Business & Economy

CASE STUDY: Hands Up Holidays


Chris Hill

This is a case study on the Hands Up Holidays travel company. The case study focuses on details surrounding the founding and operations of the company by founder Chris Hill.


Chris Hill has university degrees in business and law, and previously worked as an investment banker in London. Chris currently lives in the UK where his company is based.

Hands Up Holidays is a travel company that combines philanthro-volunteering service activities with high-quality sightseeing and other luxury vacation activities. Furthermore, the luxury hotels they recommend have the best available sustainability credentials. It has two divisions, Hands Up Incentives, which offers corporate reward and team building trips, and Hands Up Holidays, which focuses on families and individuals.

This is the story of how Chris sought to incorporate his Christian faith into the design of a new business.


After six years working as an investment banker, in 2002 Chris took a trip to South Africa and while there he helped build a house for a family. The experience proved to be a meaningful one for Chris. Upon returning back to the UK, he was struck by how the building project had become such a significant moment for him during his trip and wanted to find a way for others to have similar experiences during their holiday travels.

Chris began to examine his current career and listen to where God was leading him vocationally. A year later, while taking a sabbatical year to study theology at Regent College, he took a course on The Soul of the Entrepreneur. The course crystalized for him that “entrepreneurial work can also be a form of worship.” As a result, Chris wrote up his business plan for Hands Up Holidays during his time of study. He also noticed how his heart “came alive” through this work and so began further efforts to turn his idea into a reality.

Two years later Chris was ready to launch the business in early 2006.

Vision and Goal

Chris’s vision for “Hands Up” was to create experiences of interaction between travelers and local people from the holiday destinations’ cultures. He wanted the experience to be a two-way interaction and exchange between the traveling guests and the locals so he focused on service projects that would be funded by their clients as a way to facilitate this interaction, while also providing a way for the guests to give back to the local community. He hoped that as a result people would have a richer appreciation of other cultures and be able to see expressions of contentment within a variety of lifestyles and circumstances.


Initially, Chris struggled to identify meaningful projects that his guests could be involved in. He also struggled to identify suppliers in the various trip destinations. Later on the primary challenge became raising awareness of potential clients about his business.

In the face of these and several other circumstances Chris decided to continue taking things one step at a time and trust in his affirmation of being called to this work.

God’s Faithfulness
Not long after Chris began planning for the company launch, he had a friend in a travel agency introduce Chris to their suppliers. This contact expedited his business planning and gave him key contacts that could connect with the local communities he wanted to serve. Along the way he also received timely moments of positive feedback from clients that helped him persevere.

Faith in Action

During Chris’s sabbatical year at Regent College he took several classes that had a profound impact how he designed his company; it also gave a renewed impetus for pursuing the business launch since it was during one of his classes that he first wrote up the business plan. Some key themes he learned during this time that gave shape to his business design were God’s heart for the poor and an emphasis on creation care. Some expressions of how his faith has played out in the business design include:

Environmental Stewardship
The company takes a holistic view in how the trips are designed. Those hotels that have sound sustainability/environmental practices are prioritized, and food choices are organic and local to the region. The trips also use environmentally friendly transportation providers whenever possible.

Care for Local Communities
The dignity towards all humanity is played out in how the company gives a concerted effort to respect the local communities of the holiday destinations. One way this takes place is how they refuse to be a burden on the local communities. Instead, they focus on projects that are suggested by the local community and projects are fully funded by their clients so that they reach completion in a timely manner whilst also providing employment in the community.


Chris, along with other staff, continues to run Hands Up Holidays from their office in the UK. To learn more about Hands Up Holidays visit its site for families and individuals at or its corporate site at

Source: Marketplace Institute

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