How Wejugo is shaping sustainable adventure travel
We sat down with our chairman and leading adventure travel expert, Tim Macartney-Snape, to find out why he decided to take on the role of chairman for Wejugo, and what contribution he believes Wejugo will make towards the growth and understanding of responsible and sustainable travel.
Hi Tim, thanks for joining us today. You have an incredible amount of practical and consulting experience with the outdoor adventure industry. Why did you agree to be chairman for Wejugo, and what about the company’s mission inspires you?
The possibility of creating a digital platform that could be an umbrella for adventure activities really appealed to me. It struck me that having a digital tool that could be used for planning, mapping, informing, tracking, recording and sharing adventures would be the holy grail of digital technology for adventurous travellers.
Can you tell us how you first found out about Wejugo and how long have you been involved in the adventure travel direction of the business?
I first heard about Wejugo when I met Mike at a sustainable travel conference hosted by World Expeditions, where I was presenting the principles of Leave No Trace. He approached me to talk about how they could be incorporated into his new idea for an adventure planning app, so my interest has been involved from the very beginning.
A large focus of the Make Your Own Adventure platform is to create safer and more responsible opportunities for adventure into remote areas. Why do you think this is needed?
Because of our modern human disconnection from nature, most people do not inherently know and realise that their activities in the natural world can have a damaging impact. As increasing numbers travel into nature, there is a growing need to inform people on how they can lessen their impact. Accidents and rescues are also an ever-present risk that are the result of poor planning and inadequate sharing of information.
The Make Your Own Adventure platform is useful to the entire process of an adventure; ensuring that it is conceived, planned, implemented and recorded in a way that offers the user of having the best chance of employing best practices. If a trip lacks good planning there is more chance of participants having a greater negative impact on the country they travel through and on their own experience. There is also more chance of it not being conducted safely and accidents happening, which will compound the damage left and put emergency services at risk.
Damage to the outdoors is often driven by ignorance. That is, not being adequately prepared through either not bothering to research properly or by misunderstanding and underestimating what participants read or hear. The Make Your Own Adventure platform takes you through a step by step process that better ensures all the boxes are ticked, so people go out adequately prepared and are therefore less likely to have a mishap which almost always compounds their impact.
You’re a seasoned and experienced adventurer. Have you used safety and itinerary planning apps on your own trips in the past? What gap in the market does Wejugo’s Make Your Own Adventure platform fill?
I’ve never used them. There are no apps out there that fill this gap as comprehensively as Wejugo.
In your view, what features of the app make planning an adventure more effective or beneficial to a traveller?
Trip planning: Getting a group together and communicating on the same platform all the food, gear, itinerary requirements that each individual needs to bring. The responsible travel message and the seamless coordination of information in the event of an accident are also hugely beneficial to travellers.
Part of Wejugo’s vision is to share information with national parks on how visitors and travellers are using parks and recreational areas. Why is this an important part of the company’s mission?
For natural areas to be optimally managed it is fundamental to know how much usage an area gets from people. In the long term this data can be used to determine what resources need to be allocated to ensure a best-case outcome for the natural and aesthetic values of the area. For instance, should a track be upgraded, should camping platforms be constructed, should car parking be provided or upgraded etc. It can also be useful for biosecurity reasons such as the mitigation of disease and weed spread.
Do you feel the Make your Own Adventure platform will make getting off the beaten track more accessible for the wider community? Or are you more focussed on building awareness around safe and responsible travel planning with the current adventure community?
I think the greatest impact will be in encouraging newcomers to take up adventure pursuits. It will lower the entry threshold and ensure that they do so responsibly and in a way that minimises their impact. The hope is that device addicted/savvy younger generations will be encouraged to get out and be more adventurous because it helps them overcome their lack of knowledge and experience and gives them the inspiration to engage in adventurous travel. The more experienced they become the more inclined they will be to venture off the main routes
People who are already in the habit of going on adventures will find the planning and safety features useful too.
During your many decades in adventuring/ in the industry, what have you noticed has had the biggest impact on outdoor adventures?
There’s been a revolution in equipment, it has gotten better, lighter and more colourful so as a package in our consumer oriented society, it has made the outdoors more attractive, more comfortable.
In terms of minimising our impact, the Leave No Trace code of conduct has been formulated and refined and communicated better – but it’s an ongoing task as young people take up adventure activities they must be educated in the code and Wejugo can play an important role in that.