Kimi Anderson – founder of Travel Giver

Kimi Anderson is a wife, mother, entrepreneur and founder of TravelGiver, a website for socially conscious travellers. A keen traveller with a passion for philanthropy, Anderson was first bitten by the travel bug when she took off backpacking for three years following university.

On her return to Australia following her travels, Anderson began working in the hospitality and tourism industry for global brands, including Best Western Australasia, before deciding to set up her own business to combine her love of travel and giving – TravelGiver.

Anderson explains: “When I set up TravelGiver a year ago, my aim was to use my business experience and skills to help community projects around the world to raise awareness and generate much needed funds. I also wanted to provide a forum for people to research projects and share their experiences all in one spot”.

“I am incredibly proud of taking the leap from the corporate world, and with the rapidly growing number of projects that are benefiting from donations and the positive feedback from customers, I feel like TravelGiver is really doing something worthwhile to make a difference.”

I am always open to new ideas, learning from others, listening to TED talks, and most importantly listening to my customers – the next idea or source of inspiration can come from anywhere. I definitely work much better under pressure, with a deadline and some tough goals.

travelgiver.com @TravelGiver facebook instagram

 

Tell us a little bit about your idea and what made you decide to take the plunge and make it happen?

I was actually trying to research NGO projects in Cambodia when I realised how difficult it was to find this information. I wanted to do more to help but finding out how, where to start and what to do was really hard. Who do I contact? Is this information trustworthy?

When I started TravelGiver, I wanted to make giving simple. I had 4 very clear objectives:

  •    Raise awareness of the amazing projects that are out there – give them a voice and help them raise funds.
  •    Provide a forum for people to research projects and destinations, share their experiences and contribute to human change.
  •    Use technology to really enrich people’s lives.
  •    Develop a business model that is sustainable, utilises my experience, knowledge and networks, and changes the lives of many.

TravelGiver is a one-stop-travel-shop for socially conscious travellers, allowing them to donate up to eight per cent of their booking to community projects worldwide at no extra cost. Users simply log on, choose a booking agent and select from one of hundreds of ethical grass roots initiatives worldwide that assist communities in need. The donation is then made automatically.

Since its launch in August 2013, TravelGiver has helped hundreds of travellers to book anything from local flights to international holidays and has expanded from 40 projects in four countries to over 300 in 50 countries, giving travellers a greater choice of where their money goes. The site has also become a platform for travellers to share experiences and find projects to visit when overseas.

This month, 15 new booking partners, including major travel brands Etihad, Contiki, Booking.com, Intrepid Travel and Hertz will be joining existing partners including Expedia, Lonely Planet, Zuji, Best Western and Accor, to give users access not just to flights and accommodation, but also cruises, packages, car rental, travel insurance and guides all over the world.

Please explain your business model

The business model is really simple, it is based on the affiliate marketing model.

Each time a traveller starts their journey on TravelGiver.com and then makes a booking with one of it’s booking agents, TravelGiver receives a referral fee. 50% of this is donated one of the 300 community projects. The travellers choose who they book with and who they give to. The donation is made automatically on behalf of the traveller.

TravelGiver retains 50% of the referral fee. This amount has been reinvested in the website, enhancing and promoting it. The amount donated is very transparent as each of the 26 booking agents list the percentage donated. A user can also log in and check their profile at any time, to see a summary of their past donations.

What are you working on right now and what are you most excited about in the next three months? 

My focus for the next few months will be speaking to companies who book their own travel online.

The recent upgrade of the TravelGiver site means TravelGiver can now cater for business travellers. A new corporate program has been added, helping businesses that book their own travel online to give easily while they travel. Companies will now have the option to select their preferred community project to make giving quick and easy every time.

How do you make ideas happen?

By learning, listening, thoughtful planning and then setting myself a deadline and some goals.

I am always open to new ideas, learning from others, listening to TED talks, and most importantly listening to my customers – the next idea or source of inspiration can come from anywhere. I definitely work much better under pressure, with a deadline and some tough goals.

What does your typical day look like? 

