Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Guest Blogger: The Road to Peace

We have a guest blogger this week at Ovations. I'd love to introduce you to this wonderful lady, but she prefers to remain anonymous. Our guest is a dear friend of mine who I met through our work in the travel industry. She is a seasoned traveler, with an ear for the heartbeat of the culture in which she's working or visiting. She is not a professional writer, and yet her words flow as gracefully as any prose I've read by my favorite authors. Please read on and join the conversation by leaving a comment at the end.

The Road to Peace
By Anonymous

The other night when I was falling asleep, I was thinking, “How do we get from where we are in this distressed world to peace?” The end of a war brings a cessation of the strife and that is a relief for many, but it is not peace.

“So how do we get to peace?” And the answer that came. "Peace comes when all is forgiven, when compassion sees our shared pain, our shared fears and our shared hopes and possibilities.”

“Well that's great,” I thought, “but how do government and races and cultures forgive?” Governments, races and cultures do not forgive. People forgive, people generate and allow compassion. I am one person. How can I make a difference in the healing of our world? And the answer that came was, "I can begin, by looking at what I need to forgive in my life. I can begin by having compassion on others and myself.”

The world’s healing starts one person at a time.

I invite you to help heal the world by choosing to forgive people or situations in your life. Not just in broad terms, but specific people and situations. Today now begin to forgive and don’t forget to forgive yourself. All that is needed is the willingness to forgive even when we find it seems impossible. It can be instantaneous or take time. It only matters that you are willing to forgive and choose to see with compassion...

Peace and blessings to you.

Discussion: Are there people in your life who you can forgive? What can you do to help the citizens of our world find peace? Do you believe the world will ever know a true and enduring peace?

Monday, October 02, 2006

Notes on a travel show: Do you fear global tourism?

The Incentive Travel & Motivation Expo (IT&ME) is over for another year. Those attendees who contain themselves to a Monday through Friday work week are now following up on the business cards, notes, emails and to-dos that collect during this busy week in Chicago. I took Thursday night to myself in Chicago, where I had dinner with two of my author friends—Melanie Lynn Hauser (CONFESSIONS OF SUPERMOM) and Renee Rosen (EVERY CROOKED POT). Friday morning I browsed through shops on the Magnificient Mile and then took a late afternoon flight home to California. It’s Monday and I’m back to work with renewed vigor.

While I was in Chicago the FAA relaxed its regulations on what airline passengers could carry on for flights. This, of course, led to numerous conversations on the safety and security of air travel. While most of the people I spoke with at the expo had no fears about air travel and security while in foreign locales, they did relate concerns from their clients who aren't in the industry. Destinations such as Dubai had a large pavilion on the floor and despite the negative focus on the Middle East, the Dubai buzz was as positive this year as last.

The NoteWorthy Group, the UK destination management company and event planning house that I represent, didn’t have a booth on the expo floor this year. We found that last year I made as many contacts out on the floor as our managaing director, Susie Worthy, did sitting at the booth. This year we decided not to take a booth; Susie would stay in London, and I would go out and meet people on the floor. The strategy worked, for I met dozens of dynamic people who wanted to hear more about TNG and why we’ve been selected by Conde Nast Traveler magazine as the Top Travel Specialist for the UK and Scotland for two years in a row. This distinction speaks for itself.

I think London is a perfect location for a hip, exciting, culturally enriching destination for an incentive program, conference, or educational summit. Dollars for dollars, or should I say dollars for pounds, it’s a destination that works hard to compete with such tropical locales as Mexico, Costa Rica, and the Caribbean. Surprisingly, this year the number one objective I heard about travel programs in the UK was not the unfavorable exchange rate and expense of the UK, but the length of time it takes to get to Europe as opposed to our neighbors to the south. And golf. Proximity to a golf course seems to be a top priority for travel planners choosing a destination for their programs.

Foot traffic through the expo appeared to be down again this year. We noticed it last year, but nearly every booth I visited remarked the same. One tourism official suggested that the amount of workshops and sessions cuts into the time delegates would otherwise spend in the expo. Yet others commented that the sessions were their first priority and time on the floor was spent targeted to specific vendors, rather than browsing around drinking up champagne under the British Pavilion, genuine Café du Monde latte at the New Orleans booth, or sake and sushi with Japan. A Mexico vendor corroborated this theory, saying she had fewer visitors, but the ones who stopped were decision makers looking to do real business.

Business dominates talk on the travel floor, but our business is about showing gratitude, inspiring goals, and giving people a good time. Many of the vendors once again outdid themselves with their evening galas thrown to promote their services and say thank you to their clients. VisitLondon threw a brilliant party atop the Sears Tower on Tuesday night. The Mexico Tourism Board’s dinner cruise on The Odyssey served food flown in from Merida. The Las Vegas party at Crobar was once again the hot ticket with this year’s “super hero” theme. A significant aspect of this business is working hard and earning the perks of performance. My pals Madelyn Marusa and Denise Dornfeld are two ladies who mean business on the expo floor, but know how to have fun at the end of the day.

So now I’m back to work, sorting through business cards, following up on contacts, returning emails, and looking forward to a productive season.

Readers of Ovations are an eclectic group of writers, travel industry professionals, blog-hoppers, and friends. If you read through this entire piece, how about answering a few questions. Tell me what global destinations you’d like to visit in the next couple of years, and why they appeal to you. And most importantly, in the political climate of the world today, do you fear air travel and global tourism?