GoVoluntouring | BCBusiness
Volunteer tourists help construct a building made of garbage-filled soda bottles.
Congratulations to GoVoluntouring, 2013's #17 Most Innovative Company in B.C.
Dubious middlemen. Shady lodgings. A disputable impact on the community you hope to help. Volunteering abroad isn’t very promising at first glance. But with 2.5 million volunteers embarking annually and spending an average $3,000 per trip, GoVoluntouring Ltd. saw an opportunity to set standards, vet organizations and connect tourists to projects suited to their needs and expectations.
The volunteer travel website connects consumers to a database of almost 4,000 vetted vacations around the globe. It matches prospective do-gooders with packages according to interests, age, fitness level and professional background and earns a commission from each purchase.
Founded in 2010 and not yet profitable, GoVoluntouring was acquired by global travel giant Flight Centre in 2012 for an undisclosed sum. According to Alexia Nestora, a Denver-based volunteer-travel-industry expert, partnering with a major player gives the startup the time and resources it needs to ramp up and break into the black.
“The whole point of volunteer tourism is that you’re not going to save the world,” explains Nestora, “but it brings people into areas of the country that traditional tourists don’t go to.” With 70 per cent of GoVoluntouring’s inquiries already coming from outside of Canada, CEO and founder Aaron Smith hopes to position the Vancouver-based company as an industry leader in the next few years.