When I wake up, I quickly check emails as this helps me plan my day ahead. Anything that can be answered quickly gets done. I then turn into a nagging mother and get my daughter out of bed, dressed, make breakfast and take her to school.

To get started, I like to scan the online news websites, check the social media sites for TravelGiver and then check my reports (Google, bookings and MailChimp). I then go back and look at emails again and try and get some items on my to do list done. Before I know it, it is school pick up time and I revert back into the nagging mother until late each evening, where I check emails again and finish anything left outstanding during the day.

When I have meetings, I always try and set them in locations where I can walk or I make sure I take our dog for a good walk each day. While I am out walking, I listen to TEDtalks, review the social media accounts and really think about what needs to be done and why. I find that a break from the computer screen is the best way to get new ideas, feel energised and enjoy the work-life choices that I have made.

Kimi24-square

What challenges have you faced when starting or growing a business/organisation in Australia?

The biggest challenge for TravelGiver is creating awareness and staying top of mind as a travel purchase is not an everyday transaction. Getting people to know about TravelGiver is one thing but it is really important that I maintain the communication and engagement so that they remember TravelGiver a few months later when they are booking a trip. Creating an emotional connection with the brand and the projects are key to closing the gap between intention and actual action.

What is one idea you are willing to give away for free?

Go to www.hubspot.com and check out their library and sign up to their eNewsletter. They share a lot of free guides and tips that are really practical and useful.

What people/companies/organisations do you think are doing really cool stuff in your industry, in Australia at the moment? 

Sarah Martin, Founder of social enterprise First Hand Solutions; she runs the Blak Markets at Bare Island, La Perouse on the first Sunday of every month. The event is part of a social enterprise injecting funds back into local Aboriginal communities, and providing Sydneysiders with the opportunity to learn skills and crafts direct from traditional Aboriginal teachers. I went on the weekend and the experience was absolutely amazing.

Co founded by an Australian, Start Some Good is also an incredible crowdfunding platform helping social entrepreneurs, changemakers and non profits raise the funds to implement social ventures that help make a real change.

What about internationally?

It is great to see that some big businesses are starting to share their profits (i.e. Amazon Smiles) but it is the smaller NGOs (non government organisations) set up by everyday people with good intentions that really impress me. Setting up TravelGiver, I’ve had the privilege to learn about their work and even visit some of the ones in Cambodia. The things they achieve with such limited resources is amazing.

What role do you think business can play in affecting social change?

Not only do businesses have a moral obligation to positively impact social change, there is also a strong business case. A research study by Nielsen in 2012 on the Global Socially Conscious Consumer found:

  • 66% of consumers would prefer to buy products from companies that give back to society
  • 62% would prefer to work for such companies and 59% would prefer to invest in them.

Fortunately, with the technology platforms available today, it has never been easier for businesses to make a contribution. Businesses of all sizes can make a difference and they should enable their employees and customer networks to be part of this social change if they wish to.

Speaking of affecting social change, we’ve teamed up with Shout for Good to encourage readers to ‘shout a coffee’ to charity by clicking the button below. Is there a particular charity you’d like to support?

There are lots of great charities. I would like to choose Stop the TraffiK.

Name 3 websites you would recommend to our readers.

Name 3 Australians we should follow on Twitter.

  • @TourismAus – Tourism Australia lead the way when it comes to social media and I love what they share.
  • @LeadersinHeels – a great mix of business and life tweets
  • @Mamamia – amusing and topical

Are there opportunities for people to get involved with your idea (e.g. are you looking for funding, interns, marketing help)?

I will never say no to help. If you have feedback, are interested in an intern position or would like to know more about the Corporate Program, please email: [email protected]

We’re aiming to build a community of Australian idea makers helping each other. If you could have one question answered about startups, marketing, social media, accounting, monetization, product development etc. What would it be?

What are the pros and cons on the various accounting software packages?

What’s your favourite bar/café/restaurant?

Living in Darlinghurst, I am spoilt for choice. The Roosevelt (Potts Point) for drinks, LL Wine and Dine (Potts Point) for a meal and Messina (Darlinghurst) for dessert.

Learn from over 100 Australians making ideas happen.

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