WHAT IS HEART OF TRAVEL?
Heart of Travel is a female-powered tour company that specializes in small group travel to Latin America. We founded our company with three major goals:
- To make a difference in the way people view Latin American countries and their people.
- To change up who is benefiting from tourism by putting more money into the hands of small businesses, artists, and artisans.
- To reduce our negative impact on the environment when traveling.
HOW LONG HAS HEART BEEN AROUND?
Heart of Travel was founded in November of 2016 but we really got rolling as a company in July of 2017 when Ana "Chiva" Castillo, born and raised in Guatemala, came aboard as co-founder. Over the past three years, we’ve seen steady growth and increased success thanks to our amazing team and loyal supporters. In November of 2019, we were recognized by the Guatemalan Institute of Tourism as one of the top 7 small businesses with the greatest potential to make an impact on responsible and sustainable tourism.
At Heart of Travel, we’ve always been the underdogs and challenges are nothing new to us. From earthquakes to volcanic eruptions, a tense global political climate and a lack of funding opportunities for women and POC - we have always persevered and found a way to overcome any obstacle put in our path.
BUT NOW WE ARE IN TROUBLE AND NEED YOUR HELP!
Nothing could have prepared us for COVID-19. In the past two weeks, our sales have dropped by 98% and emails to cancel and postpone trips have been flooding in. People are understandably scared and Heart of Travel is taking a very prudent stance of not promoting travel between now and August in order to help slow the spread of the virus and not put our employees, clients and freelance providers at risk. You can read off entire official statement regarding COVID-19 here.
We are determined to keep fighting but there is also no denying the numbers. Co-founders, Chelsea and Chiva, will be taking a 20% salary cut, with no reduction in hours, while other staff members have volunteered to take up to a 32% reduction in hours worked in order to lower operating costs in the coming months - a gesture that we greatly appreciate and that makes us that much more motivated to keep these wonderful people employed.
Even with strategies to cut costs, if we tap into savings and max out our modest credit line we can still only get through 2 months with little to no sales before having to lay people off. We know the world will recover in the coming months from this global economic and health crisis but in order to keep the lights on and avoid layoffs in the meantime, we need your help!
HOW CAN YOU HELP HEART OF TRAVEL?
1.Sign up for a trip! Trips from August 2020 onwards are still available for registration and for all 2020 trips we’ve introduced a new more flexible refund policy. See trips currently available here!
2. Write us a review on Tripadvisor so that when things pick back up we will get a rush of sales on day and weekend tours here in Guatemala! See our Tripadvisor page here!
3. Follow us on social media and share our website and social media accounts with your friends. We will be pumping out lots of fun and useful content in the coming months to build our social media following in hopes to grow our community and boost sales when people begin to travel again!
4. Donate to this crowdfunding efforts! Even if you just donate a small portion of what you would have spent on travel this year you can help us stay afloat.
HOW WILL THE FUNDS BE USED?
Funds will be used to cover payroll and office operational costs over the next four months in order to avoid layoffs as we continue designing new itineraries and planning future trips as well as creating more useful and interesting travel related content for Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and the Heart of Travel blog!
But this doesn’t just affect us here at Heart! The entire tourism community is in crisis and there are many small businesses, freelance guides, artists an artisans who rely on Heart of Travel for a portionof their income. Therefore, a portion of all funds raised will be utilized for a mini “stimulus” program where we will donate the equivalent of the average monthly income generated via Hearts tours to the freelancers and artisans who we work with on a regular basis to help soften the blow.
YOU HAVE THE POWER TO KEEP HEART AND OUR EXTENDED FAMILY AFLOAT DURING THIS UNPRECEDENTS PANDEMIC!
From the bottom of our hearts, thank you so all so much! Please stay safe and healthy and remember to stay grounded and grateful during these crazy times.
With love and gratitude,
Chelsea Glass & Ana Castillo