Corinna connects with fellow MBA from Santa Clara University, Riva Bacquet. Riva is a lifelong traveler who joined S.A. Expeditions to help create a more conscious and sustainable travel and tourism company. We dig into their journey to becoming a B-Corp, and how you can travel more sustainably and mindfully as you adventure around the globe on your next vacation.
About Our Guest: Riva Bacquet, COO, S.A. Expeditions
Riva envisions a world where all businesses act as a positive force, balancing profit with purpose. SA Expeditions is a purpose-led travel company dedicated to a specific kind of tailor-made travel. One that engages you more profoundly with the people and places you’re visiting and makes for genuinely life-changing experiences whether you’re traveling solo or sharing the journey with loved ones. In line with their values, during the pandemic, they received their B-corp certification and status.
Company Website: https://www.saexpeditions.com/
03:20 Attaining B-Corp Status As A Travel Agency
08:00 Traveling Post-Covid, Eco-Minded, Carbon-Offsets
11:00 Packing Light, Renting Gear, etc.
14:00 Travel Destinations, Giving Back
16:30 The Problems of “Over-tourism” to Destinations
19:50 Riva’s Favorite Travel Destinations (Galapagos, Machu Pichu, Amazon River Cruises)
22:15 Culture, Language & Travel
25:57 Travel Trends = Ecotourism, conscious travel, family travel
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Hello, fellow do-gooders and friends. I’m your host, Corinna Bellizzi, and activist, and cause marketer. Who’s passionate about social impact and sustainability. Today. We’re going to talk about wanderlust and travel. As I invite you to meet a dear friend and member of my MBA cohort at Santa Clara university, Riva Bacquet.
Hey, before I introduce Riva, I’d like to invite you to visit our website: CareMoreBeBetter.com. You can sign up for our newsletter to be the first to gain access to new episodes and easily browse past content to find the episodes that matter most to you, you’ll find full transcripts suggestions for actions you can take to make a difference, and you can even join our community and make a donation right on the site.
After a year of travel, locked down due to COVID, we’re delighted to indulge our desire to travel Riva. Baquet envisions a world where all businesses act as a positive force. Balancing profit with purpose S.A. Expeditions is a purpose led travel company dedicated to tailor made travel. One that profoundly engages you with the people and places that you’re visiting to create genuinely life-changing experiences. Aligned with their core values. They earned certification as a B Corp during this pandemic. So Riva, welcome to the show.
Thank you so much for having me.
I like you to tell us about your background. How did you get into travel?
I was really lucky to have parents that love to travel.
So they instilled a deep desire and passion for travel very young in me. So I traveled to Europe as a teenager and actually worked, since I was age 13 or so to save up money, to travel internationally myself right after high school. So it’s just been a big part of my life, even though I never assumed or realized that I’d eventually work in the industry.
So what’s unique about how this company in particular does travel?
Well. We really wanted to provide a type of travel that is personal and really unique to the each individual and a sort of transformative type of travel. So it’s not your run of the mill standard group trips that anybody can take.
These are trips that are designed special for you. And so that means that they are usually with a private guide and designed just for your party. We really believe that. The business of travel and exploration should act as an economic engine for good. So driving awareness and resource protection and sustainable development for places in communities around the world.
Well, that’s really great. I mean, you spoke about becoming B Corp certified and the midst of the pandemic. So why don’t you talk about that choice and how you’re having an impact within the travel world?
So we had been interested in B Corp ever since we heard about it. A B Corp is basically a business that’s committed to protecting the broad interests of all beneficiaries for a more equitable economy.
So they’re balancing profit with purpose. And this really resonated with us. So when we learned of it and we were interested right away to learn more and see how we might be able to get this certification and this was before the pandemic. And so when the pandemic hit, we did have a moment where we thought to ourselves, is this something that we should continue even during these challenging times?
And we decided to go for it because these times shouldn’t change us or change our values. So we continue to work towards it and we’re able to achieve it during the pandemic.
