Saturday,  July 2, 2022  1:54 am

TTC and ME to WE come together for 2018

TTC and ME to WE come together for 2018
Marc Kielburger, co-founder of ME to WE and Free the Children; Brett Tollma, CEO and founder of The Travel Corporation and the TreadRight Foundation; Craig Kielburger, co-founder of ME to WE and Free the Children at the newly opened WE Global Learning Centre in Toronto.
Christine Hogg

Christine Hogg is the Associate Digital Editor at PAX Global Media. Prior to joining PAX, she obtained her Honours BA in Journalism from the University of Toronto. Upon graduating, she went on to write for several travel publications while travelling the world. Her longest trip was a three-week stint in Europe, and the shortest was a 16-hour adventure in Iceland. Get in touch:

Last week, brothers Marc and Craig Kielburger, co-founders of ME to WE and WE Charity were at the WE Global learning Centre in Toronto to celebrate their partnership with The Travel Corporation, and newly-formed venture with the TreadRight Foundation.

The WE Global Learning Centre opened on Sept. 27 as a destination for young people and changemakers around the world to gain access to valuable resources and technology required to make a difference.

In attendance was Brett Tollman, founder and CEO of The Travel Corporation and the TreadRight Foundation, which is a non-profit organization that works to protect the environments and the communities that are directly impacted by tourism. The Travel Corporation and ME to WE have recently partnered to promote a more hand-crafted, sustainable kind of travel experience for those travellers looking to do more on vacation.

_MG_8806.JPG Brett Tollman, founder and CEO, The Travel Corporation and TreadRight Foundation; Craig Kielburger, co-founder, ME to WE and WE Charity.

“There’s more and more interest in people wanting to take meaningful trips, which are very-appropriately called purpose-driven trips,” Tollman said. “We’ve struggled for maybe 15 years for wanting to offer voluntourism trips, but never felt that we could do something meaningful, so I’ve always stayed away from it because we like to do the things we do well, and so in meeting these remarkable human beings, the best news to me was that we could find a partner who does these trips so well and has done them for so long. They’ve proven that they’re established and successful, but most importantly, they’re making an amazing difference in those communities.”

As it stands, The Travel Corporation has several brands under its umbrella which will take travellers to the destinations offered on the new 2018 ME to WE trips--Trafalgar, Luxury Gold with Insight, Uniworld, Contiki, African Travel, Lion World, and Adventure World. “Europe is home to some of our key destinations, but there isn’t a lot to do in those parts of the world, given the strong economies and length of establishment,” Tollman said. “It makes sense that in the more remote economies and countries that are struggling and need all the help that they can get. Having been there personally, I’ve learned even more, not just how good they are as an experience for the traveller, but how meaningful they are.”

The Travel Corporation’s new partnership with ME to WE means that the ME to WE trips have been integrated into TTC’s own 2018 itineraries. “We’ve never done a partnership like this before, and we [TTC] like to do everything from A to Z, because that way you can control the experience and ensure outstanding quality,” Tollman said. “It’s the first of its kind for us, but more importantly, from our team’s standpoint, and as human beings, the opportunity to help and support an incredible organization like this has added to morale and the comradery that we have within our own business, where we can talk with such pride, and they feel apart of trying to help the remarkable WE Charity.”

_MG_8815.JPG The newly re-opened WE Global Learning Centre in Toronto, Ontario.

This year, ME to WE is offering three new travel destinations: Rajasthan, India, the Amazon Basin, and Kenya where opportunity abounds to create meaningful, social impact. “Travelling with a purpose starts with 23 years of sustainable development work, and the model itself on the ground,” said Craig Kielburger, co-founder, ME to WE and WE Charity. “It’s a five-pillar model as education, clean water and sanitation, health care, food security and job creation, and driven first and foremost by our social purpose, we are a registered charity operating this model in countries around the world, and we phase out after approximately five years for the community to own, operate, and sustain the development projects.”

Travellers can get involved on the new ME to WE trips in a number of different ways, including contributing to building a new college in Kenya, which is ME to WE’s most recent project this year. “The very act of being there as a traveller, even if you never choose to pick up a brick or lay the foundation, that funds the development work that takes place, and you contribute to the community,” Kielburger said. “On top of that, there are service opportunities, and we lay out a culturally-immersive experience that is very authentic opportunity to connect. To have this deeply meaningful and authentic experiences is in every way community-led, and it is purpose-driven from the proceeds of your trip, to the respectful and engaging cultural immersion of learning both ways, from the opportunities of service, it’s designed so that when you leave and continue your journey, our team continues doing that development work on the ground for 365 days of the year in partnership and friendship with the community.”

With the rise of experiential travel, many tourists want their visiting time in a country to count, which is why sustainability is so important, as Kielburger points out. “Sustainability is often seen as only an environmental aspect which is incredibly important, but there’s also cultural sustainability to make sure that culture thrives, and socio-economic sustainability, to make sure that solid development can happen in the community,” Kielburger said. “These trips are truly built with the full spectrum of sustainable travel in mind.”

“In each of these three countries, we have a very deep and long-standing connection to the communities,” Kielburger said. “We’ve made a deep promise to help drive the funds to continue to develop schools, clean water, and health projects through the support of the visitors. In a material sense, these countries are facing poverty, but as some of the most beautiful environments, mixed with a population that is deeply embracing of travellers, together we have the ability to provide a very safe and welcoming experience for everyone.”

_MG_8804.JPG Brett Tollman, founder and CEO, The Travel Corporation and TreadRight Foundation; Craig Kielburger, co-founder, ME to WE and WE Charity.

As a new partner, Tollman and his family embarked on a WE trip of their own to Kenya, where they were able to see the bigger picture firsthand. “I went so that I could personally see and confirm that what we were seeing and promoting was real, and just as Craig has explained, it’s literally a luxury experience. There’s no hardship involved in terms of the experience you will have, but it’s a doubly enjoyable and fulfilling holiday. Unfortunately, after you’ve done one of these holidays, everything else seems very shallow, false and hollow in comparison. If they [agents] can believe it, try it, or learn more about it and promote it without abandonment, I can guarantee there’s nothing better.”

The money from every trip booked with ME to WE directly benefits organizations on the ground, and because of this, Tollman strongly advises agents to understand the negative impact that offering promotions, booking incentives, or discounts can have on the charity. “I would implore that people understand the story here, that there shouldn’t be anything else, because anything else, you’re taking out of the price is coming out of the charity’s pockets and is negatively impacting their optimization of the impact on the ground,” Tollman said.

“I encourage agents not to do it, because in the safari business, for example, one has to appreciate that it’s a fairly small camp, so the more we’re sending FOC’s or comp’s to the destination, the more costs are going up without income, and therefore it’s incumbent on us collectively, the media, our partners, and ourselves, to convince people to give it a try, but not on a complimentary or discounted basis. We’re going to keep promoting it and selling it as much as we do our own brands, because we’re just complete believers in it. Our commitment is to introduce our travel trade partners, both in the media and the agencies that we work with in all countries we sell to, to make them aware of the ME to WE trips and ask them to support them, and know more about them, so that clients searching for a meaningful trip will think about ME to WE as the first one.”