A gaggle of Travel Corporation execs (from left to right): Brad Ford (Insight), Angela Bokma and Wolf Paunic (Trafalgar), Carla Brake (Insight), Jeff Element (The Travel Corporation) and Michelle Palma (Uniworld).
The stunning new WE building in downtown Toronto
It’s not unusual for a tour operator or airline to align with a favourite charity. However, the relatively-new partnership between the Travel Corporation (Insight, Trafalgar, Contiki, Uniworld, Lion World etc.) and the WE Foundation is quite outstanding, as I learned at a recent event at WE headquarters.
WE – formerly Free The Children, a charity founded by Canadian brothers Craig and Marc Kielburger – is an international charity based on principles such as health, education, water and women’s empowerment. WE also organizes volunteer travel around the world.
Thanks to the partnership, clients can now add a WE volunteer opportunity to a Travel Corporation trip with many of its tour operator divisions to Ecuador, India and Kenya. Tasks may include helping build a school or dormitory, or helping teach an English class.
The combined tours have been offered for a year, but Brett Tollman, chief executive of the Travel Corporation (and the only person I’ve ever met who has braille on his business card), is disappointed with the results so far and strongly urges Canadian agents to support the concept – which is commissionable and can be processed in one seamless booking.
He recently experienced a WE program in Kenya with his own family and describes it as “remarkably moving.” He does all he can do to support WE personally (quite a commitment as his family foundation also supports over 40 charities worldwide) – including recently donating all of his frequent flyer miles to WE. As he told me: “Of all of our charities, there is none I am prouder of than WE. It has moved me to my soul.”
Craig Kielburger, his Order of Canada pin twinkling discretely in his lapel, added, “The Travel Corporation has given us the most extraordinary gift: its expertise. Our two brands together will deliver a comfortable, safe and authentic world class experience.”
The event to promote the partnership was held at sparkling new WE Global Learning Centre, opened just last month. Located in a gritty part of downtown Toronto, the location is the headquarters of WE as well as its learning centre, theatre and incubation hub. It also houses a shop selling WE-branded products and items such as bracelets made by Kenyan women.
“The quality of these tours is amazing,” Tollman says. “And even better, they will fill your heart.”