Interview transcript made on 28.02.2023 in Warsaw, Poland
With Natasha de Caiado Castro, CEO Wish International
(Special thanks to Aneta Książek, Head of the Poland Convention Bureau)
Beata Koziarska: Natasha, you have been working in international tourism and events for years, specializing in experienced marketing. Do you see that with the introduction of 17 United Nation ESG goals, the attitude of companies and event organizers in this regard is also changing?
Natasha de Caiado Castro:
There is a unique of companies that do want this change, especially the ones that are targeting for younger people. Technology companies, they’re all into green and into the sustainable tourism and they normally dictate the rules. That’s where we’re all going.
But it’s not every company that’s there yet and not every supplier that’s there yet. It’s a process. We’re going to be there but we don’t know when that’s going to happen.
For example in the United States, if you take a look at both coasts, New York and California, they’re there. Many tourism companies are there. They’re searching for carbon footprint. They look at the statistics. They search for companies that have the numbers and the information that they need in. They need to have the same, to be in the same level as they want. And if you’re talking about the middle of the United States, it’s taking a while more for them to realize that this is something that they need to be. And if you’re talking about Brazil, it’s the same, they’re all learning. It’s a learning process.
Could this involvement in environmental activities to neutralize the carbon footprint and social cultural activity become a new trend in experienced marketing?
Properly this can be also related to experience marketing. But I think it’s not a pillar, it’s a transversal. So it’s not like: this is green, we’re going to go for a green. Not everything has to be green. We’re not going to Germany, because Germany is green. Not everything needs to be. Converging into taking care of the process and the awareness are the most important.
If we’re transversal, then we’re good. Everything is just a natural part of it. We don’t have to impose anything. It’s not like we’re going to go there and that’s a “kamikaze” kind of thing where everybody’s going to hug one tree! We need to make things happen. But it will only happen when it’s natural. It’s gonna come natural, and I think it’s going to come with the new generations because they were born with it. They have this awareness that comes with the DNA, and also as a group they have this awareness.
Don’t you get the impression that the younger generations are angry for such devastation of the planet as has occurred, under our generation and our parents and grandparents, over the last 100 years?
All this climate change and all this devastation, it’s being already processed.
One generation comes always against the other, right? So, one generation breaks something, the other one fixes. The other one breaks something, that one fixes. For our generation, it’s a matter of choice. We can choose either we are involved in it and we like it, and we get our garbage on the right place and make things right. Or we just leave it and put our garbage all together, without waste sorting, and we don’t care. For the young generations it’s not a choice, it’s a must. It’s just a part of their lives and if they don’t do it, they’re going to be doing something wrong. That’s against their will. It’s against their tribes and what they believe in and it’s just wrong for them. It’s a different mindset.
What is the awareness of the need for “green business,” commitment to the UN’s 17 goals and ESG in the U.S. and other countries where you operate?
I think it’s a generation thing. The old generations are not really committed into it, and we’re learning. The millennials is the first generation that is teaching their parents. They are teaching us, and we’re teaching our parents. We’re good in learning, because we learn digital from them. So we’re good in learning some other things as well. Our parents are not used to learn from us. The process of learning from our kids is kind of natural, we know that we have to learn from them, so as we’re learning digital, we’re also learning “green”. From us to our parents there’s a larger gap. Our children are also teaching our parents but this is slower, it’s a process. I hope it could be faster, but it’s not.
What general trends do you see in responsible travel, sustainable incentives, green events – based on good practices from across the Atlantic?
Fresh perspective it’s the most important. Before we used to have an event that we put everything, really everything: the stage, the backdrop and all kind of communication, and once it’s over all goes to trash. Now everything is about feeling the sensations so we can work with lights, projections, smell, all the senses can be worked, in a different, trendy, pretty way. We’re not producing trash, means that we’re making the resources much more interesting and to make the projection we’re producing all kind of energies and that will go back to all 17 UN goals.
Regarding the food, before we used to have those immense banquets, now everything is catered and nicely presented, packed, small. It’s not a filler anymore, now the food is experience itself. And even if it is a filler, because you are hungry, you don’t need to throw it away anymore. Throwing away food is not acceptable anymore.
Gifting changed as well – before everything was plastic, now we give experiences instead.
So the key has been changed already. And the main companies already got it, technology companies are the first ones, and everybody is following. Again, it’s a process. They didn’t get there yet, people are still lacking the experience itself, guests are still surprised that there aren’t gifts/ gadgets at the event, but also accepting the gifts that are not to be thrown away, like reusable gifts, something that they can use and that they can get the experience related to the brand. That is a hudge trend in Europe, that is getting big in the United States and then also in Brasil.
What is interesting, it’s about 4 months of difference: things are happening in Europe, then in the US and then in Brasil. In the past, before pandemic, all new ideas were coming from Asia, then Europe, then Americas, but due to the pandemic now we don’t have the information from there.
Is it easy to convince clients to get involved in these sustainable activities, in terms of the events they organize ? – trade fairs, conferences, incentive trips ? do they see their impact on these areas and see opportunities to offset this impact, to get experiences with positive emotional residue ? Even if it means higher costs to organize the event?
If the client has the mind set already we can’t do anything. They come with their mind set for something and during the event process we have to do what they want. Of course, once we’re in the process we can start to propose some solutions, slowly go with little things, not coming with the big solutions. If we come with the big solutions, they say no. If you go step by step, stage by stage on every new event and by the end of the year maybe we will have one of the pillars of the UN and they will fill in.
