With a busy calendar of adventures on the horizon for the year, the unexpected turn of events that came in March 2020 left Inspired Adventures caught between a rock and a hard place. The heart of Inspired Adventures is using travel as a force for good, and with borders closing around the globe, uncertainty started to settle in, with many adventures’ plausibility unknown.
The closed borders saw over 50 adventures affected, as the most popular destinations including the Great Wall of China, Mt Kilimanjaro, the Inca Trail and Nepal were out of reach. From March 2020, Inspired Adventures saw an almost 200% decrease in the number of people enquiring about their adventures, a trend which lasted for more than four months. As times were changing, Inspired Adventures understood that they would have to as well. It was as simple as that.
With international travel no longer an option, the team had to get creative to be able to continue to make an impact for Inspired Adventures’ many charity partners that were quickly losing vital funds as a result of the pandemic. With some of the most diverse and enticing landscapes in the world in our own backyard, this time proved the perfect opportunity to take a step back and give travellers a way to ‘travel for good’ on their own doorstep.
More than a year on, everyone is well-acquainted with what life under COVID-19 looks like, but in early 2020, the Inspired Adventures team had to try and premeditate what domestic travel was going to look like in Australia and New Zealand. Determined to keep as many people on their adventures as possible in a safe manner, and support them with their fundraising, Inspired Adventures faced unprecedented challenges, but proved with determination, perseverance and a good sense of humour, anything was possible.
Thanks to the dedication of the team, who, like many people employed in the travel industry, were working on reduced hours, Inspired Adventures was able to create more than 50 new Australian-based itineraries. From trekking the Larapinta Trail, to summiting peaks in Victoria, New South Wales and ACT, hiking the Coast 2 Coast Trail in Western Australia, kayaking the Whitsundays and exploring the wilds of Tassie, there was no shortage of inspiring adventures to dream up. Just over the ditch, they were also able to showcase the best of New Zealand’s adventure playground for their Kiwi charity partners, too.
Having enticing new local itineraries was one thing, but Inspired Adventures also needed to ensure participants could travel with confidence amidst the uncertainty of this new normal, where localised outbreaks could happen at any time. The team worked with health experts and government bodies to create an industry-leading COVID-19 safety plan to give charities and their participants the confidence the teams would be well-looked after while away. In response to the unique challenges, they also enabled charities to have state-based adventures, which gave them confidence their adventures could go ahead as borders opened and closed. Inspired Adventures also made the decision to reduce their registration fee, acknowledging the hardship that people were experiencing throughout the year.
Collectively, these decisions allowed Inspired Adventures to not only survive, but thrive in a COVID-19 world, continuing to support its charity partners to raise vital funds for their important work. Most adventures were successfully postponed to 2021, and from July onwards, hundreds of people began enquiring about Inspired Adventures every week, inspired to explore their own backyard while making a difference for causes they are passionate about.
By the end of last year, Inspired Adventures was seeing an average increase in enquiries of 55% in comparison to the year prior. They saw more people enquire about their adventures in January 2021 than ever before in their 17-year history. There are more than 70 adventures planned for 2021 and they are close to reaching a milestone of $40 million raised for their partner organisations this year. Now, more than ever before, people are wanting to explore local, give back, and seek life-affirming experiences with like-minded people.
If 2020 has taught the team at Inspired Adventures anything, it’s that you can never know what’s around the corner. But it also taught them about the courage and resilience of the human spirit, and the innate desire of people to do good. We are so lucky in Australia to have had some of the freedoms in the last 12 months that those around the world could only dream of. Inspired Adventures is grateful to be able to continue its impact in partnership with the best charities in the country — one adventure at a time.
Justine Curtis, the founder and CEO of Inspired Adventures, will be appearing at Digi.Raise + EventRaise 2021 from 16-18 June. Check out the program here.
Would you like to learn more about how Inspired Adventures could arrange a domestic adventure for your organisation? Get in touch today.