In my earlier episode, I believe it was episode seven with Eliza Erskine. We talked a lot about what it means to be B Corp and how a company really has to go through several steps in order to get there often has to work with somebody who is somewhat of a specialist that helps them rate themselves going in.
So they have a better idea. Perform on the checklist and the types of changes they’ll need to make as a business. So did you find that that was a really arduous path or were you already doing most of the work?
We went into it a bit naive. So we, they have a B Corp assessment survey it’s quite long, but you can take it yourself before to kind of see where you fall and then they go through a long audit with you to check the evidence essentially, and make sure that you’re, you’re actually following through with the things that you’re claiming.
So we didn’t get any outside help, but there were some things that we shifted during the process. We worked on it for, I think, nearly two years in the end. And there was a lot. Places where we saw opportunity to, to grow in the future, which was exciting to see. But there was a lot of things that we already had in place as well.
So it was about gathering the evidence, which was a process in itself to be able to demonstrate, , where we were having that impact. But it was really rewarding to see that we were already being able to manifest a lot of our values into our business decisions.
Well, that’s so cool. Now I would just love for our audience to be able to get a more granular view on this. So is there one thing that you had to change or just something that really stood out as you were going through the process of becoming B Corp certified?
There were some interesting aspects where it was hard to find alignment. I mean, B Corp does this incredible job of creating an assessment that is applicable to a wide range of industries, which is hard to do, and they assess you along different themes and, and, and you usually fall into one particular theme where you really are able to get them the majority of your points from.
So we started off on the wrong theme at first and then realized we had to shift gears. Also we’re a remote company and there was a lot in there about how you give back locally. And so that was an interesting complexity that we see ourselves as a remote company and more and more companies out there are becoming remote.
And so that question of how you impact your local society, your local economy gets a lot more interesting. So working around that and finding ways where we could make sure we were honoring the essence of that question, but without actually having a, necessarily a physical space of our own.
So you Riva and city X might work at a local shelter during the holiday season to give food and resources and somebody across the globe might be doing the same thing in their areas.
Yes. So we looked at it from a business perspective, like where we do the most business, both where our team is sort of located as well as where our business occurs most to make sure that we were giving back locally in that regard.
And then we also, one of the things that we initiated during the process was a charity matching program, as well as we implemented the option where you could take time off, unlimited time off for. For volunteer work that doesn’t count as any vacation time. So then those ways you could be making a difference in ways that were important to you and also in your local area.
Okay, can I come work for you? I love the concept of being able to have unlimited time off to work and furthering a charity. That’s very generous.
So as we look at re entering this travel sphere, and many people starting to book vacations around the globe, what should they be considering and keeping in mind when they make their travel choices, if you could speak to that?
One of the most important concerns around travel. Separate from the pandemic in itself is just the carbon emissions that it includes. So international flights are, , a big factor in carbon emissions around the world. So one simple thing that they can do is offset those emissions and travel with companies that are carbon neutral.
And so, and people don’t realize that it’s actually quite affordable. So you can offset an international roundtrip flight for. As little as $50 and it makes a big difference. There’s a lots of other things that people can do, like going to destinations, aren’t feeding into issues of over tourism. So being thoughtful about where they travel to and how some places there’s so many places to see around the world.
And there’s no reason that we all have to funnel into these very small, specific destinations that have had the most media coverage. So avoiding things like that. And buying locally, , minimizing their waste, those, all those things can have a big impact. And of course, choosing their business that the businesses that they travel with, making sure that they’re B Corp certified will ensure that they are companies that are valuing a lot more than just, , Of the business.
Well, thank you for that perspective. I think as far as our consumer audience, many might not have even really thought about the fact that their air travel really does have a significant impact in so far as carbon emissions are concerned if we want to think back, but what was it? Gretta Thornburg decided to sail on the power of wind all the way to some media event, because she wanted to shine some light on that.
The fact that. We really do have quite a bit of carbon emissions even to travel. And so walking the walk and talking the talk for her meant sailing. So, , I think that’s really interesting that people can buy those carbon offsets as well, just for their travel. One thing that I have been an advocate for is really using the rental ability to bring things like toys and strollers and things like that.
