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Steve from World Complete - Treat travellers fairly

25 Jun 2020

World Complete is the travel blog written from the experiences of Steve Kennedy from locations around the world.
"The aim of World Complete is to give other world travellers a look at destinations I’ve visited and provide them with some ideas about what I think is worth seeing and doing there, what can be missed, where to stay, how to get there and where to eat. Through thoughtful words and imagery, I hope to inspire travellers to join me in my quest to get everywhere in the world... eventually".

Steve and girlfriend Holly
Steve and girlfriend Holly

What started your interest in travel and travel writing?
As a keen traveller and someone who already works in PR and journalism, the idea of travel writing seemed like a fun logical step.

Travel is one of my two biggest passions in life; the other being football. I already write columns for football magazines occasionally so I wanted to be able to also write about my other passion and share my experiences with people and see if they resonate. So far they seem to be going down quite well.

But if I’m totally honest the real incentive to write a travel blog came after discussions with my partner, Holly. I’d been considering the prospect of doing it and she gave me the push I needed to go out and set it up and start writing. I have a lot to thank her for, for doing that as it’s now got me doing something I love.

Why did you set up World Complete?
I wanted World Complete to be a good quality blog. I realise you can’t have perfection straight away, and that you won’t have hundreds or thousands of readers from the off, but it was important for me that the content included at World Complete was both useful and insightful.

Each time I post a blog I see it as an opportunity to learn more about this trade, and I think World Complete is moving in the right direction. It may not have new content every single day, but what I wanted to do is to spend time creating worthwhile content and then pushing it out to potential readers through the various social media channels available.

From the off, I wanted to make a blog about something that was important to me. I also wanted it to allow me to prepare copy at my own pace and make sure that what I eventually put online is worth reading. I’m really proud of what has gone up so far. Remember, this is still a blog in its infancy having only started up earlier this year (great timing to start a travel blog, I know). It always makes me smile when I look at the stats and see a reader from a new country access World Complete. To have readers popping up all over the world is really humbling and getting alerts of new readers from remote locations like French Polynesia and Mongolia is really rewarding.

The feedback I’ve had from readers, to-date, has been incredible and I am truly thankful for anyone who stops by to read my thoughts. If in turn, it inspires them to visit somewhere they may not have considered then, all the better. I really would look forward to the day that someone messages me to say they went to a destination and followed my tips and advice and loved it as much as I did. That would make the whole project feel worthwhile.

One thing you’ll notice, in the blog, is that I link to the locations that I’m talking about giving readers easy access to speak to hotels and activity providers etc. easily. At this time, none of these providers has sponsored my work to get mentions, so all mentions are organic. What’s been great is that a few of the firms I’ve spoken about have got in touch with me on Twitter (@WorldComplete1), Facebook or Instagram to say how much they’ve enjoyed my work and have then shared it on their own channels.

Where have you been based for the COVID lockdown and how have you been spending your time?
Well, this Covid-19 period has been a trying time for everyone but I consider myself to be quite lucky. Both Holly and I have not been sick and still in full-time paid employment which has meant that we are financially OK. This in itself is a blessing and one that shouldn’t be taken for granted given the impact Covid-19 has had on the world during 2020.

It has, of course, had its challenges. We both currently live together in a house I own in Dartford, Kent, the United Kingdom with our cat Mani. We’ve both consistently been working from home for a number of months now which has been a nice, more calming lifestyle than getting up early and travelling into London every day.

Fortunately, we both have family nearby. As Holly and I have known each other for over 20 years (although we’ve actually only been a couple for the past year and a half) our families live very close to each other so it’s been possible to see them consistently during this time from a safe social distance. Again this is something we are both extremely thankful for.

Steve and girlfriend Holly

How has the impact on tourism and travel affected you?
The only downside for us is that we’ve lost out on three trips that we’d booked before the virus took hold. We had trips to Portugal (Lisbon), Turkey (Istanbul) and China and North Korea (Beijing and Pyongyang) booked which have all been cancelled now. Got a proportion of the money-back also but (as many are finding out) the airlines are being extremely difficult when it comes to refunds. I find it extremely odd that hotels and Airbnb have been so good at refunding money in full but airlines create all sorts of loopholes and quite immoral practices to hold onto your money for as long as possible.

