GOGO and Olympus Tours Give Back

By Susie Reese

For a travel company, social responsibility is a key element of corporate policy, not just in the country of origin but also in the country of leisure. GOGO Vacations took it one step farther, and this year has been incorporating humanity activities into their staff conferences.

Dominican Republic Olympus Tours

At a conference in Dominican Republic, members of GOGO Vacations and Olympus Tours visited a church in need of funding.

Martin Cummings, area lead of Coast2Coast, helped to plan the social responsibility events in the Dominican Republic. “The GOGO area leaders decided that for our conferences this year, we wanted to incorporate some community service,” said Cummings, “so each of us contacted a rep in the destinations we were going to. In my case, it was the Dominican Republic, so I reached out to Olympus Tours.”

Olympus Tours GOGO Vacations Dominican Republic

Olympus Tours scheduled the event and arranged for transportation for GOGO consultants and administration.

Olympus Tours, a transfer and sightseeing company based in Mexico, is no stranger to social responsibility. In 2007, it created the non-profit Olympus Tours Foundation, which has benefited education, social assistance, cultural development, and environmental protection in Mexico. Though Olympus Tours had only been operating in the Dominican Republic for less than a year, they jumped on the opportunity to work with GOGO Vacations in the humanitarian field.

“Olympus, in turn, reached out to some of the charity organizations that deal with the local communities, and arranged for us to go into the actual community themselves, meet the people, and drop off some supplies,” explained Cummings.

The GOGO and Flight Centre, USA leaders visited a village where a devastating fire destroyed the homes of 32 people, and GOGO Vacations and Olympus Tours wanted to help the families rebuild.

“It wasn’t your typical donation of toys and clothing. It was building materials, like cement and roofing materials,” said Cummings.

The event also included activities with the area children, including playing soccer, making bracelets, face-painting, and even an afternoon tea. Afterwards, the GOGO and Olympus crew traveled to a school without any government funding.

Olympus Tours GOGO Vacations Dominican Republic

GOGO consultants and administration played some soccer, listen to the children sing, and introduced themselves in English and Spanish.

“It was a national holiday, but all the kids came in for the day,” explained Cummings, who added that Olympus volunteers also had the day off but chose to spend it helping the community. “We gave [the children] books and writing pads and pens, and then they went around the room and all introduced themselves and told us what they wanted to be when they grow up. Most of them wanted to be baseball players, teachers, doctors, or actors.”

Rachael Deede, an area leader for Flight Centre USA, has been with the company for more than 24 years and found the experience inspiring.

GOGO Vacations Olympus Tours Dominican Republic

Children even enjoyed playing on the consultants’ phones!

“[Cummings] really wanted to do something different with his team leaders at that conference that took us out of our normal comfort zone, which is generally sitting in a conference room,” said Deede, “and even though it’s always exciting and relevant content, sometimes when we actually look at the wider picture and what travel does on the ground—it’s not just about selling a package or selling an airfare somewhere; it’s about the lives we impact when we bring visitors across the world.”

GOGO Vacations has continued its social responsibility efforts after their Dominican Republic visits. It has helped in Cancun (also in conjunction with Olympus Tours), Las Vegas, and Atlantic City, donating time and money for worthwhile causes such as homeless shelters, churches, and schools. At the annual staff conference in November, GOGO Vacations returned to the Dominican Republic with their entire selling force, revisited to the village and school, and added two more community spots, a second school with 250 students, four teachers, and one toilet; and a one-room church. There, GOGO and Olympus volunteers brought more donations and smiling faces.

“[The children] gave more back to us than we probably gave them just through that pure experience of being something very, very special on the ground,” says Deede. “There’s enormous opportunity for us, for the company, to do more in that space.”

GOGO is already planning its next humanity effort in St. Martin with its business development managers.


Photos by Sarah John Afana