Transportation: When you want to make the participants involve into the change process, you can propose four transportation options to choose: the plane, the train, the bus and the car. You put the price and indicate the carbon footprint, impact of each of them on the climate, and what awareness or feedback is it going to bring back and how can it be related to your goal to your public. Millennials are into saving the world, so you will be eco friendly and your public Millennials are going to see you as a heart company. Most likely he will not choose with the price, but he will go for the mission of the company.
Marketing person has to go and check the diversity, check everything that is related to the brand and the decision making of the public. The public is not choosing by price anymore. Nobody is choosing for price anymore, but for purpose, and for the concept.
Nowadays there is a lot of discussions about the impact of pandemic on the sustainability, unstable economic and political situation in the world, the threat of crisis, etc. isn’t acting for the good of the planet becoming less important? OR is now the time to make sustainable actions our most important goal?
don’t think that we may not do it. People took off the focus out of it, to “stretch the elastic”, but once things get back to normal, we need to move forward. I think during the pandemic it was a bubble. It had to be like that and now it’s gone, but people felt bad about it. It was one step back but now it’s gonna to go faster towards where it should be. We’re gonna get back to evangelize people again now, spreading the green knowledge and the awareness.
Finally, let me ask you one more thing. You are the chair of the jury for the UN Women USA Rise & Raise Others Awards, a program that recognizes the amazing achievements of women who fit into the UN’s 17 goals. What is the idea and importance of this program?
Hudge name, very powerful name!
We looked around and we saw that almost all the contests and awards we’re giving they have a sponsor. If you have a sponsor it means that we you have an agenda for it. United Nations doesn’t have the agenda. We saw so many women that are on the shades and doing everything on the mute mode. And we felt that if we don’t give them the voice they will never be heard. So the idea was to find them and to get them on the press, so we can get them the voice. We have chosen 8 out of the 17 UN goals. We got women from all around the world, some of them they have already their voice, some don’t have their voice at all, but their work is related to these 8 UN goals.
Some example: we have one candidate that is making change in sports, in rural areas, she gets girls out of their bad destiny and takes them towards sports, so they can get better chances in life.
There is other woman that is teaching informatic code to the girls in pour areas in Brasil, favelas, so instead going into prostitution, the girls are learning code and that simple fact could change seven generations, as they are supporting their entire families and taking them out of the poverty. So once we give them the prize, we also give them the voice. And this voice is making things well.
One of the ladies, she invented some indicators related to the cures for dementia, cancer and Alzheimer. For example, for cancer – when you put it on the saliva you can find out if the medication that the person is taking now is going to work in two years. That could change the chemotherapy forever. But it takes at least 10 years for the medical trials and approvals. And she’s not young anymore, being at her 80-ties, so by the time that she gets the answer, she might not be at the market anymore… She got the award, the information, all press went towards her, so she’s talking with all the press, and her inventions could save many women from cancer.
That what’s the award is doing, it’s changing lives.
This year was the first edition and I’m going to be in New York three days from now at the United Nations to talk about the second one.
In the first edition, we had the honor of welcoming influential and strong women from Poland and we are very proud of that.
🏆𝗗𝗼𝗺𝗶𝗻𝗶𝗸𝗮 𝗞𝘂𝗹𝗰𝘇𝘆𝗸 – in the “No Poverty” category,
🏆Paula Fanderowska – in the “Climate Action” category,
🏆Agata Maria Kolodziejczyk – in the “Quality Education” category, and
🏆𝗜𝗴𝗮 Ś𝘄𝗶ą𝘁𝗲𝗸 – in the “Good Health and Well-Being” category.
Yes, we had four ladies from Poland. All of them won. To be there, among these 32 finalists, it was already winning. We have received hundreds of nominations. We have made a big research, went all the way through their lives, and the Polish ladies they passed through everything, so they are all winners. There were two votes: specialized voting and public voting, but to be there is already winning.
Does it mean that “Green Change” is a Woman?
We have wombs, we are mothers. We are born with that. We are survivors. We have the power of giving birth, of procreating, of making men and women. So yes, we are like Mother nature, we have that power. It’s up to us, to teach men as well. And I think we’re doing a great job.
Thank you for this inspiring conversation, Natasha.
Very much appreciating your voice.
Natasha de Caiado Castro
CEO at Wish International with 4 offices in 3 continents . Board member at United Nations (Silicon Valley Chapter), Tourism Office and early stage startup
The founder and executive director of Wish, Natasha de Caiado Castro is currently recognized as one of the greatest authorities in the development of experiences filled with positive emotional residue. Author of the book “Marketing Experience”, Natasha lives in Silicon Valley, where she practices Tech Hunt, developing creative curatorship of content for strategy companies and executives of strategic areas. Her career was built based on the inspiring experience acquired in some of the companies in which she worked, like Coca-Cola and Walt Disney World, in Florida. Bachelor of Arts in Communication and in Marketing, with several courses taken at Stanford University, at Paris- Sorbonne University and at the Disney Institute, she taught Strategic Planning, Communication and Marketing at four different Universities in São Paulo. With 37 years of professional experience, she founded companies in three different continents, which became references in the MICE/live marketing/experiences market, serving global clients such as Samsung, L’Oreal, Nivea, Santander, Danone, General Motors and the Brazilian company, Natura. Natasha has a seat on the board of the San Francisco Travel Association, the official Tourism organization of the Silicon Valley, and is an active member of the Silicon Valley Convention, United Nations SV Women Committee, Latinas in Tech and is ambassador of IMEX for hosted buyers. She is also a contributor and international collaborator for several Brazilian magazines and business publications, always writing about experience and innovation.