How to Gather a Group to Climb Kilimanjaro

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As an example on how to use YouLi to gather a group for Adventure Travel, we are managing a trip to Tanzania this year.

All good adventures start with an inspiration, in this case my friend Jeff wanted to conquer another mountain. After all, we had done so well on Mt. Fuji, why not tackle something more challenging?

Inspiration

With the seed planted, I began exploring the details and rounding up interested travelers. I discovered that the summit of Kilimanjaro at 5,895 m/19,341 feet which is a similar height as Everest base camp. That seemed daunting, but the more I read, the more I convinced myself this was something doable, with the right group and the right preparation.

Research

It is amazing what happens when you put it out into your network that you want to take on a challenge, suddenly people come into your life with relevant experience who are eager to share. My favorite example of this was when a guy on the streets of Melbourne struck up a conversation about my backpack with all the travel patches and after we chatted for a bit about travel it turned out he had recently climbed Kilimanjaro for his birthday. The coincidences continued and we found our guide for the climb through a a connection I made at my co-working space. They connected me to an organisation that helps poor Tanzanian students get access to education and one of their staff also runs a tour company, Afrikabisa, which means “Definitely Africa” in Swahili.

I love the idea of working with locals to make sure the money stays local and I know that their leader, Hendry, has a giving heart.

Gathering (Herding Cats)

Something this big requires a lot of time to prepare for, so we set our sights on a late 2017 climbing date. Jeff and I started talking about our intentions around December 2016 and started to gather interest from our networks of friends and colleagues. Much like climbing a mountain, it is a slow process.

One thing you can always expect are people who WANT to go, but just can’t make it a priority. Getting people to make small commitments early will help you know they are serious. We invited people via YouLi where they could see who else was going and what the general plan was to help them decide. We made sure to share regular information and see who engaged. YouLi makes it clear how to respond and what you have to do before you go.

As word spread, I could easily add people before I knew all their details and click on the wand to grab their Magic Link, which I can send through any channel and gives them password-less access to their personalised invitation.

Whenever a confirmation email came in with a YES from the latest invitee I would get super excited that there are this many (wonderfully) crazy people who want to tackle this challenge with me. As of this posting, we’ve got 11 confirmed YES, 6 that dropped out and 2 still considering.

 

Not everyone is climbing Kilimanjaro and YouLi tracks which people are coming for the climb, which for the Safari and which for Zanzibar. I can export the lists to send on to Hendry to make sure he has the right names and numbers to make our plans a reality on the ground.

What’s Next?

We set the deadlines and then managed the stragglers with reminders and we are now at the stage of getting final flight bookings into YouLi so everyone can view their itinerary in one place and the planner (me) has all the details necessary to make the trip go smoothly.

Now for the hard work of training for a long hike at altitude in a country that has no mountains over 2100 m. Literally the altitude we will START walking from on Kilimanjaro. But we are making the best of what we’ve got and posting our best hiking shots from country Victoria on Instagram.

Next big admin task: collecting deposits from everyone. But I’m not worried, YouLi can handle it.

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Jennifer Fein
Jennifer Fein
Jen Fein is the product visionary behind YouLi and epic group travel planner. After years of building digital products as an engineer and product manager for others, she’s now determined to make software that empowers passionate people to create unique group travel businesses. She is also the co-author of Ready to Start? Becoming an Entrepreneur in Australia.