A few weeks ago, I was invited to participate in a Blog Hop about one of my favorite subjects (Writing) by two of my favorite bloggers, Susan Portnoy and Jessie Voigts.
Susan Portnoy is a safari addict, world explorer and photographer who blogs as The Insatiable Traveler. She’s traveled to over 35 countries and looks forward to every new experience, especially those that involve authentic cultures, wild animals or remnants of ancient civilizations. She is a contributor to Yahoo Travel and her work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Mashable, & more. When she’s not traveling, Susan is a veteran communications and PR consultant (most recently at Condé Nast). This fall she’ll oversee press for the return of Fashion Rocks and Movies Rock, two prime-time CBS specials that celebrate the relationship between fashion and music and movies and music respectively.
Jessie Voigts is a mom who loves sharing the world with her daughter. She has a PhD in International Education, and is constantly looking for ways to increase intercultural understanding, especially with kids. She has lived and worked in Japan and London, and traveled around the world. Jessie is the publisher of Wandering Educators, a travel library for people curious about the world, and Journey to Scotland, a resource for traveling to Scotland. She also founded the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program. She’s published six books about travel and intercultural learning, with more on the way. You can usually find her family by water, anywhere in the world.
Read on for my answers to four not-so-simple questions about Writing, and to find out which 3 blogger friends I’ve invited to join the Blog Hop… Continue reading
Let’s get the obvious out of the way, right from the get-go: Dolphin tours are bad for dolphins.
Organizations such as the Humane Society and World Animal Protection have long condemned captive Swimming With Dolphins programs for their inhumane treatment. As depicted in The Cove, these dolphins are captured in the most horrific cull you can imagine, with those that don’t pass muster immediately slaughtered.
Of the dolphins that do survive, 53% die within the first three months of captivity (causes include chemicals in the water, human infection and stress-related illnesses). Food deprivation is often used to train dolphins to perform tricks, and long-term captivity has been proven to have devastating effects on the mental, physical and emotional well-being of all cetacean species.
Like a lot of travelers, we didn’t fully understand how bad captive cetacean facilities were until a few years ago. I took my daughter to swim with dolphins in the Bahamas in 2006, then Mary and I swam with them in an open-water setting in Curacao in 2009 (just before The Cove was released). But in the years since, we’ve done our best to educate and inform our readers on the subject, including interviewing Blackfish director Gabriela Cowperthwaite about the problems with captive cetacean facilities last year.
When it comes to our long-term goals and strategies, we tend to play our cards close to our chest due to having been burned before by revealing too much, too soon, to the wrong people. But the truth is that Green Global Travel was never meant to be a blog. It wasn’t meant to be just an online magazine (which is how we’ve always branded ourselves). Instead, GGT was intended to be the first component of a long-term strategy designed with a singular mission:
We want to help make responsible, sustainable, Green Travel more mainstream.
Why? Because we believe that ecotourism can change the world for the better. We believe that sustainably managed ecotourism is better for local people, wildlife and ecosystems; better for the global economy; and better for the travelers themselves. And we believe that connecting the dots between conservationists, eco-friendly companies, media and conscious travelers is the best possible way to encourage the long-term growth of this burgeoning travel niche.
The development of Green Global Travel and its sister site, Green Travel Reviews, were our first steps towards this goal. But now we’re unveiling a bigger initiative that we hope will have a positive impact on the Business of Blogging and, ultimately, the Travel Industry as a whole.
Mary and I are proud to announce the launch of Green Travel Media LLC, the new parent company for all of our business endeavors going forward.
We’re assembling a top-notch group of experienced media professionals– journalists, editors, photographers, videographers, web and graphic designers, PR people and social media experts– who will work together to provide 21st Century media & marketing solutions for eco-conscious businesses. From content creation and social media marketing to website management and sustainability consulting, the company will be a one-stop shop for DMOs, Tour Operators and other organizations working to develop and promote ecotourism offerings on a broad scale.
