Mandeep Kaur, is the founder and Program Director of TribesforGOOD. She’s eagerly awaiting the arrival of the first eight participants, all women, on their new “social impact journey” this November. I reached out to Mandeep to dig into the mindset of someone inspired enough to create a transformational program she describes as “experiential learning travel”. Here’s a few insights from our conversation to help those of you aspiring to be like Mandeep.
TribesforGOOD is a mission led organisation developing the potential of individuals as changemakers, through culturally immersive, educational and impactful experiences in India. The new program complements their volunteering programs and is designed for those who are just starting out on their exploration of social impact as a career. It is meant to immerse them in India so they can learn how to distinguish from the 3.3 million social enterprises which ones are right for them.
Not a typical “Travel Company”
One of the lessons she learned is even thought she’s “not a travel company” her participants often expect travel agent-type support. So she has partnered with a company that can offer excursions other typical travel offerings. This is something we see quite often when you’re selling such a unique program and not just the flights and hotels that typical travel companies make their money from. In fact, Mandeep feels coordinating the travel component is not part of their core competency since she doesn’t want to be seen as competing with typical travel companies.
We see this a lot with YouLi trips, which is why assigning tasks to your travelers to book their own flights and/or accommodation is a great way to avoid having to do the booking yourself while still ensuring it gets done for everyone, you can invite your partner Travel Agent so you manage both the program and the bookings in one place.
It only took her six months to sign up the eight participants that will fly to India and experience the 2018 Social Impact Journey. From my experience, that is pretty fast and really demonstrates Mandeep’s ability to hustle. Being able to launch your first program that quickly is easier if you already have other programs in place. That way your brand is not completely unknown when launching multi-day destination events.
Minimum or Maximum?
Unlike typical travel companies, Mandeep did not have a minimum number of participants in mind, she had a maximum of 15. In order to have more control over the quality of experience at this stage, having fewer people is actually better. She sees the inaugural trip as an opportunity to have a real impact on the participants. Plus learn what is critical to delivering value going forward. She expects to barely cover costs the first time around because it is an investment in the future. She will create advocates from this cohort that will spread the word for the next time around.
Since she didn’t want more than 15 people, and they needed to be the right people, she implemented an application process. This is something we see often with our group leaders. Because the experience is so immersive, Mandeep needs to know that the people who are coming are the right fit. Since she has an application process it ensures the participants have their expectations set properly.
Experiential learning travel
The type of experiential learning travel TribesforGOOD offers, can be quick challenging for people. So Mandeep got on the phone with all the applicants a few times. Now she knows everyone who will be attending and can make sure they get the experience they expect.
Another important reason to pre-screen participants is to ensure the right matches for both the businesses and the participants during the Hackathon. The Hackathon is a spin on the Volunteering programs they already run which are structured to deliver value for both parties.
Are Influencers Worth It?
Acquiring customers that fit Mandeep’s target audience seems like it would be a challenge. Especially without a budget for ad-words. But because she knows exactly who she is looking for, she was able to be smart about her marketing. She explored influencer marketing using travel influencers, but found they were too expensive without any guarantee of results.
Instead she mapped her target market onto the influencers who were in her space (social entrepreneurship). Along the way she found Pam Grout, author of 16 books and a truly inspirational human. Seriously, read at least some of her blogs if not her books. Pam agreed to join Mandeep on this journey and has been really easy-going about her requirements, not something you get with every influencer. In exchange, Pam write articles to help Mandeep reach more of the people who are looking for the type of career-changing, if not life-changing experiences TribesforGOOD intends to deliver.
There is no shortcut to finding the right kind of influencer. Like most successful entrepreneurs, Mandeep worked hard and got lucky.
The hardest thing Mandeep has had to face was meeting her own high expectations for the quality of the program. She knows that she’s promising a lot and she is determined to deliver. Thankfully, her background delivering workshops and hackathons in the Social Impact space has prepared her well.
Despite this being her first multi-day destination event, I have faith Mandeep is going to deliver a life-changing experience.
Change Someone’s Life
Be sure to share this with people you know who are exploring careers in social impact or who want to become social entrepreneurs. November’s Social Impact Journey is just the beginning for TribesforGOOD.