Cutting off tourism has been painfully felt at many of the world’s conservation projects during the coronavirus pandemic, so andBeyond is set to start charging for some of its high-end virtual experiences to try to maintain funding for vital projects.
In the absence of room revenue contributions, finances are understandably drying up, but the safari and conservation specialist will now allow supporters to “invite a ranger into your home” to raise money.
The company has been working on andBeyond Connect – a range of experiences aimed at giving audiences in-home travel encounters – since the crisis kicked in, but will now charge for some of them in order to generate vital contributions.
Most of its offerings will remain available on a complimentary basis, but a new range of “private online experiences” will offer a greater level of personalisation and generate revenue.
These new Virtual Experiences include the ability to book private online experiences and some “face-to-(virtual)-face time” hosted by andBeyond guides at Ngala and Phinda.
andBeyond said 10% of fees charged will go towards Africa Foundation, the company’s preferred community development partner, with the remainder split between funding essential habitat maintenance, sustainability and conservation initiatives at reserves, as well as andBeyond guides.
The company said thousands of travel and wildlife enthusiasts were watching the twice-daily WildWatch Live safaris, with many asking about “connecting with the guides personally”, which had driven the new idea.
The Virtual Experiences include My WildWatch Online, a private virtual safari for one-and-a-half-hours for a group of up to six viewers for $250. This allows for a more “interpretive experience, allowing the opportunity to really deep dive into recorded sightings as well as offering the opportunity to discuss topics of special interest”, the company’s website said.
Other private viewings include ones focused on conservation, and a WildChild: Becoming a Ranger session, which up to 20 children can tune into for $20 for one hour.
Also coming soon will be Food Fundis to offer private cooking and cocktail demonstrations and WildWellness for yoga and meditation sessions.
Elements such as andBeyond TV (a weekly selection of live and recorded programmes including Protect our Planet) and the andBeyond Fireside Chats, a podcast channel, remain complimentary.