Our primary mission is as follows:
The elephant in the room is that most big travel industry brands are hesitant to work with bloggers. In doing research for our forthcoming session at TBEX Athens on “How To Build a Better Blogging Brand,” we’ve been interviewing prominent travel industry PR reps about what they’re looking for, and the things some bloggers do to turn them off.
Bloggers have a reputation (often well-deserved) for overstating their influence in an effort to get freebies, not delivering on their promises, churning out substandard “How I Spent My Summer Vacation”-style stories, partying to excess, “Do you know who I am?!” attitudes, and other unprofessional conduct. Even bloggers who aspire to be professional struggle to figure out how to work with PR reps properly, unless they have a background in media or marketing.
But the biggest problem facing those brands who DO want to work with travel bloggers is the sheer overwhelming mass of bloggers to consider. There are sites like Blogger Bridge and organizations such as the Professional Travel Bloggers Association that list bloggers’ social media stats, traffic, etc. But there aren’t many outlets through which a brand can be assured of a given blogger’s quality, travel industry experience, maturity level and professionalism.
We want Green Travel Media to be a quality conduit for brands interested in working with bloggers.
Mary and I bring a combined 30 years of management experience to the table. She worked for 10 years as manager for an Industrial/Organizational consulting company, while I’ve been Managing Editor of newspapers and magazines for 20 years. We understand the professional business environment, the need for quality control, the importance of deadlines, and how to build and manage a team effectively to guarantee maximum ROI. Green Travel Media will allow us to put our skills and experience to work for travel brands we believe in.
When we first started GGT in 2010, we weren’t trying to score free trips, fund our travels, or share our personal experiences with friends and family. The site grew out of our passion for Ecotourism, combined with the frustration that most of our freelance outlets were more interested in the same old advertising-driven stories about the best spas, luxury hotels and golf resorts a given destination had to offer.
Few of my editors seemed interested in stories that mattered– stories about animal species and traditional cultures on the verge of extinction, the people and organizations devoted to protecting them, and the unique travel experiences those initiatives offered. Blogging provided the editorial freedom to tell those stories in an emotionally impactful way that could inform and inspire readers, as National Geographic had informed and inspired me.
Even now, there are surprisingly few mainstream media outlets covering Ecotourism, despite the fact that this growing travel niche is estimated to represent 6% of the world’s gross domestic product, and 11.4% of all consumer spending. In short, there’s a gaping hole in the travel industry that needs to be filled.
But over the years we’ve found quite a few talented bloggers– many of them experienced professionals with traditional media backgrounds– who have made names for themselves by specializing in “Green Travel” sub-niches, from adventure travel and cultural travel to nature/wildlife travel and geotourism.
With Green Travel Media, we’re bringing these professionals together on a project-by-project basis, connecting them with money-making opportunities that will reward them for their talent, expertise and influence without compromising their eco-friendly ethos. In short, we want to help good writers (and photographers/designers/etc) make good money by doing good work for good brands.
In addition, we want to educate up-and-coming bloggers with an interest in sustainable travel on how to improve their craft and their business, gradually developing an expansive team. To that end, GGT will soon be launching a free “Business of Blogging” series focused on professional development.
We’re hoping to be able to announce our first big Green Travel Media project in the next few weeks, and have already begun assembling a team that includes over a dozen bloggers (more than half of which are currently ranked among the Top 40 Travel Blogs in the world). We’ll be actively pursuing new clients in the months to come, and are eagerly seeking experienced writers, photographers, designers, and web developers interested in working on forthcoming projects.
At the same time, we’re already planning the next steps in our evolution. One of our big goals is to create a charitable foundation modeled after Kiva, focusing on micro-funding small scale ecotourism and conservation projects in developing nations. We’re also currently working on getting certified as sustainability consultants, with a focus on tourism and community development.
We eventually hope to make strong connections on the ground through our travels, write stories to draw more attention to noteworthy projects, and use our expertise in marketing and social media promotion to help raise funds that will allow those projects to succeed. Basically, we want to facilitate the growth of symbiotic connections that will lead to a more fruitful and sustainable travel experience for everyone involved.
