In Italia Andiamo!
We had been so busy with the other trips we had actually not spent a lot of time cultivating the Italy trip. I knew Teresa had put together a great itinerary and the price seemed right. Tuesday morning we realized there were amazing women ready to GO! Teresa and I talked it over and decided we could reinvest any profit from this trip back into the project and so . . I'm going too! That way, we can start working to create a real sense of "we-ness" on these trips. We now realize that's pretty critical.
So - three "big" trips are happening in some form this year: Boston, Peru, and Italy! Maybe not as big as we hoped in terms of size, but they are a huge sign of progress! We sincerely thank EVERY woman that has helped us get to this point and we want to assure you we are just getting started!
With each of the trips we have tried to lift this spring, we have fine-tuned our processes and systems and now we can reflect on them and refine them. It is clear we need to grow this network and we need to get many more people behind a trip before we drive it forward. We need be much clearer about how "Crunch Week" works. And we need to think about how we scale up those processes. But it's been a great spring and we can't wait to send some of our "pioneering" Travel Sisters off on some amazing adventures!!
Tuesday was startling. It was "Crunch Week" for Costa Rica and we had high hopes that 15 or so women would be on their way to Costa Rica in January. Our supplier Daisy had created a great website for the group, the price was on budget, the destination was amazing - let's go!!!
And then I opened my email on Tuesday and realized all the interest was dissipating. By Wednesday we had to collapse the trip. Teresa and I were kind if baffled. What had gone wrong?
One thing that is true but has never been the goal of this project is that if we get a large group of women to travel, Teresa and I can probably bargain for a low rate that will allow us to go with the group without breaking the bank of our fledgling business. I like that idea because, in my previous life as a teacher, I know that sometimes you need a group leader who will create some norms and customs that make the group feel and act like a group. Without that, you could feel like just a random group of people who happen to have the same itinerary.
Teresa posited that maybe that was the issue. Did we need the first few trips to be big, and have us along, to create that "group vibe" and make sure the norms and customs of Travel Sisterhood were firmly established? Once established, we could let other women take the lead, having experienced it themselves. They could be the "Moms" of the trips going forward, having seen at least once what a Travel Mom does on a Travel Sister trip.
Last night's live Zoom focused on that question and we got a lot of great feedback. We realize a few things:
- Social media platforms are great for disseminating info and posting reminders but community is not going to be built and felt there.
- Email groups are great for organizing groups but community is not going to be built and felt there.
- Live Zooms are great for introductions and building community but we need separate, dedicated meetings specific to each trip.
- Until the network is larger, we need to build one trip, it needs to be be "big", and Teresa and I need to lead it, on the ground.
- For now, all our efforts, Zooms, emails and newsletters need to be driving towards that goal.
The HARD question is - what trip will garner that kind of enthusiasm?? We need like 60 women to be interested and 40 to commit and go. Is that possible? There's only one way to find out - just try! And keep trying. It's the American way . . . cue the Thomas Edison documentary, lol!
One thing that IS clear is there are a group of local women out there who understand the potential for this model and want it to succeed. And they MIGHT even be willing to take a chance on a trip / destination that is interesting if not perfect and "vote with their feet" so this project can truly LAUNCH, grow and be sustainable.
SO, we are going to start pitching ideas. One every week or so. A destination / a date/ a budget/ an itinerary. And we are going to ask you to vote it up or down. Share it with your friends, get them to register so they can vote on the next one. I gotta believe, sooner or later, we will have that critical mass to do our first big trip and do it RIGHT. Lots of excited women, lots of energy, and a true group experience.
Thanks, team. You keep voting with your feet, creating the story, helping us chart our next move. We are listening and we are excited for what is next!
We haven't had much time for blog updates as we have been working hard booking Travel Sister TRIPS! Whoohooo! Reserving land packages and booking air takes a lot of time as we work with suppliers and consider all the flight schedules and options. It's like a puzzle and every piece is important to get just right!
We've got Sisters going to Boston, Peru, and Sunset Beach! Today we just got all the details for Costa Rica (January 2023) and "crunch week" for that week is April 18th. We will move on to the Italy trip (occurring Sept. 2022) "crunch week" in early May.
We have not had a lot of time to promote our Roads and Rails trips so we will do a bit more of that in April as opposed to putting out a new newsletter. In May we will float out the "Unique and Boutique" edition with quirky and unusual travel opportunities.
Recall that next week we are taking a week off for "spring break" - no online live events and our email groups will be kind of quiet.
We've realized our in-person live event on 5/28 is Memorial Day weekend, and so we will need to reschedule that. Same with the 7/2 event on July 4th weekend. So, we will update the "ticker file" and post it widely when we do.
Thanks for reading the update - Happy Spring everybody!