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What are the Anthill Cool Company Awards?
The Cool Company Awards were launched in 2006 as a way for Anthill to acknowledge and celebrate Australian organisations that are doing things differently to bring about positive change. Cool Companies stay one step ahead of the rest. They breed leaders who are rule-makers and rule-breakers. They are trend-setters in attitude and action. Quite simply, they are … cool! More.
Company: Destination Dreaming
Category: Social Capitalist
Inspirational businesses often are created from the synergy of founders from disparate backgrounds. Web designer and marketer. Retailer and foodie. Engineer and artist.
And, of course, lifeguard and law student.
Destination Dreaming links Australian youth with development projects in struggling communities in the Asia Pacific. The business differs from many ethical-travel initiatives because, rather than providing a one-off, cookie-cutter experience, it works to develop ongoing relationships between the communities and Australian school and other groups.
Destination Dreaming was formed in 2004 by Clint Miller (the lifeguard) and Kate Miller (the law student). Clint serves as program coordinator and Kate as program manager. They’re headquartered in Melbourne, but loosely so, because they have deep roots in Fiji, their principal destination. Other destinations are Timor Leste, Samoa and Kenya.
“This year, we have assisted a rural village of over 500 people gain access to clean drinking water, secured government support for a school so over 30 children don’t have to walk two hours each day to class, and constructed two shelters so 120 children in Timor Leste can play and study outside,” Kate Miller says.
“We’ve run six days of life-skills activities for youth who have experienced domestic violence, and conducted travel programs for over 70 local students who now understand the importance of humility, being grateful for every day, and minimising their footprints.”
Kate says DD’s programs address the lack of life skills and intercultural awareness among many young Australians. At the same time, it collaborates with schools and organisations to deliver education and health-improving projects to disadvantaged communities.
She says Destination Dreaming exceeded its financial goal by 12% in the last fiscal year, allowing $20,000 to be reinvested in the business. Just as important, every participant described his or her trip as a life-changing experience worth recommending to others.
The company uses direct marketing to sell its programs, largely because each program needs to be customised to the client. That takes time. And then after a sale, there’s a gap of nine to 24 months before the trip occurs. “It has taken a number of years to build up a base of schools and organisations that fit our ideal client profile,” Kate Miller says. As the business grows, a key challenge will be finding exceptional, humanitarian staff who can maintain the level of service the programs are built on, she says.
Until then, let’s hear from one of Destination Dreaming’s participants (a quote courtesy of Kate Miller):
“It is by far the most amazing experience of my life. It is a completely honest, raw and meaningful adventure, bursting at the seams with non-stop laughter, discovery, life-changing lessons and love. … What I have gained from this short journey is intangible, but I carry it with me every day and am an indefinably better person for it.”
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