Hours of travel can be a great time for reflection. Without fail, every time I go on a plane, I look out the window and think about how incredible it is to be able to travel. I mean, we live in a time where you can book a ticket online, get on a flight and travel all the way across the world if you want – how amazing is that? Sometimes it’s the traveler who gets all the credit for putting it all together, but to be honest in my case all I do is book the tickets and write about my experience which is all pretty easy. For each step of the travel journey there are so many people who work in the travel industry that make these experiences possible. Today, I am writing to them.
I don’t know what you do. Maybe you load bags on to planes. Maybe you are a concierge at a hotel. Maybe you are a tour operator. Maybe you are a flight attendant. Maybe you are a travel agent. Or maybe you do something else. Either way, do you know how important you are to our travel experiences?
I know it is probably easy to overlook because it’s just what you do and each day is just another day in the office. I also know that you usually only get noticed when something goes wrong, when someone is uncomfortable or when half a story of an incident goes viral, but I want to say that I don’t know where us travelers would be without you. Seriously, let’s think about it.
When you simply fulfill the standard expectations of your job, you are a piece of a puzzle that makes exciting moments happen for others. People are able to create memories that will last them a lifetime, memories that they will talk about with their families for many years to come. As much as there is a bucketload of excitement when it comes to traveling, there are some tiring elements as well, like the time spent on emails and research when trying to plan a trip or the long travel days en route to the destination. When I was in Iceland, I wanted to book a snorkeling tour of the Silfra and like a classic last minute thinker, I made that decision the day before I wanted to do the tour. The staff on the other end of the emails answered my questions quickly, gave me all the information I needed and booked me in all the while making the whole (last minute) process smooth and easy. They were just doing their job but it helped me to create an epic travel experience that I will never forget, and they made it pretty stress free to put it together. You have the power to make these challenging elements a little more smooth. What a beautiful thing that is!
I think any time that you go over and above your expected role is a good thing and something we should all strive to do, but in terms of tourism workers where you are met with the tired face of someone who has been cramped in a plane, train or car for many, or even a few, hours, it can truly brighten a persons day. Take for example checking into a hotel. All that really needs to happen in this interaction is for the staff member to check you in, you give a credit card and in return you get a room key. Pretty easy hey? But I can think of many times where the staff member at the front desk has added that little extra pizazz when I have checked in, and asked me about my travel day or recommended a place for dinner. Little things such as this can happen in all stages of the travel experience and make a huge difference because they set such a warm and welcoming tone. It can put a big smile on that tired travelers face and make this new part of the world feel like home.
Then there are the times when shit has managed to hit the fan. I’ve seen when unreasonable people give you a hard time and it grinds my gears so much. Most recently, on a short flight to France, I saw a flight attendant being harassed by a middle aged American man because they had to move his bag, wait for it, a few overhead compartments in front of where he was sitting. From watching the interaction and the mans outrage, I initially thought they might have been trying to remove his liver with a rusty knife, but once I listened in I realized that no, they were just moving his bag and he was being a massive doushebag about it. Unfortunately, I see these types of situations often when I am traveling. Each time, literally each and every time, I admire how the flight attendants, hotel staff or other tourist workers are able to remain cool, calm and collected and deal with the situation at hand swiftly and professionally. For these superhero level efforts of problem solving in the face of assholes, I raise my tiny, travel size, plastic cup of champagne to you.
Tony Robbins says ‘the secret to living is giving’. I see you all give so much of your time, attention and care each time I travel. I see you working hard, with a smile, and don’t think I don’t notice that you manage to do all this while you must be just as tired as you work long hours or graveyard shifts. So, to all those who work in the travel industry,