When you come to another country because often. I’ve even heard people in my circle say, oh, we’ll just go to Costco and buy that when you get there and leave it behind. And I’m like, well, wait a minute. Like, what happens then after like, now you’ve just bought this disposable thing in your mind that you’re just going to leave behind after.
What happens to that? So for instance, when I go to Hawaii with the family, especially now that we have kids and we don’t want to travel with all this extra stuff, we will coordinate with a local rental agency that literally gives the crib, the stroller, the umbrella, the toys, beach toys, indoor toys, whatever.
And they’ll have it literally inside the hotel room that I’m coming to. I’m like, wow. So ingenious and it didn’t cost like more than I think, $40 for a week or something simple like that. So I wonder if those are the types of services you’re also advocating for. Do you plan for things like that for family?
Yes, absolutely. We do. In fact, in south America, where many of our trips are located. These types of rental businesses, aren’t quite, as , available, it would be a great business prospect for anybody that wanted to bring it down to the area, but it’s not as prevalent yet.
And so, but we have done things like even get those things prepared for our travelers on special request, by borrowing them from people we know in the area or people within our team to make it more easy. And then if you do. If you are making a purchase like that, just for the trip, we can certainly find a home for it.
That will go to someone in need. So there’s ways to work around, , creating this additional waste and, and make sure that, , anything that we do have is, is getting reused. As best possible. So,
well, I love it that I think it is really thinking full circle when it comes to our travel, what is our footprint?
What does it look like? Are we just creating a bunch of waste as we go into this space and then leaving it behind to end up on the beaches? I mean, how do we have a lesser impact when we go and enjoy the world? And so I’m just always been an advocate of. Packing light, but thoughtfully. And when it comes to something like, , beach gear for the kiddos, it’s often best to just, , see if you can rent some stuff, because that will just make the, in a much easier prospect overall, then lugging all of it and trying to fit things into suitcases.
Certainly, and we don’t want to stop travel. I mean, there’s so many benefits to traveling around the world and that the, that the globe is becoming more global and more accessible to people. The fact that we are able to have these exchanges that we, that we couldn’t before, it helps us understand each other better and, and have a more collaborative and cooperative world.
And so how can we continue this, this travel, this leisure travel. Becomes so much more accessible and, and available to so many more people around the world, but do it in a way that is sustainable, essentially. So like I said, going to more places around the world. So we avoid over tourism issues, engaging with communities in a thoughtful, respectful way when we’re, when we’re abroad and really yes.
Minimizing the waste.
So, can you talk to me about some of the travel destinations that you have perhaps spearheaded? Certainly.
So we started and as a south America travel company and have broadened over time to include all of the Americas from pole to pole and we will be going internationally as well outside of the Americas.
To include other destinations in the near future, but where we’ve done, a lot of work is actually in the area where we were born, which was in Peru. Many of us that are involved in the company have lived in Peru before, or, or live there now. And as a result, we’re deeply connected to the people, the culture, the society, both in Peru and, and in the wider region.
And so back in 2017, The co one of our co-founders and Nick Nicholas Santiano actually hiked for four months across this network of trails called the great Inca trail or the Kapok neon. And he hiked from Ecuador to the Cusco Peru region with the goal of raising awareness around these, this network of Inca trails, many people, when they think of the Inca trail, they.
I think of the four-day traditional Inca trail that ends at Machu Picchu. And they don’t realize that that is just one small segment of a large network of trails that are just as important. And so by hiking the trail and raising awareness, and then we, from there, we went and created a few trips that were along other sections of the trail to allow our own customers to come and experience it themselves.
And. We worked with the local communities in those areas to make sure that it was done in a thoughtful way, that they were included and engaged and could participate in, in creating sustainable business and for, for, in travel for their area. And so if you go to our website, you can see some of those itineraries.
