Rutopia

Rutopia - Connecting travelers with local communities in a sustainable way

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Authors

Christian Sofer

Christian Sofer

Kuldeep Vamja

Kuldeep Vamja

Krishna Rai

Krishna Rai

Karla Manzanares

Karla Manzanares

School

EGADE Business School Tecnologico de Monterrey

EGADE Business School Tecnologico de Monterrey

Professor

Francisco Layrisse

Francisco Layrisse

Global Goals

1. No Poverty 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities

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Summary

Rutopia is a social enterprise that allows travelers who are looking for authentic, off-the-beaten-path experiences, to access rural communities with hosts willing to share the natural paradises of their land.

Through their innovation, they generate more local work opportunities in tourism

Innovation

Rutopia is a social enterprise that empowers travelers, who are looking for authentic experiences. outside the conventional routes, access rural communities and live experiences alongside hosts willing to share the natural paradises of their land and the details of their culture. They want the trips to help preserve the cultural and natural heritage of Mexico through direct support to its protectors so that from their initiatives they generate a sustainable income that in turn allows them to regenerate the natural beauties that surround them.

Since 2017 they have been designing, together with hosts, the best travel experiences in the most beautiful destinations immersed in the inexhaustible nature of Mexico.

The specific innovation solution this business is doing for the UN SDG and a better world are the following:

1. First they have created a platform that can be used to book a trip, pay for it, and has a 24/7 support system. This is standard in the tourism industry but within the sustainable travel industry, this is an innovation. This system is also a way to guarantee the security of the customer/tourist from the beginning to the end of the trip. (very important in Mexico)

2. Another innovation is that it facilitates the local, rural and indigenous initiatives to connect with international and national tourists

3. This innovation supports the demassification of tourism and restructuration of natural surroundings because the rural and indigenous communities are the ones that live close to these environments, and through the promotion of local tourism, the local environment is put in the center. This way, the mission of Rutopia is not only to transform part of the journeys but also to transform the social systems within the local communities. The communities organize themselves in a better way to take care of their environment and protect their culture thanks to the economic spill that the visitors leave.

4. Last but not least, one of the most important innovations is the change paradigm of how the profit is distributed. Normally in tourism, the benefits are mediated by companies who are far away from the communities, and in this case, it is guaranteed somehow that the benefits are part of this productive and prosperous chain. Rutopia is very clear about where their money is going and they are helping the people who need it and who live in these ecosystems. In the old model, the travel agents used to get 60 % while the local communities only 35%. while with Rutopia’s main innovation and change of paradigm, the majority of the profit goes to the local communities (60%to 65%) instead of the travel Agents (35% to 40%)

Rutopia - Connecting travelers with local communities in a sustainable way

Inspiration

This project was created in 2017 when the founders, Emiliano and Sebastían, made a series of travels in which they notice there were a lot of dispersed tourist initiatives around Mexico, that didn’t have support and that didn’t have a place on the touristic map. So, they thought about and figured out a way to preserve the essence of that touristic initiatives and made something to more tourists visit those kinds of places not only for made them visible but also because there was a big economical income that could benefit those people.

In addition, during those trips, they observed that when the people of that community in Mexico show their environment not only share their stories, their origins, but they also empower their communities and the inhabitants because they can reuse the money they earn, therefore, they value their place and their ecosystems.

This initiative helps, on one hand to de-massify tourism; on the other, restoration of the natural environment because rural and indigenous communities are the ones that live there and in most cases, they don’t earn enough money to live properly if their principal activity is tourism because of the intermediaries. So, Rutopia’s mission is not only to change the way people trip but also to transform social systems inside the communities.


Overall impact

Rutopia has a B2B business model; it works with travel agencies that are already installed and has a lot of clients like “Kimkim” which is an English company and Evaneos from France. Within all of this, the fees of the agency and the operating expenses of Rutopia are collected, and a part is given to the communities. They support these touristic initiatives, and, in that sense, the local communities have their demands/requirements so that the initiatives can be carried out.

Nowadays, the company is very close to the breakeven point, they have already achieved it for a few months. They know that is a changing market and with the pandemic, they have had a lot of changes. So, there are months and months, but they are already very close to the break-even point.

On the other hand, Rutopia, 3 years ago, won the Hult Prize, which is this recognition that the UN gives to social enterprises. They competed against more than a hundred counties and they reached the first place, which is one of their largest alliances.