Whether you’re a travel blogger, a DMO/tour operator, or a passionate conservationist developing an ecotourism-related project, we hope you’ll be interested in working together in the future. Interested parties are invited to join the Green Travel Media Facebook group and reach out to us at info@GreenTravelMedia.com. –Bret Love
If you enjoyed our post on Blogging, the Green Travel Industry & the Future of GGT, you might also like:
Whether you’re trying to Improve Your Writing or learn techniques in Blogging For Business, the first step in every mentorship we do is to ask simple questions about where you are in mastering your craft, where you want to go, and what obstacles you’ve encountered along the way.
When you answer, we listen. And from there, it’s a simple 1-on-1 process of helping you find your way over, around, or through the roadblocks on your unique path to success as a writer and/or blogger.
Less than an hour ago I found out my friend was dead. I’ll acknowledge that this is not the most eloquent way to begin. But, then again, death is not elegant, poetic, or convenient. Especially not when you’re a relatively young woman working your ass off to make your dreams come true.
We first met Kimmy Hayes about a year ago. Referred to us by editor/friend Emma Jane Higgins, the sunny redhead I always thought of as “Kimmy Cupcakes” was relatively new to the travel blogging sphere at the time, heard about our internship program, and reached out to see if she could help with our social media and learn a few inside tips in the process.
Mary and I work with a lot of interns. Most are in it for the resume-padding experience, college course credit, and perhaps a recommendation when they graduate and apply for full-time jobs. They come and go with the seasons, never staying in one place long enough to put down roots. It’s a business transaction for them, pure and simple.
But Kimmy was different: From the very beginning, she was eager to learn, passionate about building her Afterglobe brand, and a sponge for any insights we were willing to share. Along with Emma and Meg Jerrard, Kimmy formed the core of our GGT team. We became friends. In recent months I had been mentoring her on building her brand, and we gained immense pleasure from watching her grow as a blogger over time.
What we loved most about Kimmy was the enthusiasm she had for helping others, using her own story to inspire others to pursue their passions. She and Meg formed several Facebook groups to provide support for beginning and intermediate bloggers, creating a cooperative spirit of community that helped many brands to blossom. Whatever Kimmy learned, she shared selflessly, helping hundreds of people in the process.
Kimberly “Kimmy Cupcakes” Hayes passed away in a tragic car accident in Oregon on Friday. She and her husband were traveling on I-84 in what authorities described as extremely icy conditions when Drew lost control of their SUV and crashed into a tree. Although both of them were wearing seatbelts, Kimmy was gone before the EMTs even made it to the scene of the accident. She was 37 years old.
I sincerely wish there were some sage wisdom to be gained from our dear friend’s passing– some semblance of reason and order that would allow us to learn from Kimmy’s death, just as we learned from her life. The only lesson I’m left with is that life is much too short, but Kimmy didn’t need to die in order to teach us that: Living life to its fullest and making the most of every day is what Kimmy’s work was all about.
It pains me to admit that there’s nothing I can say or do that will make this OK. It pains me to know that Drew is still in the hospital in critical condition and, if he does recover physically, he will likely never recover from the grief of losing his beautiful best friend. But it pains me worst of all to know that Kimmy never got to go on that amazing trip she and Drew had been working so hard to save up for.
This is the second time in 6 months a blogger in our community has passed away unexpectedly. Losing a friend is never easy, but– due to the timing and the circumstances and our close connection with Kimmy– this one feels especially hard, like losing a member of the family.
I know Kimmy’s spirit is still with us, and I feel extremely fortunate to have gotten to know and work with her over the past year. She was truly a light of inspiration to so many people, and I hope the other side brings her peace and paradise.
To Drew, Kimmy’s daughter Amanda, and the rest of her family, we express our deepest condolences for your tragic loss. Know that Kimmy’s life and work had an impact on many people, and that her illuminating presence will be dearly missed by us all. Rest in peace, Kimmy. –Bret Love