I think we can all agree that 2020 was just a ‘little’ different ehh. It was certainly one that we have put in the proverbial rubbish bin labelled ‘Not For Recycling’!
We don’t want any of that back thankyou!
That being said, there was SO MUCH we can take from last year. It was challenging for everyone involved in the travel industry, but you know what it was fantastic to see people come together, especially our community who kept going through adversity, stayed positive and pushed through a difficult time.
In no way do these challenges compare to the difficulties that were put on our awesome NHS and front line staff, the families who were impacted and the people who sadly lost their lives. It certainly put things in perspective that's for sure.
One thing I’ve always been passionate about is to remain as positive as possible in any situation. This was certainly tested over the last 12 months, but since the pandemic began, we have stood by our customers and wanted to make sure we were always ‘doing the right thing’ for them and trying to spread a little positivity in any way possible. In turn, the positive energy that has come our way has been absolutely amazing and a big thanks to all of you for being a part of it.
So we start this year with renewed positivity that at some stage we will get back to the mountains and the adventures that we love.
A great start, then what happened...
Then came the shutdown of pretty much the entire country and in turn the travel industry. I’ll never forget the conversations I had with the team as we rushed back to the office late at night to contact EverTrekkers leaving the next day with the difficult news that unfortunately, their trips had to be rescheduled.
As well as that, our EverTrekkers who had made Everest that week were now stuck in Nepal. With no hotels open in Kathmandu at this point, we managed to persuade one to accommodate our group as well as working night and day to get this group back to the UK. Although they spent the next 10 days at the hotel, it did have a swimming pool, gym, roof terrace and was stocked full of Everest beer - none were left by the time they flew back home I was told. EverTrekker Brian discusses this a bit more in an article in the Metro right HERE.
As we continued on into the year, we were not able to run any scheduled treks but the number of future trips that you guys booked was truly amazing, almost doubling our previous year, showing how loyal our EverTrekker customer base are as well as people wanting to get back on adventures when they can.
As 2020 came to an end, although it was a hugely challenging year, we feel we are in an amazingly positive space to get back to things quickly when we are allowed to travel once again.
Flexible Yetis supporting our community
Although the pandemic made us re-look at things, we have always been as flexible as possible with things in place like free reschedules, lifetime deposits and flexibility around payment options, but we made sure that everyone was supported with extra trip dates and even more flexibility to make sure they had a plan for their trip when the pandemic was over.
We were super happy that a large number of EverTrekkers rescheduled their trips to 2021 and beyond with less than 10% choosing to cancel altogether. We were very proud of this which showed a lot of loyalty and support to EverTrek in a difficult moment.
Connecting with our EverTrekkers
We have never been ones to take a back seat and during the early weeks and months of lockdown, it was no different. We knew our community needed us now more than ever, especially virtually as we couldn’t physically meet. We took this opportunity to start what is now one of the highlights of the week for us. The weekly Tuesday Tune-In. It was initially just meant to last whilst the first lockdown was in place but due to the huge popularity of the weekly live stream and the ability to connect even more with our community, we decided to make it a permanent fixture. Since that happened we have had 41 episodes, over 150,000 viewers and 1000’s of questions being answered, and plenty of laughs along the way. If you watched the episode around toilets - you know the score.
As if video wasn’t enough, we continued the very popular ‘Mountain Malarkey podcast’ for all of the podcasters in the community. As we all took to exercising from home, we needed to give people something other than Joe Wicks to listen to and the popularity of the podcast shot up. Our painted Yeti Dave is very proud of reaching the number 1 outdoor podcast in the UAE (not sure how) and number 5 outdoor podcast in the UK.
Well, not quite, but way back in May, the popcorn was flowing as we launched the 'Kilimanjaro - The Long Way' premiere. It was a fantastic virtual turnout and one of the highlights of the year.
If you haven't seen it yet, check out the full video below
Looking after those than needed it most
As the lockdown kicked in back in March of last year it became clear that the pandemic was only getting worse and was not going away anytime soon. The trekking season was stopped right there as Nepal shut its doors. This has had a huge impact on the guides and staff in Nepal who relied on earnings from the trekking and climbing trips to support their families and livelihoods. Something had to be done. Alongside some of our EverTrekkers, we set up a fundraiser where our community raised £3,500 which was sent over to Nepal.
As the pandemic continued we also launched the ‘EverTrek Jacket for Guides’ fundraiser where we had limited edition EverTrek down jackets made in Nepal and sent over to the UK with all of the profits going straight to our team in Nepal. We raised over $5,000 from the purchase of these jackets which meant much-needed supplies and money was divided amongst 60 of our support staff in Kathmandu and the trekking regions.
Although in a time of difficulty, it was fantastic to see our community work together to raise this awesome amount. It certainly touched all of our yetis hearts that’s for sure and we can't thank every person who donated enough.
Here's a few images of our Nepal operations manager Anuj in Kathmandu handing out some supplies and financial support to the Nepalese staff.
Midway through the year we welcomed two new yetis, Fiona Hawthorn and Allie Kenny Treen, to the EverTrek team as we expand our operations with new trips and adventures in 2021 and beyond.
Allie and Fi quickly became an integral part of the EverTrek family and I’m sure you might have even emailed or spoken to one of them since then.
You can read more about our new Yetis right here
Declared a climate Emergency
It’s always been a goal of mine to not only make an economic impact in the countries we operate in but even more so, to make sure we do so responsibly and sustainably. However, we understand that travel is carbon-intensive and it does put the environment under pressure just by travelling. We have seen the effects of climate change ourselves, even in the Himalayas in the 5 years since I first went to Mt Everest. It's our responsibility to be part of the solution, not the problem, and back in May of last year we became a signatory of Tourism Declares (Which you can read more about here) in joining other travel companies in making a stand and committing to taking purposeful action to reduce carbon emissions.
Although we introduced water filters to reduce plastic on all of our treks and offset our carbon emissions through tree planting with Mossy Earth (you can see how we have done this and more right here), there is A LOT more we can do. Look out for the 'Climate Emergency Plan' which will be released in spring of 2021 where we will be focusing on reducing our carbon emissions even further.
The Future of Travel in 2021
As I was writing this, it’s ironic that although I remain super positive about the future of travel, we are still in a national lockdown and I type this from my home. However, with the rollout of the vaccine in the early part of 2021 and work on quarantine reducing processes in certain countries, it won’t be long before we can all get back to the adventures we crave so much.
If last year taught us anything it’s that things can change at a moments notice, even more so it’s reminded us all not to take anything for granted, especially the ability to travel and move around. That’s why I believe that now is the best time to plan and the best time to set those goals and challenges, so when this is all over and we can travel again, we make the absolute best of it.
All of the Yetis and myself are not going anywhere and are here for you so that when we can get back to travelling, we can help make these adventures happen for you 🤙
CEO & Head Yeti