“Adventure travel” conjures thrilling images of kayaking, bungee jumping, and paragliding, But responsible adventure travel encompasses so much more than a few fleeting moments of adrenaline—such as protecting natural resources, furthering climate change initiatives, and supporting small businesses in rural and wilderness environments.
The Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) is a global trade group that networks and educates within the adventure travel industry, and works to protect the social, cultural, and environmental integrity of destinations around the world. They have over 1300 organizational members and 23,000 adventure travel professionals following their AdventureTravelNews across 100 countries, ranging from tour guides to tourism boards to specialty travel agents. Each year, they organize a range of events along with a range of programs to support the industry.
Recognizing that tourism is responsible for 8% of global emissions, the organization put an aggressive climate action plan in place for 2020. These programs include a range of both travel trade and consumer elements:
“In 2019, we greenlighted a series of new climate action initiatives requiring fast collaboration from individuals across our climate, marketing, business development and operations teams. Professional Services helped these people come together quickly and efficiently to help these programs launch.” –Jason Reckers, COO
ATTA’s 50-person international team is 100% remote, so they adopted Asana as their work management platform to plan events and run other projects asynchronously. But because the team nearly doubled in size over the last three years, Jason Reckers, ATTA’s COO, knew they needed to learn new ways of using Asana to stay efficient:
The organization’s biggest cost was the team’s time, so Jason reached out to Asana’s Professional Services team to see how the platform’s latest features could further streamline ATTA’s work.
“Since we started using Asana, the platform added new functionality. Professional Services showed us how we could leverage the new elements to clean up what we had done in the past, use it better, and make it easier for teams to navigate.” –Jason Reckers, COO
The ATTA team chose the 10-week Accelerate package, led by Grace, their Professional Services consultant. This provided intermediate-level training to save time on event planning, finding information, and running productive meetings, which was critical because, as a remote team, they spent much of their day on calls.
An additional focus was to streamline their annual event planning workflow to avoid reinventing the wheel every year. For example, their largest event, Adventure Travel World Summit, has been running for almost 15 years in countries as varied as Switzerland, Namibia, Chile, and in Australia this year. The team had been using multiple Asana projects to plan it, and wanted to centralize their efforts into one template. In the course of the project however, Asana’s broad utility was quickly grasped by teams outside the core event planning group.
“Our Professional Services consultant was phenomenal, and helped us attack the problem in a short period of time. We made it through all our goals, and the way she ran the meetings allowed for extra conversation, so we got even more out of it than we expected.” –Jason Reckers, COO
That single annual event planning template project, significantly accelerated their work and accelerated Asana’s adoption throughout the company. Meetings have also become more effective—teammates view the meeting’s Asana project on a shared screen, so everyone is looking at the same information. They capture action items and assign ownership of topics as they go, saving time and creating accountability.
Their conversations with Grace led to additional “aha” moments, like learning how to make full use of Asana’s ability to add one task to multiple projects, or using custom fields to filter for categories so that individuals can focus only on relevant tasks and avoid getting overwhelmed. Their onboarding process has also been standardized and streamlined in Asana.
“Although I work outside the operational events team, I quickly realized the potential for Asana to support the work of our climate action team. With four new team members focused on climate in three different locations, having a central place for project work and conversations is invaluable.” –Christina Beckmann, Climate Action team lead
Within a week of working with Professional Services, teams that hardly used Asana started creating new projects, and they can just copy a template when planning a new project. The workflow improvements and efficiencies have helped cut down on overwork and stress. Jason estimates they will save 20–30% on planning time for future projects.
Slack messages about project responsibilities have significantly reduced, and because information transfer is easier, there is less waiting around for responses from remote teammates. They created “reference” tasks in Asana that hold important documents in one place for everyone, so there is no searching through folders for files. Their calls are also much more effective—and for a distributed team, this makes all the difference.
“We have the potential to save 20% to 30% of our time on the same projects, just from the new ways we’ve learned to use Asana.” –Jason Reckers, COO
The ATTA team’s use of Asana is enabling a series of climate programs to go live in the spring of 2020 that may have taken a year’s worth of coordination in the past. A carbon offset bulk purchase program for members, Neutral Together, will go live in February, allowing small businesses who previously could not afford carbon offsets to take action for the climate. In April, ATTA will launch the world’s first travel collective for carbon removal through direct air capture called Tomorrow’s Air. “Carbon removal technologies are not well understood yet, and we believe the travel industry has a valuable role to play in catalyzing their uptake,” commented Reckers. Bringing these complimentary programs to life quickly will allow more businesses and travelers to engage faster on this global problem.
The team is also working on expanding their AdventureEDU trainings globally to educate governments, associations, and individual companies seeking to make experiences safer and more sustainable. The more productive the ATTA team becomes, the bigger difference they can make. Thrilling adventures while protecting the environment—what could be better?
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