6 SME Travel Companies That Are Innovating In The Industry

December 07, 2021
Keri Pfeiffer (she/her)
3 min read

The great travel reset has pushed tourism companies to leave behind a lot of what they know and look at the market with a fresh set of eyes. Although it’s been an extremely challenging time for the industry, many have adjusted their stride to reevaluate, reform, and innovate. 

Here we’ll look at a number of SMEs that are emerging as travel innovators, encouraging change and breaking boundaries to come up with a fresh way of doing things. 

The businesses are deeply embedded in causes such as reducing carbon footprints, positively impacting communities they travel to, and giving back to sustainable causes. 

SME Travel Innovators Who Are Rocking The Industry

1. Etnica Travel

Etnica Travel

Etnica Travel is a true travel innovator in Guatemala. The company is focused on making tourism inclusive in the country and does so by designing responsible, local, and community-based travel experiences.

This social enterprise works under fair trade principles, sustainability, and co-creation. They aim to value the cultural and natural heritage that Guatemala has to offer.

Etnica Travel uses its philosophy to create a range of unique travel experiences. This includes trips focused on the local culture and artisans, jungle trekking adventures, and journeys into the country’s cacao forests. Travelers can sign up for an existing itinerary or work with Etnica to create their own.

Over the years, Etnica has built strategic partnerships with local communities in Guatemala. Their current partners include a community library, a rural food safety project, and artisan weavers from San Juan la Laguna.

Through these partnerships, the company provides travelers with off-the-beaten-track experiences. Of course, they do this while giving back to these communities, supporting development, and building resilience. 

2. Recovery Run Adventures

Recovery Run Adventures

What happens when you combine running and travel with a mission to help women in recovery who are working toward sobriety? You get Recovery Run Adventures. We recognize this woman-owned business as a travel innovator thanks to its unique purpose and incredible tours. 

Recovery Run Adventures offers safe spaces and experiences to help women rediscover, challenge, and transform themselves. Their goal is to fuel the recovery journey and create lasting lifestyle changes through travel to select destination races. 

Some of their most popular trips include running adventures in Florence, Crete, Thailand, and more.

Aside from running travel adventures, the company also offers one-on-one coaching guidance to assist the recovery journey. Each session focuses on rediscovering purpose, passion, and connection for women looking to overcome life challenges, be it substance use, loss, or codependency, among others. 

3. Invisible Cities

Invisible Cities

Invisible Cities is a global social enterprise that trains people who have been affected by homelessness to become walking tour guides of their city.  Currently, it operates in locations across the UK, including Edinburgh, York, Manchester, Glasgow, Liverpool, and Cardiff.

The driving force behind these travel innovators is to empower people and uncover their potential. They provide homeless people with a source of income, train and upskill them, and the company helps to support them through personal projects. The training it provides focuses on confidence building, customer service, and public speaking. 

The enterprise partners with professional tour guides who help them design unique tours and practice routes in the cities they work in. 

Beyond the social element, Invisible Cities also offers high-quality and unique tours. Their award-winning tours cover interesting options, ranging from feminist tours to tours focused on the history of trainspotting. 

4. Femmebnb


Femmebnb is the first social networking vacation rental platform focused on women. The platform lets women rent safe spaces from other women to alleviate potential safety issues associated with female travel. 

Femmebnb also offers an innovative 24/7 Travel Assistant powered by artificial intelligence to help women plan trips from start to end.

In addition, the platform is designed for women to connect with other women around the world through ‘HerCommunity.’ 

HerCommunity is a unique online space where female travelers can find travel buddies in real-time, no matter where they are. Users can connect with women with similar interests, share stories and experiences, plan trips, find events, and share and discover travel tips.

Femmebnb are certainly travel innovators in the way that they’re changing the world of travel to make it a safer experience for women. Femmebnb can give any female solo traveler total peace of mind through their many welcoming spaces. 

5. Wheel the World

Wheel The World

Wheel the World are travel innovators focused on making the world accessible for people with disabilities. They want everyone to be able to explore the world without limits. 

In short, their mission is to make travel easy, accessible, and enjoyable for everyone. They achieve this by offering travel experiences with specialized customer support. 

Wheel the World allows people who use wheelchairs to go on completely accessible trips. They cover all kinds of destinations, from the streets of New York City to the beaches of Cancun. Travelers can book anything from guided multi-day group tours to accommodation and exciting trips and itineraries. 

The company is the most comprehensive guide for travelers with disabilities, offering the widest range of entirely wheelchair-friendly travel experiences.

6. Impact Travel Collective

Impact Travel Collective

Impact Travel Collective is committed to radical sustainability, innovation, and collective action in the travel industry. The organization works with independent guides and small tour operators to make sustainability in travel more accessible. 

This travel innovator is a platform that connects guides and travelers who are focused on positive impact tours. The organization is concentrated in Latin America, where they want to be part of a meaningful social, environmental, and economic movement in their guides’ communities.

Beyond their in-person tours, Impact Travel Collective also offers virtual tours that can be accessed from any destination. 


In a world craving connection and seeking equality, these travel innovators are stepping up to do precisely that. 

They are immersing themselves in the communities they travel to, enriching the lives of their clients, and empowering their teams to reach their potential. Above being a business, they seek out and create all-around positive and life-changing travel experiences.

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