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What If You Could Crowdfund Your Dream Trip?

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Right now, Air Canada is testing a program that will allow people to do just that.

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We all have those trips-of-a-lifetime we’d love to take if money were no object. A new crowdfunding program from Air Canada is working to help travelers make these dream trips come true.

The program, Embarq, works just like crowdfunding websites such as Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, and GoFundMe. Once you register, you set up a profile with one of your bucket-list trips. Then you share the profile on social media, ask people to fund your fantasies, and sit back while the cash comes in.

The initiative had a soft launch in March but started getting more formal love last week. More than 800 travelers have signed up in that time, publicly declaring dreams to experience everything from voluntourism in South Africa to World Pride 2017 in Madrid. To date, the five most popular destinations are Toronto, London, Paris, Vancouver, and Tokyo.

In an article that appeared last week in Toronto’s Globe and Mail, Selma Filali, the airline’s director of marketing communications, was quoted as alluding to the fact that the new initiative is targeted at millennials—people who “want to see the world, but really lack the funds to make that a reality.”

Filali added that one of the incentives for travelers to use Embarq over more well-established crowdfunding sites is that Air Canada’s iteration doesn’t charge fees.

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While the program sounds like a great way to defray the cost of a big-ticket trip, it has a litany of rules and restrictions. First, as of now, Embarq is only available to people (of any nationality) living in Canada—if you try to log on from the United States, the website blocks you and does not grant access to the content.

(There is, however, a YouTube video, if you live in the United States and want to learn more.)

Second, funds collected through Embarq go toward an Air Canada gift card for airfare and things such as seat selection or baggage fees, not hotels, car rentals, vacation packages, on-board drinks, or travel insurance.

Still, the concept is a big deal because no other airline is doing it.

Reaction to the new initiative on social media has been mixed. While a number of people were excited at the possibility of getting a bunch of someone elses to pay for their next vacation, others were confused about why Canada’s national airline—and the country’s biggest airline at that—would get into the business of crowdfunding at all. 

An article on Tnooz.com indicated the program likely will be for friends and relatives to support trips. However people use Embarq, one thing is certain: It’s better for millennials than credit card debt.

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