Travel agencies face challenges and sometimes the challenges create opportunities. Not just for themselves, but others. Some agencies go a step further and find innovative solutions and add a new dimension to “success”.

Then there are agents like Karsten Horne from Reho who seemingly spend as much time running their triple bottom line initiatives as they do their own successful travel companies.

At a time when travel agencies continue to fail, you have people like Karsten who are just as determined to make a difference as they are to pay themselves.

Read on to find how and why triple bottom line business is working for Reho. You can read about the initiative here and below is my interview with Karsten.

 

What lead you to having involvement with Malawi?

“We chartered a truck to drive for 6 weeks from Kenya to South Africa. On New Year’s Day 2007, we were refuelling in a small town called Mzuzu in Malawi and I met Alick Banda, a young guy selling hand drawn post cards from the side of the road. We got chatting, exchanged email addresses and several days later I made the decision to support Alick through university in exchange for him hand drawing Reho Christmas cards. A few years later and after he graduated from university we set up Rehope Microfinance. “

 

What’s the nature of your contribution?

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For the first 7 years we provided financial, logistics and mentoring. We are not experts in microfinance and opened a community bank in partnership with Sydney based Empower Projects, making our involvement predominantly financial.

At least 10% of our profits go to supporting the project.

 

How does this affect Reho?

Our culture of making a difference attracts talent, engages and inspires the team. Even those that are not obvious advocates get involved in conversations outside of work that lead to their friends wanting to hear more.

It impacts every decision …. the corporate business we pursue, the coffee we drink, the electricity we use, the suppliers we partner with.

 

Does it open doors in conversations with customers?

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Karsten Horne Owner of Reho Travel

Absolutely. It generates positive press, clients love a purpose and it immediately builds credibility and trust. It is becoming a powerful marketing tool as the demand for purpose driven companies grows. Being part of a global movement certainly opens the right doors as you end up moving in like-minded circles.

 

Should the travel industry should do more tourism with respect to the rights of peoples livelihood involved in tourism?

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Yes, I’m a big advocate for this. We are actually working with some RMIT students who are conducting a study for us. Reho Travel is committed to influencing the travel industry to consider the entire supply chain. We would like to see an industry where customers are choosing an airline for its low fuel consumption, a hotel in the developing world for its labour practices, and a tour company that involves the local community, booking them all with a travel agency that has the awareness and experience to guide them toward suppliers that have a positive impact on the world.”

Have you been involved in any similar initiatives? Share your story with us below…