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Educating the masses on the power of travel

roomsXML's Mark Luckey continues to talk about the power to travel and its potential to change the world as well as the hurdles to ensure everyone is on board in part two of his three-part series. Click here for part one.

roomsXML’s Mark Luckey continues to talk about the power to travel and its potential to change the world as well as the hurdles to ensure everyone is on board in part two of his three-part series. Click here for part one.

“Is it my responsibility to educate? No. Is it your responsibility to educate? Probably not either. Is it the world’s responsibility to educate? Yes. We should all take care of our own little initiative.”

“I think we all collectively have a role and those who are taking responsibility are in the minority. But arguably these other people who are the more successful ones. You need to personally do something you believe in, be willing to put your hands in the fire.”

Christian de Boer


Are we selling travel? Dreams?  Do we believe our clients know everything?  We all know a little bit of knowledge is very, very dangerous. But some knowledge is powerful.  Does it gets in the way of business?

Meg says: “I love the idea of an education program around the impact of the travel industry – both locally and globally. But you read heaps on linkedin that is just not accurate and trying to catastrophise particular issues.

“Lots of TAs are just making a living and will book anything (in my opinion, this shouldn’t be regulated). The younger ones have no real understanding of the impact of travel other than they lost their virginity on a Contiki tour.”

Karsten sees education as an essential part of being an Agent: “It is our responsibility to use our experience to educate customers as we have always done in regard to quality or location. This is the next step. The business case is in the social and sharing space.

“Only a small percentage of customers will make an ethical choice, but this will grow with education. Ethical choices should be highlighted on itineraries, together with short descriptors as to the positive impact the product has. Once customers understand they will become advocates.

“Consumers are aware of where their clothing is made and won’t buy it if they know that the item is made in a factory with unethical practices or sourced using fabric that has been sourced from unethically grown materials.”

But should we go further? Karsten thinks so.

“The travel industry’s responsibility to their supply chain should be no different. Larger retail groups like Flight Centre and Helloworld should create a code of ethics that both their suppliers and agents must abide by.”

Do ethics matter? According to Christian, very much so as he recounted an Australian Deals site, based in Melbourne, who began doing ‘deals’ with hotels in Siem Reap. We’ve opted to remove the name of the Site. They have big pockets and will no doubt deny the impact.


“From a hotel point of ‘deals’ work as it’s a cash flow. There was a local company with contracted rates for three properties.  The ‘deals’ site negotiated rates 30 percent lower than contracted. That 30 percent of funds had to come from somewhere.

“The local company couldn’t compete and 18 jobs were lost. 18 jobs Khmer families were relying on. Lost because of a lack of knowledge from the sales teams of those hotels. If this is your ultimate answer to selling a property, you should be in a sales job.”

But the education also stems back to the ‘do gooders’ with great intentions as Simla explains:

“Many volunteerism opportunities are centred around what a traveller would like to do, rather than the needs of a community. Teaching a cute child English is more fun than scrubbing a floor and teaching a home mother how to use antibacterial cleaning products.

“Conversations are essential in breaking down assumptions. Poverty throughout the world is no different.

“This results in a long-term impact which allows everyone to stand on their own two feet, develop skills and be able to create a life requiring no support from outsiders, otherwise a vicious circle is created which is then harder to  break.”

It’s something that Simla has incorporated into the ‘Empowerment Tourism’ mantra of ‘Hands on Journeys’.

“The aim is to build a tribe of travellers who make an authentic difference and understand the identity of each destination whilst giving back. Integrating volunteering into tourism is extremely dynamic and that’s how it should be; an inspired trip that will make a difference in everyone’s life.”

That should be built into agent education according to Karsten “Its time to drop the 1980’s fare constructions and replace it with an education program that gives the future consultants a more rounded understanding of the impact of the industry.”

What do you think?

A bit more on the interviewees:


The hotelier – Christian De Boer – MD Jaya House Siem Reap


I met Christian in 2014 as roomsXML were looking to direct contract with Shinta Mani which he had grown into the most successful hotel in the history of Siem Reap. An ingredient of success was literally raising millions of dollars that went back into the local Khmer Community.

He is now the MD of a brand-new property poised to become the next number one, Jaya House with its mixture of style, grace, luxury and of course, sustainable business practice.

Initiatives he has created and implemented include “Refill not Landfill”, “Ten Thousand Trees”, “Made in Cambodia market” to name a few.


The educator – Meg Salter – MD Auridian

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I was introduced to Meg through Penny Spencer when recruiting speakers for Travel Vision 2020, a series of workshops running collaboration with roomsXML and Amadeus.

Since starting with Flight Centre in the 90s in the days of the telex, Meg has move through a number of roles to eventually start her own successful consulting organisation, Auridian consulting.

Meg was undoubtably the most popular speaker at Travel Vision 2020. Not only was her content incredible but it was the raw honesty with which it was delivered. Meg is refreshingly honest and insanely to the point in the delivery of key messages. An important one being that agents need to change and grow to survive in a competitive machine dominated future.


The Travel Agent – Karsten Horne – MD Reho Travel

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Karsten Horne from Reho is known for great actions and humorous Twitter feeds. Part of the Reho business model is a percent commitment return to causes, a key plank being that 20% of annual profits go towards charities.

He is a true believer in the need of ethics and sustainable standards in the travel industry and this is reflected in the many causes Reho has established.

Rehope Micro-credit Agency has been fully accredited by the Government of Malawi. Reho are the only travel management company in the world to earn B-Corp status. I could write a whole article on Karsten. Actually I have here.


The Empowerment Tourism Pioneer – Simla Sooboodoo – MD Hands on Journeys

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Coming from Mauritius and suffering hardships as a child, Simla had a 10% survival chance from a brain haemorrhage, led to a second chance and the knowledge that others deserved a second chance too.

She not only built a business but defined a new travel movement of “Empowerment Tourism” and wrapped it up in her astounding new business, Hands on Journeys.

Simla undoubtably has some of the best hands on experience and knowledge on ethics and #traveltochangetheworld.