And the idea is about. Helping them mitigate the over tourism that’s that is starting to occur in Machu Picchu and, and educate people about other beautiful I’m tracking opportunities around the region. So that’s one big project that we, that we spent a lot of time on, continue to advocate for. We also participate in reforestation projects in the Andes.
So. To help protect, , local areas that are, that are struggling by, , the introduction of, of foreign trees and deforestation. So when you go to certain areas in the Andes, we are planting a tree for every person that visits. So there’s different things that we have that we’re involved with in the area like that to, to help educate and, and hopefully give back.
Well, that’s really great. So I’m wondering if you could dig a little bit deeper and tell us what the problem of over tourism really is and what you’re seeing as a, for instance, at macho. Well, if you
went to Machu Picchu, like 15 years ago, it would’ve been, quite unregulated relative to now where you could walk anywhere within the ruins.
And, and, and now there, there are specific trails that you must follow as, as a guest and go in and out, along those trails within, within the central area, of course, in the, in the broader site, there’s, it’s, there’s still areas that you can walk freely around, but. It’s just, it indicates how things have shifted that that regulation is required.
And that’s really important of course, to help protect it. But it’s, it’s, it’s representative of the fact that there’s so much more demand and, you know, there’s, there’s questions around the, the economic growth in the area and what is appropriate and what is disruptive when you have a lot. Tourists and international travelers coming into towns and communities around the area and changing, , and, and oftentimes it’s for the better that they can bring, , economic abundance to an area, but it can also be damaging.
So you would just have to be thoughtful about that. And, and I think it’s not gotten to it. It it’s, it’s debatable, , what stage we’re at in, in, over tourism in the area. But I think it’s an important theme that we have to be conscious of around the world. I mean, you have these same conversations around all the cruise.
The cruise stops where these massive cruise ships get off in the Caribbean or in Italy and things like that. So how can we continue to promote travel in a way. Doesn’t contribute to these negative side effects. , whether it’s disrupting the local ecology, the communities in a, in a negative way beyond Ben bringing that, that economic growth to an area.
And I think also the safety of the travelers, right? That’s something that we sometimes forget about. For instance, every year, people at half dome in Yosemite. Somebody falls off, , they don’t pay attention to that sign that says, don’t step beyond this point and they want to look over the edge and something happens.
So, , just putting mindful measures in place to protect people and also protect the environment. I’m reminded of a car trip. I took a few years back with my husband when I was pregnant with my first child. We decided to go to yellow. When we brought our dog and we had this camper, we just had the most fun, but we didn’t realize when we got to Yellowstone, our dog would not be allowed on any of the trails.
Oh, interesting. So we had to leave her and the camper with the air conditioning going while we went on our mini hikes to go look at a lot of these outcroppings and such, because they simply weren’t allowed because they’re protecting the environment. And I get that too. It’s. Also probably protecting us because bears and other animals and who knows how a dog will react.
And if that might provoke a grizzly, right. That’s kind of the last thing you would want. Sure. So I think again, it’s just trying to keep a logical headset on as you’re approaching your travel journeys. So what’s your favorite place to visit? I’m sure you’ve been to many at,
My favorite place is probably the Galapagos islands and other very highly regulated place, actually that spends a lot of time and effort of course, on these topics.
Sustainability and, and protection of, of, of the local environment, but it is just a magical place to visit. So you could go either buy a small cruise boat. They’re usually about 16 people on these boutique cruises that take your on the islands, or you can do a stay on a hotel and take kind of day trips out to different, but it’s just an incredible place to be.
Gorgeous white sand beaches and the animals. And, even the island scenery that has beautiful volcanoes that you can hike to the top of with these gorgeous views. But it’s just stunning to see these amazing places, but also have the interaction with the wildlife. You can go snorkeling with sea turtles and fish and sharks and, penguins. It’s just an incredible place to visit. If you enjoy nature and wildlife.
And given that you’ve lived in Peru for some time, and that so much of your business is focused there as there a favorite underrated spot that you would recommend people look
Most people go to Peru for Machu Picchu.
