When I first came to the Adventure Travel World Summit in Quebec last year, I didn’t know anyone. I was one of two people from China, and I didn’t know the other. So I had no idea what to expect. I was feeling a bit like an outsider.
Then I went on the beautiful adventure day hike, donning my comfy Eddie Bauer down jacket. On the hike, I met two of my best friends since, Judith Fein and Andy Levine (@Duvine). We shared the joys and pains of running your own business, and shared tips on how to crack the Travel + Leisure A List. I was feeling like, “hey, I like this. This is a bunch of hiker/business people that I could hang out with.” Sort of like my own tribe.
Over the next few days, I met more people and shed tears over other people’s travel stories. Most importantly, I fell in love with adventure travel business again.
I don’t know about you, but for me, when back at home base, I often get bogged down by the mundane details of a cancelled flight, a 3am client phone call or the balancing act of figuring out staff year end bonuses. The business often becomes just another business, with the glamour and fun of adventure already having worn off. It’s at times like these that I asked myself why I was in this business. It’s a lot of work and it doesn’t pay much. I could have been a venture capitalist in a different life.
Then I come to an event like this one, and realize that I just love connecting with people. I love the great outdoors and enjoy sharing with others what I love. How lucky am I to be able to make a profession out of a passion? And, even better, there are a lot of us like minded people here. We are the lucky bunch, and we just love what we do!
So, when Shannon invited me to join the ATTA advisory board, I was delighted. Now I have more excuses to go on adventures and connect with like-minded people. Just like last night, I met Frank Murphy from Tahiti. How often do you get to meet someone from Tahiti? Not to mention someone with an Irish last name (@tahitimurphy)?
The theme of this year’s Summit is Share & Inspire. I want to remind us all that sharing and inspiring is a two-way street. Everyone has a story to tell, and a simple story may inspire another person in a way you didn’t expect. So, I want to encourage all of you to extend your hand and meet the one next to you. Share your story and enjoy the conference. And who knows, next year, you may be on stage doing what Praveen and I are doing right now.
Learn more about the 2010 Adventure Travel World Summit, held in Scotland, and read more of Mei’s blog entries on the WildChina blog.