Winner of the Global Youth Travel Award for Outstanding Contribution to the SDGs
Innovation: Footprints Network
Guest: Jon Whitby, GM Marketing and Brands, World Nomads
World Nomads is a fast-growing online travel company that provides inspiration, advice, safety tips and specialized travel insurance for independent and adventure travellers exploring almost anywhere in the world. World Nomads’ online global travel insurance covers travellers from more than 100 countries and allows them to buy and claim online, 24/7, even while already traveling.
The Footprints Network (Footprints) is a micro-giving program that allows travellers to help change lives in the places they visit. World Nomads partners with global non-profits and charities to identify and support sustainable projects. Travellers make a micro-donation to the project of their choice when they buy World Nomads travel insurance.
What is the Footprints origin story?
We started the Footprints Network in the wake of the 2004 Southeast Asian tsunami. We were so proud of this contribution and the positive impact it had that we wanted to continue to enable our customers to contribute to meaningful causes within the global community. Seventeen years later, World Nomads’ Footprints Network has enabled over 1.2 million travellers to donate more than $3.3 million towards 250 projects around the world.
How has the Footprints Network evolved?
Since Footprints’ first project in 2004, the programme has continued on the path of giving back to local communities, supporting sustainable causes, and enabling our travellers to be agents of social change.
As World Nomads grew, so did Footprints donations. We decided to focus our efforts on connecting travellers and communities and leave the operations to established charities, major non-profits and smaller grassroots organisations, that have the expertise and capacity to run community development projects. We’ve proudly partnered with Plan International, Save the Children, The Wildlife Conservation Network, SurfAid, and the Sea Turtle Conservancy, just to name a few.
Internally, our Footprints team conducts a vigorous vetting and reporting process for all projects; each one must align to one or more of the UN SGDs and pass another set of criteria that we’ve established internally. For example, the projects need to be run by registered non-profits and charities, work with and support local communities, have objectives and specific goals as well as have a set budget with a breakdown of costs. We also look to have at least 25% of projects aligned to sustainable tourism, a percentage that grows each year.
Meanwhile, our marketing team works hard to promote Footprints to talk about the impact and difference the projects are making—and to inspire people to want to be part of it. We’ve created an engaging video series shown on in-flight entertainment systems and have actively shared Footprints news through our website, email network and social media channels.
Over the years, we’ve accomplished a lot—250 projects have been fully funded in areas such as education, clean water and sanitation, gender equality, poverty eradication, and more. That seems like a big number, but the whole idea of Footprints is that a small donation can go a long way in creating a positive and lasting impact.
What are some of the unique challenges for the Footprints Network?
The pandemic presented a unique challenge—it reduced the number of donations collected during the past year or so, as fewer people chose to travel and purchase insurance policies. However, we are committed to improving the reach and volume of projects funded through Footprints. In the future, we hope to enable other e-commerce businesses to integrate the Footprints technology into their own purchase paths and share our technology and successes with other like-minded organisations.
What value does an international association like WYSE Travel Confederation have to a company like World Nomads?
Being part of an international association like WYSE demonstrates our commitment to the most exciting and resilient market to be in, to make new connections, and form long-lasting partnerships with a diverse array of travel brands, innovators, and start-ups. Not only this but having access to valuable resources and experts on industry trends helps inform our own strategies across the business.