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Collaboration takes centre stage at Karryon’s first Open Mindset event in Melbourne

In what was a groundbreaking event, more than 110 members of Melbourne’s travel community gathered in the Victorian capital on Wednesday, June 26, for Karryon’s highly anticipated Open Mindset event.

In what was a groundbreaking event, more than 110 members of Melbourne’s travel community gathered in the Victorian capital on Wednesday, June 26, for Karryon’s highly anticipated Open Mindset event.

The innovative lunchtime event, which was held on the land of the Wurundjeri people in the Kulin Nation at Metropolis in Southbank, aimed to challenge traditional thinking and inspire new perspectives to forge a collaborative path for all in the travel industry’s sustainability transformation.

From travel advisors and product and destination specialists to C-level leaders across all sectors of the travel industry and guests from purpose-driven businesses like ‘Who Gives A Crap’ and ‘GO KINDA’, the common thread among attendees was a desire to contribute to change.

Open Mindset

The central question of the day was, “What will your role be in the travel industry’s sustainability transformation, and how can you make a difference?”

During the three-hour event, an engaged audience listened to a variety of speakers who provided valuable, practical tips and strategies. Attendees also had the opportunity to share their experiences with their peers.

Open Mindset
Ben Moody

The event was emceed by Karryon General Manager Dani Tuffield and opened with a stirring Acknowledgement of Country and story by Yidaki (Didgeridoo) artist and proud Gamilaroi man Ben Moody.

In his opening speech, Karryon Founder and Head of Storytelling Matt Leedham encapsulated the day’s essence and the goal of shifting mindsets, stating, “Today marks a significant moment as we embark on an exciting new journey together.”

Open Mindset

Brett Mitchell, Managing Director for Intrepid Travel AU/NZ, spoke next, sharing his optimism about the future of industry collaboration. He remarked, “Today is about discussion. No matter where you are in your journey or within your company, you can make a difference, advocate, and influence. Hopefully, today marks the beginning of a shared effort, as we can’t do this alone. We all need to work together.”

Advocating Intrepid’s mantra “Progress, not perfection,” Mitchell emphasised three key markers: measurement, transparency, and collaboration. He noted, “Every time we’ve intensified our sustainability and broader pursuit initiatives, it’s benefited our business. We’ve become a better business as a result.”

Open Mindset

Riley Aickin, Partnerships & UPTEX Manager for B-Corp business UPPAREL, gave a fascinating keynote on the plight of garment wastage and how UPPAREL recycles garments, textiles, and uniforms for various clever uses.

Did you know? On average, each Australian buys 27 kilograms of new textiles, including clothes, annually and disposes of 23 kilograms.

In response to this wasteful statistic, Aickin proudly shared that in just four years since its inception, UPPAREL has diverted nearly 14 million items from landfills.

Open Mindset
Team UPPARELL and some cool recycled prizes

“Everything we do is about being for the next generation. Let’s leave the world in a better place so that they can enjoy it,” said Aickin.

Karryon collaborated with UPPAREL to produce recycled UpTex signage, table features, and name badges for the event, which was free of single-use plastics and collateral. Attendees also contributed approximately 20 kg of used fashion garments, which, along with the signage and fabric name badges, will be recycled for other purposes.

An insightful panel session closed out the afternoon. It featured Michelle Degenhardt, Global Sustainability Officer at Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG), Neil Rodgers, Managing Director at Adventure World, and Matt Leedham, Founder and Head of Storytelling at Karryon.

Open Mindset

The panel, moderated by Yvette Thompson, General Manager of Sales and Marketing AU/NZ at Intrepid, covered a wide range of topics, including climate, carbon emissions, sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), overtourism, leadership, and single-use plastics.

The key takeaways were how to ignite your power and take action to inspire others.

Neil Rodgers emphasised the importance of beginning with small steps: “I never set out to focus on sustainability, but it’s become a passion. At The Travel Corporation, we believe in teaching, not preaching. Everyone wants to do the right thing but doesn’t always know how.”

Open Mindset
Team Travel Corporation Touring Brands

“We advocate for small, tangible steps towards sustainability. For instance, at our conferences, we might introduce a vegan meal option or other minor changes that collectively make a significant impact. It’s about finding your passion and incorporating it into your business. There’s a commercial benefit to sustainability, and it can start in small areas and grow,” said Rodgers.

Michelle Degenhardt recounted the challenge of starting from scratch in a newly created role two years ago, saying, “I often thought, ‘What have I done?’ I had moments of doubt, but I began by reaching out to my contacts in the industry for help and advice.”

With twenty years already at FCTG, Ms. Degenhardt found her way through collaboration.

Open Mindset
Team Hurtigruten

“It was about being vulnerable and having open conversations. Through these discussions, I learned a lot, even from competitors. We also looked outside the travel industry to learn from those with more experience. Building relationships and collaborating have been crucial,” she shared.

Asked whether implementing sustainable business practices should be down to senior leaders only, Matt Leedham responded, “I think you need leaders to commit to making the big decisions, but equally, you have to get buy-in from everybody and give others a seat at the table, too. So, look especially at younger people within the business and listen to anyone passionate about making a difference.”

Open Mindset

Karryon for good

Andrew Macfarlane, Intrepid Travel’s Purpose Consultant ANZ, provided an update on the impressive work of The Intrepid Foundation and invited the entire industry to get involved. Since its inception in 2002, The Intrepid Foundation has collectively raised over $16 million and supported more than 160 communities worldwide.

Thanks to a $10 donation from every ticket and Karryon bolstering the amount, the event also raised $5,000 for the not-for-profit “Country Needs People,” which supports Indigenous Rangers leading community-based conservation efforts in Australia.

A variety of prizes were given away, including UPPAREL goodies, spa vouchers, and a three-night experience at Uluru with Intrepid Travel.

Open Mindset

The event was sponsored by Intrepid Travel, Tourism New Zealand, Hurtigruten, and TTC Tour Brands.

Karryon Events organised and managed the event. For more information, contact Karryon’s Event Manager simran@karryon.com.au