Small Business Fund Nominee Stories & Voting

THE CURATED SUITCASE

London, ON

FB: @thecuratedsuitcase

IG: @thecuratedsuitcase

*Answers below are taken verbatim from entry.

BUSINESS BACKGROUND

The Curated Suitcase launched in 2019, specializing in custom itinerary creation.  The Curated Suitcase was created to assist clients in traveling to new destinations and returning to beloved places, helping them to approach their journey as a traveler not just a tourist, and seek authentic experiences where they can learn about the people, culture, history and wonders of the places they visit. Our approach is to build relationships with clients and design a getaway tailored to them. A key component is a post-travel meeting to gain feedback on their experience, and discuss things that they learned along the way - be it something that shocked them, something they were fascinated by, something that was unexpected or validating. A portion of professional fees are held in reserve until the end of the year and at that time, those funds are directed to activities of social impact locally and/or abroad. Clients who have travelled within that year are brought together to share in the impact of this donation and to share stories from their journeys with like-minded travellers.  Rather than destination or demographic, our niche is philosophical - Travel has the ability to open your eyes, challenge your perceptions and beliefs, educate, and inspire. It provides experiences that take your breath away, and ones that motivate you to stand up for something and make your voice heard. Travel can and should change you. If we seek to understand the world, through experiencing the world, then we are poised to change the world.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR STRATEGY THROUGHOUT THE PANDEMIC?

In the beginning, my work shifted to assisting clients with cancellations and even repatriation. I had clients stuck in Peru and I worked with government officials to support my clients with communication and information to get them home as quickly as possible.

As all travel began to shut down, my focus turned inwards to reassessing business practices, viability, and planning for the future.

Looking head, I know travel will rebound but I am confident things will look quite different. I am preparing to support those who have the desire and ability to travel internationally again when things re-open, but I am also shifting to look at domestic and local opportunities.

I am paying close attention to how our province and country plans to re-open and what that might mean for Canadian tourism. I am also keeping a pulse on similar plans with other countries and the big players in the industry ie. the aviation hotels, attractions etc. I imagine we will see a resurgence of road trips, and family cottage or camping vacations. There are those that are ready to jump on a plane tomorrow, but just as many people who are conscientious and looking for opportunities closer to home.

I want to assist with rebuilding our local and domestic economies within the realm of travel and tourism. I have experience curating road trips, booking provincial park sites etc. and see this as a possible area of expansion for my business.

I will still continue to dream of and plan for international travel. We have seen fears of "the other" creep into the narrative during this time and although we will need to look at safer ways to transit and interact, I don't believe we should move into this new possible world by living in silos. COVID-19 has been teaching us many things, and I believe we have learned that we are more alike than different. We are all part of one world with a shared humanity, interconnected and similarly affected.

HOW HAS THE PANDEMIC & SHUTDOWN AFFECTED YOUR BUSINESS?

With the cessation of international travel, the closing of boarders, and stay at home mandates, my clients have had to cancel current plans and I am unable to book anything in the near future. Even those who were looking ahead to 2021 are holding off until we gain greater insight of what the future holds.

At this moment, I cannot proceed with my pre- COVID-19 operations. I am therefore looking at new opportunities and partnerships to pivot as things slowly open up.

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