From a writing point of view, the downside has been that I’ve not had any new locations to create content on. It has given me time to reflect on previous trips and to plan future ones though.

My plan for the rest of this year is to do a ‘staycation’ road-trip around England, Scotland and Wales (when we’re allowed to) and make content from that. Living in a country you forget how much there is to do on your own doorstep so from that point of view it will be good to explore some areas I’ve not been to for a long time or have never ventured to.

Steve and girlfriend Holly

How do you think the industry will change in the future because of this?
I think in the short-term a lot of travel-related firms could struggle. I’m sure we’ll see some disappear completely, which will be a great shame, while other larger companies with bigger reserves will take time to get back to where they were. However, I think long-term we will see the industry bounce back. You hear people have got itchy feet and want to travel now more than ever. Being confined to a small location has made a lot of people yearn for their next trip abroad so I think, when we have the all-clear, people will flock to book deals away.

However, going on from my previous post, I do believe travellers have a long memory when it comes to firms that have treated them ethically and honestly during this period. Sadly, there are some firms who have not done this (and I see that as being airlines predominantly), so I can see there being a backlash against those firms in the future.

There is a big growth of digital nomads (before corona) how do you think this industry will be affected?
If anything, this period has proven that given the technology to hand these days, the requirements for people to be stuck in an office, wearing a suit (never quite understood the need for a suit in an office anyway) should be a thing of the past. It’s a much healthier (both mentally and physically) way of life to not be in the daily grind of working in a busy city and long may that mentality continue. Organisations that return to non-flexible ways of working will be seen as being in the dark-ages so it’s vital that we all learn lessons from how this period has worked and take the best parts of it forward into the post-COVID-19 world.

The travel industry, by definition, should be at the forefront of this movement. Allowing people to work from different locations in the world is key and from a writing point-of-view, you’ll get a wider variety of work from different groups of people with different outlooks on life. For me, that can only be a good thing.

Steve and girlfriend Holly

What are your thoughts on the status of eco-tourism in the last few years?
People are becoming more conscious of their impact on society and the environment. Seeing the various demonstrations over the past couple of years (Extinction Rebellion and Black Lives Matter for example) show that there is a growing appreciation that change is needed.

Eco-tourism is a by-product of that movement. Getting groups of like-minded people together in some of the world’s most endangered areas is a great cause to be part of. Ensuring tourism is done in such a way that sustains an area instead of damages it can only enhance the experience for them and for those who call those areas home.

We all have a role to play protecting the planet and no matter what people say, I firmly believe that the declining health of the planet is the biggest threat (bigger than any financial threat could ever be) we will ever know. There are no stocks and shares or investments on a dead planet.

Do you practice this ethos?
I do try to do this but, if I’m honest I still have more work to do on this front. I know I should try harder to source more ethically minded stays so this is forming a part of my viewpoint when I’m looking at my future travel arrangements.

Steve and girlfriend Holly

What is your advice to other people from the travel industry?
I’d say to the travel industry to be fair with its customers. Look after those who look after you when times are good. People will remember the companies that treat travellers fairly and spread the word about those who do not.

To the travel writing community, I’d just say keep doing what you’re doing. The content I’ve seen over the past few months has been superb. There are so many talented writers out there who really inspire others (without even knowing they are doing it) and it’s always enjoyable to read a different perspective on things.

Lastly, have you ever been to Koh Phangan and what did you think / or where would be a top destination for you to recommend when we can travel again?
I’ve never been to Koh Phangan but it’s on my list of places that I’d absolutely love to see. As I’m sure every traveller finds, my list of ‘must-see’ places only seems to get longer. I simply cannot tick places off quick enough. For every place I visit I find another 10 that I want to see. It’s
what makes travelling so much fun. Seeing somewhere new and exciting makes the whole experience worthwhile.

As a top destination for those looking to get away from the troubles of the world, I can suggest nowhere more fondly than Easter Island deep in the Pacific Ocean. This island is the world’s most remote inhabited land and you really do feel like it when you find yourself there. If you have the time to go, then do so without hesitation.