We had the good fortune of connecting with Dominique Callimanopulos and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dominique, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I grew up traveling widely and became very aware of the diversity of the world’s cultures as well as the discrepancy in resources between local communities and jet-setting tourists. I realized that both groups have a lot to teach and offer one another. I started my company Elevate Destinations to introduce travelers to a way of traveling that embraces and explores local communities and conservation in a very personal and immersive manner, tailoring each trip to the interests of our clients and the needs and talents of communities. We began as a social enterprise, organizing donor trips for leading international non-profits as well as custom trips for private individuals and families that benefit local conservation and community initiatives.
What should our readers know about your business?
Elevate Destinations serves institutions as well as individuals. We organize first rate travel for social impact organizations such as non-profits and corporate foundations as well as custom trips for individuals and families that want to give back to the destinations they are visiting. One of the most frequent requests we receive is from parents who want to “get their kids outside their bubble” and introduce them to international settings for which they can develop empathy and compassion. Our donor trips are often “living events”, engaging travelers with many communities, issues and projects in a host country. These require an enormous attention to detail, which our skilled US-based team and local ground teams provide. There’s nothing easy about starting and running a business but I love (most of) the challenges and lessons learned. It’s not usually hard for me to make decisions, so that is a strength I brought to the job. I am very comfortable operating internationally and with individuals from varied cultures so feel very at home that way. The challenge for our business is to continue to differentiate ourselves in a world where sustainable and philanthropic travel have gone mainstream. We were one of the early thought leaders in the field when we began and are thrilled to see the rest of the industry heading in the same direction, giving us many more opportunities for partnership and collegiality but perhaps more challenge in portraying our brand uniqueness. We are leaders in working with non-profit organizations to take their donors worldwide to see the fruits of their investment. We have few competitors in that arena and a huge measure of accomplishment. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I am grateful to my parents who exposed me to a wide scope of countries and cultures growing up, the many authors who inspired my sense of adventure and the communities and individuals around the world who have introduced me to their worlds, issues and projects. I am also incredibly grateful to my team and staff over the years who have all contributed to Elevate Destinations with great integrity. My industry is made of of a fantastic array of creative and resourceful mavericks who motivate each other constantly.
Credit Leslie Hsu