Dec 14, 2017
Editor’s Letter. Issue 14. Winter 2017.
“Memory conspires against nature. The forgetting can begin in the instant that a change takes place… if you’re unaware of the animals’ past presence, then their absence will seem perfectly natural, and the question of whales* in the future simply will not occur to you.” J.B. Mackinnon, The Once and Future World: Nature As It Was, As It Is, As It Could Be.
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As a journalist-turned entrepreneur, I created The Outdoor Journal to inspire people to travel and spend time outdoors — and thus spark a desire to protect the outdoors and nature. So I was a bit befuddled when many readers asked us in a more generic way, “and when will you do trips?”. My initial response was, “there are so many great adventure outfitters out there, why should we do trips?!”. The readers would ask, “well, there are many, but we just don’t know which one to trust…”.
That was when the lightning bolt struck. People wanted the outdoors in their lives, but they did not seek risk — they sought the perfect illusion of risk, of adventure. Simply creating a media platform wasn’t enough — we needed to tie it all together and engineer an online platform capable of not only listing all the existing companies in the adventure travel industry, but also build an transparent system that could objectively promote good actors and eliminate bad actors from, quite literally, our ecosystem. How could we ensure that companies that willfully damage the environment not get unknowing customers, simply because they had a good website with great SEO or used Facebook for digital marketing better than the good companies? How could we help promote businesses that genuinely that cared about their customers, guides and the environment — but didn’t necessarily know how to build a great website or have a credit card payment gateway or reach international customers via all the confounding means of digital marketing that exist today?
In the last century, media businesses were the “platforms” that performed exactly the same function, relying on editorial integrity to recommend the best companies hence the success of the travel guidebooks, in that ancient era. But the 21st century decimation of the media industry by internet giants has created a deeper problem of trust, than reducing it — from fake reviews to fake news, from meddling in democratic elections by foreign agents, to the lack of authenticity in a world driven by optimizing “likes” and clicks.
On the other hand, we wanted to build an ethical, social impact startup, with the goal of using adventure travel as a way to make the world a better place. This vision was recently validated when we won a major grant award from Booking.com, as an early stage startup in sustainable tourism. Now I would like to invite you, our readers who started us on this journey in the first place, to begin your own journeys with the best partners — on OutdoorVoyage.com.
*Ed’s note: or tigers, or lions, or elephants or…