The Expedition Project has been a challenging adventure. But it is an adventure that changed my vision of life!
Hi, I am Valentina and I have been working with The Expedition Project as a Tourism Relationship Intern since June.
In this time, I had the time to explore it and understand its different aspects.
The Expedition Project is an organisation created to do good. With little budget and big dreams, often primarily funded by Roger, its owner.
Unfortunately, during these months, I haven’t had the opportunity to visit in person the world that he has been working with for the past 9 years, but I had the possibility to get in touch with many amazing people part of that world and recreate an idea in my head. I would be lying in saying that it has been easy.
The Expedition Project has been a challenging adventure.
But it is an adventure that changed my vision of life!
The Expedition Project (TEP)
I will probably mention it numerous times by the end of this piece of paper, but this community has taken my heart. In a nutshell, it is a project started by the will of a man with a big heart to understand in person the challenges that South Africa is going through daily. These were including child welfare, education, wildlife, local businesses, and much more. For this reason, in 2012 and 2013, Roger and his team travelled to SA to visit some of the most challenged communities.
What often people don’t see in these projects based on travelling on the road and an adventure that seems just a lot of fun is the organisation: you’ll probably think that they just needed a plane ticket and a couple of hotels booked. However, this was an Expedition, meaning that is was meant to have Sponsors of every kind, partners like hotels and restaurants, and projects lined up to be visited and helped with. More than 6 long months of organisation, emails, frustration, excitement, and calls to end up with an incredible adventure witnessed in a vlog on their YouTube channel (Have a look here). In this exciting trip of 365 days, The Expedition Project team managed to touch 353 towns, help with 155 projects and find about 405 hospitality partners. I was astonished when I heard the story. It is an incredible mission, especially for the reason why it has been organised: HELP AND SUPPORT.
All of those 405 hospitality partners have been on The Expedition Project website for 9 years by now, for the only and single reason that they’ve hosted or offered food to the team. Roger has decided to offer free visibility, only for good.
When I just joined TEP I was a little overwhelmed by the number of information given to me. When I looked at the website I thought it would be a tourism-based company, but then I was surprised to discover an amazing community passionate about conservation and volunteering. The Expedition Project offers courses and live videos for vet students to discover wildlife and conservation and work toward their future into wildlife. I believe this is an incredible opportunity for those students dreaming about their future in this world, but not able to experience it due to obvious reasons. Roger, TEP, and its partners make it possible whilst helping animals truly in need of assistance. There is an incredible team of ambassadors taking care and helping put with the organisational side, along with meetings and university fairs to help TEP grow. In this post or on in our blog, you can meet the ambassadors and discover what they do! Along with their studies, they also manage other conservational pages that collaborate with TEP and to spread awareness.
My role, since the first days, has been to re-contact the partners who Roger met in 2012 and 2013, whilst coming up with new ideas to improve and develop the tourism side of TEP. We wanted to get in touch with each of them and create a proper relationship based on trust and held together by a common interest: South Africa and its communities. Whilst doing this, I remember Roger telling me that due to the new introduction of the enquiry forms on the website, we would have loved some help and support from the partners. New to this world, I was really positive and I couldn’t wait to chat with some of the partners who witnessed the Expedition 9 years ago.
How it is going now?
My positivity hasn’t gone anywhere. I am nobody to say so, but I truly believe that The Expedition Project has some incredible potential and deserves to be more popular than it actually is. Now, at 500 members, the community is enthusiastic and interested in the cause. The conservational side of TEP, with all its 155 projects is worthwhile all the efforts. On another hand, the tourism side hasn’t really taken off during these years, and the reason for that is that Roger has mainly personally funded the company and its advertising to support the 405 hospitality partners that helped, host and sponsored the Project when the team was travelling around South Africa. Very little of it has been thought of as a profitable business. Otherwise, it is purely based on the purpose of helping, supporting, and expanding a community.
The website has great visibility, especially following the recent statistics, we have worked hard for it and travellers seem to like it. For this reason, I think anyone having the opportunity to participate and be part of the community either as a partner, volunteer or traveller, should not be thought through twice before accepting. All these 405 partners have been on this website for years for free, listed on the website while providing a link to contact them or reach their website. An enquiry form was added a couple of years ago to be able to track them. Yet, believe it or not, that was especially to make sure that if anyone was messaging the properties, the user was getting an answer.
Things are developing
Between his job and the many tasks that the conservational side of the company needed, handling everything was really complicated for Roger. This is also why TEP needs another source of sustainable income coming in. This was why we decided to create this “commission-based relationship”. And honestly, I was shocked to discover how many businesses would have not even replied or considered our email, regardless of the words, shape, or message shared. On another hand, this company entered my heart. Every single email I send I truly, personally hope to receive an answer for someone happy to host us in the future, or happy to give us a little bit of that reservation price we helped them to get. And I had the possibility to chat with many interesting and strong people who managed to get through the hardest challenges.
Coronavirus hit hard, not only in the hospitality business but for us too. During these months South Arica has also witnessed political unrest, another challenge faced in the most difficult moment. This is our chance to keep the company together and keep working toward a successful future for the South African communities.
I have been working part-time since I started, and now I’ll have to reduce the time I can dedicate to TEP even more due to a new job starting in November. This month is a bit of a transitional month, where we are working to settle everything that has been moved, to be ready for a fresh start. And I genuinely hope that we will manage, together, to bring TEP where it deserves to be within this and the next coming months.
The Expedition Project is a company created to help, by a man with a huge heart and big dreams.
And it deserves to be known for it.