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Book Review: Looptail by Bruce Poon Tip

Looptail: How one company changed the world by reinventing business

by Bruce Poon Tip, Founder of G Adventures.​

Can a company be cool…socially responsible…and still make money?

Looptail is the extraordinary true story of Bruce Poon Tip and how he honed his entrepreneurial instincts to create G Adventures, the world’s most successful adventure travel company. Based in Canada, G Adventures operates in more than 100 countries, on all seven continents, and serves more than 100,000 people every year. In this unique first-person account, Poon Tip reveals the unusual management secrets that have allowed him to continue growing his company, to keep his employees fully engaged and energized, and to make his customers extremely happy.

It’s all pretty amazing for a guy who started the business in Toronto in 1990 by maxing out a few of his credit cards to finance the start-up.

Poon Tip has worked tirelessly to ensure that his company generates good karma for everyone; his philosophy is that “giving back” in life and in business is all about the cycle of the Looptail. Poon Tip has created an entirely new and refreshing approach to management. For example, there is no traditional CEO at G Adventures – Bruce gave up his CEO title, instead giving all customer-facing employees the title of Chief Experience Officer, to emphasize the importance of their customers and empower everyone to lead with service.

But while there’s no CEO, there is a company Mayor who takes the daily pulse of corporate morale. There’s no HR department – but there is a Talent Agency and company Culture Club.

This is a singularly stunning story of why community, culture, and karma matter in business, and how one man’s desire to do the right thing and generate profits can be blended into a win-win for all involved.

I was given Looptail purely by chance. My boyfriend works in travel and was given a copy by a G Adventures employee at a conference. Not being much of a reader – he gave it to me as I love reading anything and everything.

From the very first chapter I was completely engaged. It made me want to both see the world and change it.

It’s basically part memoir, part business plan, part lifestyle guide. The whole thought behind the “Looptail” is that you do something good for someone and “pay it forward” then eventually the looptail will complete and you will get something back by someone else paying it forward. Like one giant karmic circle. It’s basically about living your life around being a decent person.

For me, at least, it didn’t feel like Bruce Poon Tip was trying to sell G Adventures to me as a reader. He was just talking about what they do and how they do it. But through doing so – I was totally sold!

It seems horrendous to me that the countries we visit to see amazing things – such as Machu Picchu in Peru, are not – or were not for so long, benefitting from having these beautiful locations to offer the world. So the fact that G Adventures gives back to these places and allows them to thrive and really live off the back of our travels sits very well morally with me.

OK, so this is not a traditional book on conservation or environment which is what I am promising here but I think its an important read as travel is such a huge part of our lives nowadays and everything is connected. If fair tourism like G Adventures offers can help lift communities out of poverty then, in turn, communities may not need to exploit the parts of our natural world as much, which helps conservation. I’m not saying this book will change the world, and like I said – it came across my path purely by accident – however, if it makes just a few people think about how they travel, or a few people “pay it forward”, then maybe the world can be a better place – even if just briefly. As someone who spends a lot of time travelling at rush hour on the tube in London, it seems to me that encouraging people to stop and think of others for a moment wouldn’t be such a terrible thing.

I’m giving Looptail by Bruce Poon Tip

4 out of 5

It’s very enjoyable and well worth a read, however it will make you want to travel the world which will play havoc with your savings.

If you still want more: You can watch the trailer for the book here!

“Freedom lies in being bold”

So why is sustainable or eco-tourism important?

The fact that tourism is such a huge part of our everyday lives means that the lives that we lead have a bigger impact on the planet than ever before. There are pros and cons to this. Con being that our carbon footprint is increased significantly by air travel, but pro – we are helping to develop the tourism industries and therefore economies of the far flung destinations we travel to.

Our love of travel has impact on natural resources, pollution, traditions and cultures, and part of the great joy of travelling comes from being able to experience these cultures that are so different from our own. It is therefore our responsibility to travel in a sustainable and eco-friendly way to preserve these things that we travel so far to see.

The tourism industry has increased from $25million globally in 1950 to $1.32billion in 2017 with an estimated growth to a huge $1.8billion by 2030. There is big money to be made in tourism as we yearn to satisfy our thirst for travel and adventure. Does it not make sense that some of this money goes back to the countries and communities that we visit – where it can make a real impact of the lives of the local people, rather than being pocketed by the corporations who already make millions elsewhere? The fact that you are on my website makes me believe that you agree!

So what can we do to ensure that we are travelling in the most sustainable way and that we are “paying it forward”?

Only travel with companies, like G Adventures, who work with local people and pride themselves on giving back to the communities that make their tours possible.

Respect the places that you go and visit – respect the people and their traditions.

Visit local businesses whilst you travel, try the local food – embrace what is different.

We are extremely privileged to be in a position where it is an option for us to travel across the world and see all the wonderful places that it has to offer. The least we can do is ensure that those that call these places home are gaining something from our visit and our custom.

Tourism isn’t the answer to saving the planet, but tourism relies quite heavily on the protection of beautiful or important places all around the globe. I want future generations to be able to see the things that we can see. So by travelling sustainably and thinking about the impact I am having on the world around me, I can seek adventures and experiences whilst also being safe in the knowledge that I won’t be the last generation to be able to explore and marvel at the wonders of this world.

Peace out, SWBC x

Written by Rebecca Hansell for Small World, Big Cause

4th June 2018

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