It was ten years ago when four women came together and formalised an idea that they had been intentionally nurturing for months and slowly shaping for years before that. The story of how GOOD Travel began is one of interconnectedness, synergy and purpose.
A Founding Story
GOOD Travel was founded by four women from four continents, who were brought together through travel experiences in different corners of the globe, over the span of half a decade. From Peru to Tanzania to New Zealand, our co-founders - Eliza Raymond, Heidy Aspilcueta, Caitie Goddard and Shelley Bragg - created these transcontinental connections that remained strong over the years and that were based upon shared values and thinking about equity, equality and sustainability with a global perspective.
Over the years, through ongoing experiences, reflections and discussions, it became clear that change was needed in the tourism industry and that this group of women had the experience, skill set and passion to support that change. All believed in the power of travel to have a positive impact in the world. All had a passion for enabling travellers to make a positive impact through their travel experiences and on their return home.
One pivotal evening in Peru, as Caite and Eliza enjoyed dinner and pisco sours at a social enterprise called Yanapay with a group of travellers, the idea for GOOD Travel was born. How could we get more travellers to support - and have a great time - at businesses like Yanapay and other social enterprises that focus on protecting the environment and supporting the local community. A few skype calls later the team was formed and by 2013 GOOD Travel was registered in New Zealand, with four co-founders and an experienced team of advisors.
A Team and an Inner Guild
Over the years our team has continued to grow and we’ve had so many passionate travellers and change-makers build GOOD Travel with us. Our team has always been truly global and we have worked virtually long before the pandemic made it commonplace. Many of our team members have never met in person but the strong connection remains - connection to the purpose, to each other and to the work we have done and are building.
We’re currently a core team of seven. Alongside our co-founders introduced above, with their collective experience in tourism, international development, marketing, capacity development and global citizenship education, the team has a wide range of expertise and varied life experience.
Debbie Clarke, who founded inbound tour company New Zealand Awaits for LGBTQ+ travellers to New Zealand, is our Director of Regenerative Development for the Centre of GOOD Travel.
Josie Major, our New Zealand Programmes Manager, over the past four years has contributed to GOOD Travel as a researcher, regenerative practitioner and operations manager. Debbie and Josie became focused on regenerative practice and leadership as the pandemic rattled the world. Through their growing experience and expertise in a regenerative approach to travel, they have been facilitating and leading GOOD Travel through our current evolution.
Karin Nunan, with her background in the government, the airline industry and in environmental sustainability consulting, is our Strategy and Sustainability Advisor and has been key in developing our Mother and Daughter trips. She is also the latest investor in GOOD Travel and is bringing the Center of GOOD Travel to life!
Erin Carnes, who is our Creative Specialist, is an experienced photographer, fine artist, marketer and trip leader, having led numerous National Geographic Photographic Expeditions and GOOD Travel trips.
We’re also happy to be welcoming back Ange Nielsen as Operations Manager! With a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and a Master’s degree in International Development, Ange has a love of learning about people, ways of life and cultures around the world.
Our entire team - spread across four countries - connected and met through travel and their shared belief in the potential of travel to create positive impact.
When we think about regenerative practice, and how we can apply living systems thinking to how our team can work together, we have drawn upon the guild principle from permaculture. We’ve used the metaphor of the ‘tomato guild’ to help us understand that in nature all elements of a natural ecosystem serve one or more functions, supporting the other elements, interconnected like a web, strengthening and adding to the wellbeing of the whole guild.
When we thought about ourselves as a tomato guild, some of us wanted to be the soil, supporting all the other elements in growing and in their work. We have our sunflowers, rising to the sun and attracting new support, partnerships and possibilities. We have our tomato, our anchor. We have the marigold, bringing balance and sustainability to the team and the work. We each naturally and organically found a role in the guild that reflected our essence, and we now approach our work with this framework in mind. The diversity of our team reflects the diversity of a thriving and resilient ecosystem - allowing us to grow and evolve in ways we couldn't alone, building our resilience to challenges, allowing us to be self-organising just as nature is, and as a whole system becoming more than just the sum of our parts.
Our Collective Journey Forward
The global pandemic in 2020 provided a pause and opportunity to reflect upon these past 10 years and with the addition of Regenerative Practitioners Josie Major and Debbie Clarke to the team, a new phase for GOOD Travel began. The team spent an intensive 6 months applying regenerative design principles to our own business model, exploring who we are, what our unique capabilities are as individuals and as a team, and where there is the potential for us to transform the systems we are a part of.
To live and work in a way that is regenerative also means we understand our essence, what makes us unique. Who are we, and what unique capabilities do we have to contribute? We understand our essence as being a women owned and operated tourism business that, through our varied experiences, skills, and expertise, as well as a curiosity to develop and evolve, can assist the tourism industry to boldly image and enact a new purpose for tourism and travel.
We form a team of individuals that have all been moved, shaped and developed through travel experiences and that in our professional lives grapple with the complexities of sustainable transitions, sustainable business models, regenerative practice, global citizenship, behaviour change, capacity development, ethical marketing and branding and more. We try to live and work in a way that aligns with our values and we support and collaborate with each other in the same way.
Our team is made up of volunteers, freelancers and part-time employees. It has always been this way at GOOD Travel and allows for a participation based on capacity, needs, resources and expertise. We are self-organising and self-integrating, trusting that collectively we can sense and respond to what our company needs at any given time as we evolve our whole system.
The value of our company and team - and what we bring to each other - has always gone far beyond financial gain and we think this approach aligns well when we think of the idea of thriving and wellbeing. We reflect in our team - and in our way of working - what we hope to see in the tourism sector.
Alongside our core team, we also have outstanding partners (our outer guild!) that have supported us, created experiences with us, co-led tours with us, and created change with us. You'll be hearing about them in an upcoming post!
We also have all our GOOD Travellers, who have journeyed with us in so many destinations.
We are abundantly grateful for our guild and community! Thank you for journeying with us.