found a way to make it happen. Now G Adventures is not only thriving, but changing the travel industry forever through sustainable tourism and giving back to the communities they travel to. I don’t want to spoil any more of the book, so I leave you with this. I could not recommend this book enough. It is a great personal story that combined with an innovative look at business and office culture that will inspire you.
Q&A with founder of G Adventures Bruce Poon Tip
1. What are ways tourists can support the local population? How should travelers think when planning a trip?
The number one way that travellers can support local communities is by avoiding all-inclusive vacations. A very little amount of the money that you paid for that all-inclusive trip stays in the location that you visited. Spread your wealth around when you are travelling – don’t always eat at the same restaurants or visit the same shops. Take lots of photos and share your experiences with your friends and through social media when you return. Get people interested in where you went and inspire them to get out there and explore new places and other cultures.
2. Where in the world can we expect G Adventures next?
We’re currently operating in 109 countries around the world, but we’re always looking for new life changing experiences for our customers. It may not necessarily be “where” to next, but more about “why” someone should travel and the impact they can have on the places that they visit when they do. We want to get to a place where going on vacation will be considered a way of giving back.
We’ve launched a line of Local Living experiences where travellers are brought close to the land and its people by being embedded in local life. This line of experiences embodies sustainable tourism and cultural preservation and has defined G Adventures as a social enterprise. It’s revolutionary for our industry and will provide our customers with a new way to travel and to truly experience cultures around the world.
3. For G Adventures 20th Birthday, you celebrated the theme of 20/20, by organizing Ignite the Nite which raised over $100,000 to build a new critical eye care facility in Cambodia. What can we expect in 2015 when G Adventures turns 25?
I can’t provide exact details at this time, but rest assured – it’s going to be a huge celebration that will change lives!
4.What advice would you give to new tourism graduates or entrepreneurs in the tourism industry?
Define your purpose in the travel industry and never take the communities where you take your customers for granted. Sustaining local ways of life is the right thing to do as well as good for your business.
5. You’re a frequent and popular public speaker for events ranging from universities to Ted Talks. What do you hope people get out of your speeches? What do you get out of public speaking?
After people hear me speak, I want them to be inspired to look at business and travel and the choices that they can make in ways that they haven’t before. It’s my hope that I can share experiences and concepts that worked for me in business and life that people can be inspired by my ideas to achieve success and find happiness.
6. Why do you think the Triple Bottom Line (Profit, People, Planet) needs to be revamped to include Passion and Purpose?
For businesses to truly achieve sustainability, the triple bottom line has to change and expand to include passion and purpose. By engaging customers, employees and everyone who touches your brand to a higher purpose and embracing the social revolution, businesses have the opportunity to connect with their customers in new ways and create a unique connection that they couldn’t previously.
The opportunity for innovation in finding these connections has never been greater. The most important thing for any business is keeping our customers happy and satisfied, because if you don’t, someone else will. Thanks to the social revolution, we are able to interact with our customers so much easier than before. It’s the goal of G Adventures to help our customers discover more passion, purpose and happiness in life.
Businesses that embrace passion and purpose in their business models will achieve great things.
7. Do you still travel as much as when you were young? How often and for how long can you get away? Where is the next destination on the map for you?
I travel more now than I ever have before, but in a very different way. G Adventures operates around the world and I manage a very busy public speaking schedule. I don’t get to wander around and discover things as much as I’d like, or as I used to, but I do get to see the world on a regular basis, which is pretty fantastic.
As for next destinations – I’d love to visit Newfoundland and New Orleans. These are two places that are relatively close to my home in Toronto, but that I have never visited.
8. What are three things you can’t travel without?
My iPhone, my MacBook and my headphones.
9. Why was now the most opportune time for you to write Looptail?
I’ve had been asked to write a book for a long time but it never seemed right until now. I feel like we’re at a tipping point with G Adventures where we are now a global social enterprise that transcends its industry. We’re doing so much more than just taking people on trips. Looptail tells the story of how we got to where we are now and shares some of my management secrets including why community, culture and karma matter in business.
10. You have a very unique home office (Base Camp) for G Adventures. How important is the office environment when trying to get the most out of your employees?
People don’t separate work and life the way that they used to. We want our employees to be as happy as possible at Base Camp or at any of our offices around the world. Happy people produce great results. Whether it’s a bubble hockey tournament, a game of StreetFighter II, popcorn or ice cream or even having a meeting in one of our themed boardrooms (including, Star Wars, Dr. Seuss and Steve Jobs) we want our people to love coming to while at the office. We embrace a culture of freedom and happiness. I always say if you love what you do, you never have to work a day in your life.
(Here’s Sonya and I in G Adventure’s Ball room.)
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