Of course. But I would say that it combines very nicely with the Galapagos islands or in Peru. We have incredible Amazon to visit. So you can go up to the Amazon river too. We keep those and do a river cruise. Or you can stay closer to the Cusco region and go to a land-based lodge. And that takes you out on daily visits out to tributaries to the Amazon river.
And again, incredible wildlife. You get to see came in and monkeys and pink river dolphins. If you’re up on the Amazon river and take some incredible hikes through the canopy, as well as, , the Amazon floor. So it’s an incredible place to visit and quite a different scenery compared to the.
Archeological sites around Cusco, Machu Picchu. So that’s what I would, I would most recommend.
Well, it sounds beautiful. I know that these trips are curated by your company. So language, what is the impact? How do people connect with the culture and how important is knowing Spanish as a reference?
You don’t need to know Spanish because what we do is we connect you with local guides in the area, expert guides. They’re the ones that are taking you through this journey actually on the ground. So they are probably the most important aspect of your trip and they will accompany you.
It’s not a, it’s not, it’s not that. You every single step of the way we like to include a good bit of independent time, but they are there for you each day. However much you feel is necessary. And that’s how that, that discussion occurs in the trip planning portion. But they will take you on excursions daily to, , introduce you to people and places along the way to help make it a really unique and personal experience tailored to your own.
And so they are your, your friend, your advocate while you’re traveling through to make sure that it’s seamless. And we’re also there for you as, as a wider team, of course, but , the, the guides are such an integral part of your experience. And we have some incredible guides that we work with and what’s something that’s kind of unique about us.
We even though, , global travel is, is involves people around the world, the coordination of all of us to make sure that your trip is seamless. And so you might wonder how we pull that off with ourselves being so dispersed around the world. And one of the ways that we help do that is we have a summit each year where we bring our team together and that includes many of our guests.
And so we, as a team are really integrated and know each other very well so that we can coordinate smoothly. Regardless of where you are in the world, we’re able to coordinate to make sure that your, your trip goes perfectly. So that means, you know, you might be planning the trip with somebody that’s located in Texas and then hiking, , through Patagonia with somebody on the other side of the Americas.
Right. But they actually know each other quite well and have gone salsa dancing together, , in the Galapagos, let’s say the year before. So that coordination I think is really key and also a very, , Sweet side of, of, of engaging with our business because you can really see the heart and passion that we have as a company and, and spread throughout the team.
Wow. Well, I mean, I want to ask again, I mean, how does one join your team that you’re talking about being a multinational organization? If somebody has like. Fire in their belly for travel. And they also desire to do a lot of the work that you’re talking about. Maybe they speak multiple languages, including, let’s say German, English, and Spanish.
Is that somebody that would be of interest to you working with
your team? Yes, certainly. I mean, we have a careers page on our website, so anybody that is interested can certainly contact us and we’d love to chat. We are a growing company we’re still quite young and quite small in the scheme of things.
Especially considering our long-term goals. So we have a lot of growth ahead and we’d love to partner with, , incredible professionals around the world to help us achieve those goals. That’s
cool. So we’ve talked a bit about ecotourism and you are B Corp certified. So what’s next in this eco tourist perspective.
Do you see some other trends coming up? That’s
a good question. I don’t know that there’s a new trend coming up with, there’s certainly a lot more focus. I think by the average traveler, this sort of more conscious travel, especially coming out of the pandemic, it’s been a really hard year. We’ve all had to kind of take stock of our lives in a big way and think about, , who we are and who we want to be.
I think it’s, it’s been a year of introspection. And so when we get back out there in the world now hopefully coming more and more out of the pandemic, it depends where we are in the world. But as we ease out of it, there’s a question of, okay, how do I reengage with the world in a way that I, that represents who I want to be.
And makes a positive impact. And so of course we’ve been stuck in our homes. We want to get out there and travel. That’s a huge one. We, we want to get out and explore and interact and engage and, you know, be part of a larger community. And so more and more people I think are thinking about how they can do that effectively in a way that that’s in line with their values.
