I’m sure most of you are being impacted in some way or another by the global economic slow down, and we certainly have been in the last three months.
Island bookings have dropped by 30% (not nearly as much as elsewhere) and cost of running project in Fiji has increased by 20% (fuel, food, materials, increased staff wages/tax, exchange rates). We’re certainly not in as bad a position as a lot of tourism companies – but it is going to be very tough unless we act now. The next three months will be the hardest as local travel usually picks up from March.
Along with team, I am instigating the following so that the future of Tribewanted and Vorovoro is secured:
1. Cut costs in Fiji
From Jan 09 all Tribewanted team members (22 altogether on payroll including non-fijian team) are taking the equivalent of 20% pay-cuts (voluntary and through team rotation) and I am also proposing freezing the chief’s legacy budget from January to make the additional saving of $1750fj a month we need to. Chief’s budget of $5000fj a month will not be cut so development can continue.
We will review the situation after three months. Currently outside Fiji the business has very little expense.
Anymore more partnerships we can form that are going to save on up front development costs will be of great help.
Tui Mali understands and supports the actions we need to take in order to save money.
Jim Kerridge, the project director, Ratu Tevita, community manager, and Ulai Baya, landowner (Tui Mali’s nephew) and Fijian company director, are implementing this.
2. Focus on local promotion of project
We have been doing a lot more of this already in the last six months and with reasonable success both in terms of island bookings and how these last minute tribe members have fitted into the project. The long-term success of Vorovoro will depend on this.
Paul Sloggett, Vitika co-ordinator and promotion of Tribewanted in Fiji, & Sara Jane, on-line tribe manager, are implementing this.
3. Building online marketplace for sustainable products
This is something Kaz Brecher, a seriously committed tribe member, and I have been developing a strategy for over the past couple of months. There are still set-up costs involved which we’re looking for partners to help with.
The ‘Vorovoro Sessions’ , our first digital musical download is not far from completion and I hope will be online by end of the year and will certainly support the local team in Fiji if it sells well.
Apart from working through these issues weekly with the team in Fiji I have spent the last three months networking, speaking (at schools, universities, charities and corporates), and planning for 2009 and beyond.
There are some great developments in the pipeline which I’ll share with you all in the new year once they’re confirmed. There’s still a remarkable amount of interest in Tribewanted from all kinds of areas.
Ulai (Vorovoro landowners) and I are still waiting on the Fijian government for the formal offer of land lease of Vorovoro even though it has been agreed between ourselves.
2009 will be a challenging year for all organisations in the UK, Fiji and elsewhere but we will thrive as we have a great core of energy (our members + our team in Fiji) and we are still young (as a tribe), mobile and are free to create.
2009 is also a good opportunity to ignite and invest in more sustainable lifestyles for our tribes and communities. Tribe member Alan Kelly’s recently installed home-made wind-turbine project – now standing proudly on Vorovoro in Poasa’s garden – is a great example of what can be achieved across the online and offline, local and global dynamics.
In the meantime if you would like a daily dose of ideas inspiration outside of Tribewanted, I recommend TED , my favourite other digital pastime.
Keep sharing your ideas and networks and our tribe shall continue to grow. Vina’a va’alevu for all your support on the journey so far. I’ll be out for a Christmas drink London on the 18th December at the Windosr Castle pub , West London, from 7pm if anyone is in town it would be great to see you.