Financial Transparency & Sustainability as Non-Negotiable

Ambrose's father founded ASI Reisen in 1963 with a clear mission statement: to open people's heart and mind to nature.

In 2019, Ambrose helped to redefine this statement without changing the central meaning. Currently, ASI Reisen aims to create sustainable experiences to benefit local industries and travellers alike. The focus has shifted somewhat in order to accommodate for local business while sustaining local wildlife and visitors all at an equal priority: the local community needs the same care as the environment and prospective visitors.

What is ASI Reisen's founding vision and why is it more important now than ever?

Ambrose's father founded ASI Reisen in 1963 with a clear mission statement: to open people's heart and mind to nature. In 2019, Ambrose helped to redefine this statement without changing the central meaning. Currently, ASI Reisen aims to create sustainable experiences to benefit local industries and travellers alike. The focus has shifted somewhat in order to accommodate for local business while sustaining local wildlife and visitors all at an equal priority: the local community needs the same care as the environment and prospective visitors.

Fulfilling guest wishes is just as important as delivering benefits for all stakeholders. In this context, establishing what problems exist for each stakeholder is crucial, particularly environmental impact such as carbon emissions, as well as being transparent in understanding how revenue is distributed and financial impact on local destinations.

Have you received feedback from trade and consumers on this approach already?

Ambrose explains that people are usually surprised upon learning that ASI Reisen is just as transparent with their own margins as other companies.

The margins in our industry are not extremely high, so why should we hide them?

He believes that in the future everything will become more transparent as a result of the pandemic, so why fight against it? Why actively be against the natural course?

What are your measurable goals, and what will you do with those goals?

There are two in particular for ASI Reisen right now. The first is tracking carbon footprints: this takes into account the output on international flights, domestic transport, local accommodation and any related activities. This data is tracked by how much carbon these sources output, in the time increments they were tracked in, as well as how they will be compensated.

Compensation is the easy part, as when ASI Reisen measures the carbon footprint they are essentially setting a status quo as well. Ambrose elaborates that the goal is to decrease emissions by 20% for the next year in a way that won't take from the experience of prospective visitors. The process involves putting themselves into the traveller's shoes and empathising with consumers.

The second goal is to measure the value of the local product. This involves calculating how much of the listed selling price goes in which avenues. These include local revenue, potential international services, international operational costs, flights and margin.

What would you say to someone who wants to consider this approach for their travel business?

"One of the biggest weaknesses in the sustainability process in the tourism industry is that companies might do a lot but it's not measurable."

Considering financial KPIs, everybody has been hit hard. We should develop clear sustainability KPIs in order to truly measure what we achieve, and as soon as we can. Ambrose describes the process as a marathon, not a sprint: it's a step by step process, leading to incremental success.

What is next for ASI Reisen?

Ambrose says this is just the beginning. Making things better is difficult, especially creating more revenue whilst decreasing carbon footprint. The goal currently is to improve KPIs and become even more sustainable, reducing environmental impact (in particular regarding plastic output), as well as many other projects coming in the pipeline.

What is the ASI Nest?

For the past year, ASI Reisen has worked alongside architects from Snøhetta to develop a new head office for the company. Ambrose describes the space as an inspiring, open space in the middle of the woods that feels cosy and represents the core values of the company. This office space is environmentally friendly and sustains the local wildlife. The concept of the Nest harkens back to Ambrose's father's initial vision, encapsulating the connection to wildlife.

How has tourism changed in your view?

These days tourism has developed a strong emotional component: numbers are important but so are the motivations behind reaching these numbers. Having a clear purpose and having a mutual understanding between stakeholders maintains this.


Key Takeaways

Published on:
December 2020
About the contributor

Ambros Gasser

Ambros Gasser is the CEO of ASI Reisen, one of the leading adventure travel companies in the German-speaking market. Founded by his father in 1963, a mountain guide, explorer, photographer and writer, Ambros was inspired to continue the family business in his youth.

Gergana Nikolova

Gergana holds a Masters degree in Sustainable Tourism Destination Management from the George Washington University School of Business. Her professional experience has exposed her to the different sectors in the travel industry enabling her 360° perspective on the sector.