And I think, , where they spend their, their dollars. To help, , travel or whether it’s shopping, whatever it is is, is a big way that they can impact the world. I’d
like to know if you have a particular idea of what it might cost for a family of four, including myself and a three-year-old and a six-year-old to go on a trip like this, to the Galapagos islands from California.
Sure. Well, it really depends on the specifics because the trips are done in private. They’re going to vary a lot based on your group size and what you include, but for example a trip to the Galapagos for a family of four. Again, it’s going to vary a lot. I would say that you could expect maybe three to $4,000 per person.
So it depends, of course, how long you’re staying and what type of cruise you’re including and things like that. But that might be a good place
Of course, I need to start building that budget and take her up here and maybe wait for the three-year-old to be a little bit older. So they’ll be more engaged, less of a text to bring everywhere with me.
mean, , I have young kids as well, so I think more and more about family travel these days and the Galapagos is a wonderful place to go with a child, so we could definitely help to make sure you get the most out of it. And then of course there’s plenty of other places. The Americas. Do you enjoy traveling with
The thank you for the tips. I’m going to think about it and see what I can put together. Maybe a year or more out my present life with children. I’m always trying to plan a trip that has no more than one flight. So it might have. Drive on each side, that could be an hour or two, but the reality of trying to switch planes with a three-year-old is just not incredibly fun.
And I’m sorry, you know what I’m talking about? There you do.
Yeah. You’d have to look at where your airport flies directly to around the Americas, but I’m certain there’s plenty of options. So can make
it work. Yeah. So you mentioned that you have goals in sight for the business. What is your name? The school post.
We would like
to open up more destinations around the world and with the goal of bringing our type of travel to more people. There are people out there that like to visit every country in south America or every country and in, or every state in north America in their travels. But there are others out there that want to, , go to other regions and, and we want to be able to take them there.
So that’s our next goal. We’re going to be opening up a travel in. The middle east in Southeast Asia, as well as in South Africa. So we’re excited to do that and, and, and bring our type of travel to more regions around the world.
Fantastic. So when we add Egypt, maybe I’ll go with you.
Absolutely. I’d love that.
So part of the purpose of this show in particular is to inspire people to act. And so sometimes that comes from really unlikely places and even just the personal stories of our guests. So I’d like to know if you could point your finger to one thing that you’re particularly proud of from your personal or professional.
What would it be? I hate to return to the same topic again, but the first thing that comes to mind is the B Corp certification. On the professional side, this was a huge for us because it’s, we were able to recognize, , what we’ve accomplished and also help inspire us to stay on. Path going forward and see other ways that we can continue to embody these values that maybe we didn’t think about, or that sound really difficult, but are hopefully something that we’ll keep working towards.
So this side of getting the B Corp certification was was really what was the most rewarding for us as a company in our 11 years of business so far, because it. It’s a really important aspect of the business. We, we consider ourselves a purpose driven company. So seeing how we can continue to, to embody that going forward is going to be, it’s going to be
Well, I can just see a bright future for you. And I look forward to here. All the destinations to come as you continue building this eco-conscious travel company. So as they expeditions from well, south America and beyond now, so is there a company name change on site?
We will see , it started with essay and south America and we’ve grown much beyond that.
So it’s definitely something that we’re thinking about going
forward. Well, thank you Reba. Thank you so much for coming on today. This has been my sincere pleasure. Hmm.
Thank you so much. It’s been wonderful being here. Appreciate it.
Now audience, I like to invite you to act. It doesn’t have to be huge. It could be as simple as sharing this podcast with other people that love to travel so that they can make more conscious choices about the travel that they embark upon.
To find suggestions, you can always visit our action page on CareMoreBeBetter.com. There you’ll find causes and companies that we encourage you to support, including essay expeditions. And I invite you all to join the conversation and be a part of this community. You can follow us on social spaces @CareMoreBeBetter, or you can just send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I want to hear from you. Thank you listeners now, and always for being a part of this pod and this community, because together we really can do so much more.