In addition, they have won other recognitions that have been helping them to advance, either in human capital or in real capital. As it was mentioned, other alliances they have are with travel agencies like KimKim and Evaneos. Another kind of alliance is, for example, media, they have also been mentioned in Forbes as one of the 30 promising enterprises of Mexico. They also continue looking for and raising different opportunities, calls, and accelerators.

They want to expand their business by doing more alliances with travel agencies that are established in certain countries, where there are markets in which they intend to grow. That is, doing business with others business, and as well we are also working through their social networks, interviews, and so on. What they also do is encourage the B2C market, which is like the direct market of people who can buy things through social networks or through Google itself.

In terms of expansion, they are working on offering more services to their clients; for example, “Rutopia accommodation” which is the possibility of staying in glamping, or other attractive and different places, so they also want to increase the market through that way.

Rutopia has a personnel hiring policy that is aligned with its culture and values. The people that work there have a common good, and also are persons that are interested in being part of a change. The values that they have are fully shared and work in a very empathic environment, very different but at the same time, it has a super clear mission.

The values are related to the usage of technology, very specific organization, empathy, and brutal honesty; they care a lot about the people behind the positions and are always looking to get closer, to support their learnings because they care about personal and professional development within the company. They are always encouraging learning within the company, so, feedback is very important, and also clarity means that each member of the team knows exactly their responsibilities.

In addition, a value that Rutopia has is that they do what they do because they want to contribute to building a better country and show the beauty of Mexico; so, they always look for people who are very aligned with that.


Business benefit

Rutopia has had different innovations. One is that they created a platform where all the initiatives are together and can be promoted. At the same time, this platform is used to articulate all the services when a trip is booked; it includes transportation, accommodation, different activities, food, etc., all that is needed in one click. Every service is paid on the site. Another innovation that they created is a change of paradigm in the way they were acting as an online travel agent, where they share 60% of the profits with the local communities while the old travel model only 35% .

In addition, to guarantee security, Rutopia has developed a 24/7 service that serves the company to track all the trips from the beginning. So, this is an innovation in the way that sustainable trips are made. Another innovation is that they try that all these local, rural, and indigenous initiatives have all the connections that are required, and the tourist has a comfortable trip without any problem.

Rutopia has impacted both sides: tourists and communities. The first one is because Rutopia offers deeply transformative trips, which means that tourists can live in nature and cultural immersion; after it finishes, the tourists become a different person because they live a different reality that changes their way to see their life. Second, communities, the principal one is the economic spill that they get because of tourism; the money they earn is useful for regenerating their ecosystems and organizing workshops and cooperatives.

The evidence they have to say that this initiative is working is that they always follow up on the communities and the hosts with whom they work. They like to have direct communication with communities to be better and offer a high-quality service to the tourist. At the same time, they can check if the community work to have a better place to offer or if they are engaged to show and teach their culture. Also, they are open to new initiatives that communities have. Being in contact with them helps Rutopia to see these changes.


Social and environmental benefit

The regenerative and sustainable trips that Rutopía offers are the opportunity not only to discover unnoticed jewels, made to measure, but also to contribute to a fair world in which small tourist initiatives guide our itinerary and transform our way of seeing journeys.

Rutopia is also the possibility of recognizing that although it seems that the opportunity to save the world is running out, we still have time. In time to regenerate our ecosystems. In time to save the traditions. In time to change the planet, one trip at a time.

Moreover, Employment for local communities (where the tourism activity is done, like the hotel) and complementary or related communities ( who for example carry the transportation

It promotes the continuation and creates awareness of the local cultural heritage, sense of identity, and importance of environmental sustainability for preservation

Rutopia provides training and knowledge for tourism Activities and also in terms of languages (English training etc.)

It generates a positive environmental value, as it promotes green tourism, they are also responsible for the potential negative impact on the environment and they work to reduce it. It enables sustainable consciences to protect the environment and the fauna.

Interview

Viviana Cohen, Marketing and Communication

Business information

Rutopia

Rutopia

Ciudad de Mexico, Federal District, MX
Business Website: https://rutopia.com/en/
Year Founded: 2017
Number of Employees: 2 to 10

Rutopia is a social enterprise that allows travelers who are looking for authentic, off-the-beaten-path experiences, to access rural communities with hosts willing to share the natural paradises of their land. Hence an alternative travel experience, and generating local tourism, through a fair and more equitable way of sharing income.