For the majority, our current lifestyle is far from adventurous, and travel seems like a distant, hazy dream. This time has, however, given us the opportunity for reflection of past journeys and recognition of the rarity and value of these experiences. We sit down with Emma Ponosby, founder of Satopia, which connects ambitious travellers with extraordinary, unrivalled experiences, with the mission to create lasting positive impact through travel.
Where did the idea of Satopia stem from?
The idea behind Satopia comes from a lifelong journey of personal growth from both the founders, Ahmed Gouda and Emma Ponsonby. Satopia was created with the intention to design experiences that profoundly shift peoples perspectives. This has been the journey that both Ahmed and Emma have been on personally in life, sharing a similar experience of living on different continents, exploring new cultures, and learning life lessons from those they met along with way… having the mindset of seeking knowledge with the intention to expand relatedness to self and others, is the character of the traveller who truly connects with Satopia values and experiences. This is who Satopia was created for.
Most of your experiences involve connecting travellers with extraordinary people in the food, conservation space. What makes these offerings so special?
A Satopia experience is about much more than a spectacular destination or an incredible itinerary. We take an approach that puts people first, we seek hosts with passion and purpose and those who are an inspiration to others. When you join a Satopia experience you are not only going to have the opportunity to get to know your host on a deep and personal level, you are also going to learn that you are not so different from them. When we listen to other people that we respect, that we look up to and admire, and we have the opportunity to learn from them, we realise that we really are all having the same human experience in life. This opens up a world of freedom and possibility for our guests through a series of carefully designed moments that couldn’t be experienced otherwise. Every Hosted Experience we design has an element of giving back, either to a local community, social or environmental cause that adds another layer of meaning to the experience of the guests.
In a time when the landscape of travel has changed dramatically, how do you see the future of our travel habits changing and why do you think it’s important to continue with our adventures?
Our experience of life and the notion that we live in a world of certainty has completely changed in the past 10 months for almost every person on the planet. From our perspective, the future of travel must become a lot more responsible for the impact that we have on people and the environment. We do believe that travel is an integral part of how we learn and grow as people. It’s how we discover the ways of life of other cultures and communities, it expands our horizon as to what’s possible, it fuels our creativity and through the experience of travel so many great initiatives have been created and important causes have received the attention they desperately need. When we travel again, we need to think more consciously about the impact on local communities, environment and wildlife, and how we can be a contribution rather than a hindrance. The travel industry is one of the most impactful industries in the world, it’s a collective of people across so many different cultures, communities, countries, beliefs, religions, ages and personal adventures.
A trip with Satopia brings travellers to some of the wildest and most stunning corners of the world. What do you hope travellers achieve from these once in a lifetime experiences?
Our community team takes the time to get to know each and every one of our guests. We learn about their personal hopes and dreams, their goals and their fears. This enables us to support our travellers in ways that are unique and fulfilling for each and every person. For each Hosted Experience, we curate an intimate group of like-minded people from the applications we receive. We get to know everyone and we look for the connections between people, the friendships that we believe will be formed, and sometimes the business opportunities that may arise between the guests! We design our experiences with the collective purpose to transform the lives of our guests, through a new world of possibility and long-lasting friendships formed through the different people they meet and connect with.
What’s your magic recipe for a memorable trip?
We’ll curate the space, the place and the people. It’s up to our guests to bring their body, mind and soul to fully immerse themselves in the experience. We often encourage our travellers to do something that takes them out of their comfort zone, to challenge them in a way that will have them do something they have never done before or that would stretch them beyond where they have ventured previously - either physically or mentally. It’s usually the challenge that we remember most. But we’ll make sure that there is a cold glass of Champagne, a wonderful meal and a comfortable bed at the end of the day!