French playwright Victor Hugo one said, beautifully and poignantly,: “Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.”
This statement, reflecting the moment when a small ember breaks free into a flame, perfectly captures these times for global tourism.
Never before has the value of the sector been so clearly exposed, so concretely measured, so collectively appreciated, inside and outside the sector. Never before has the global industry been so aligned in working together to maximise the enrichment of travel for travellers, and the benefit of travel for destinations. Never before has the role and responsibility of stakeholders across the tourism delivery chain been taken so seriously.
Because, never before has the role of global tourism as a ‘force for good‘ been so desperately needed.
The times in which we live can, so easily, feel so selfishly separating. Lines of division are being tested, not in their opportunity for removal, but in their threat of re-drawing. Walls vs bridges. Fear vs hope. Today vs tomorrow. As much as technology and travel have increased out ‘connectivity‘, sadly the stirring sentiments of division are bubbling aggressively, and audibly, to the surface. Social media is becoming increasingly anti-social. The global community is becoming increasingly local.
But then there is tourism – the only sector in the world that proactively, purposefully and proudly unites people of different places, different cultures, different faiths and different ways of living because of a desire, a genuine desire, to learn about, understand, and appreciate these differences, and in so doing, finding a common bond through shared time, shared values, shared appreciation. The only industry into which people invest their precious time, energy, money and dreams into this discovery of not just the world around them, but themselves.
For leaders in the tourism industry, the business case of the sector is a solid one. With global demand growing at a consistent 4%-5%+ since 2010, and future growth showing signs of sustained performance to 2030 and beyond, how does one prioritise? The number of moving parts is ever-increasing: increased momentum of travel excitement from existing source markets, along with new destinations, niches and travellers, reinforcing both the strength and that resilience of the sector, making for intense demands on the time and attention of leaders.
What new industry opportunities need to be understood and leveraged? What competitor activity must be carefully monitored? What geo-political and/or climatic challenges are critical to watch out for, and protect one’s businesses from? How does one power and protect performance?
For most leaders, the bottom line is top of mind.
But then there are the exceptions – leaders who have a different way of measuring performance – prioritising investments of time, energy and budget, and of measuring ROI. ROI is not simply ‘return on investment‘: default metrics: visitor numbers, revenue generation, margin. The measures of success are deeper, farther reaching, and more fundamentally enduring.
It is about ‘return on impact‘ – the difference travellers can make in the places to which they travel.
One such leader is one preferring to lead by example rather than by exhibitionism. Brett Tollman, Chief Executive of The Travel Corporation (TTC), the world’s largest, family owned and lead travel company serving, through its portfolio of almost 30 award winning travel brands, touching 70 countries across the globe with its over 1.9 million guests.
Knowing this officer and gentleman of the global travel community both professionally and personally, I am confident that he will be instinctively shying as the spotlight shifts in his direction. For this, I apologise. Sometimes, however, the brightness of the light must be endured, as what it reveals is vital to sharing lessons in leadership, full-circle leadership.
Why Brett? Because he knows that travel matters. He quietly, yet deeply and passionately, recognises the ability that travel has to uplift the lives of individuals, communities, societies and environments of the places that TTC takes its almost two million travellers per annum. And importantly, he knows that for all of the blessing, learning and enriching travel brings those who travel, a direct responsibility exists for his business, and his millions of travellers, to play a direct part in protecting the people and places kind and caring enough to welcome them into their home.
Why now? Because unbeknownst to so many, millions, this marks the 10th Anniversary of TTC’s not-for-profit foundation, Treadright, that was created by Brett and his family – as the ‘giving back’ half of the circle, which it now does through its 50+ sustainable tourism projects worldwide.
With Brett as the Foundation’s tireless champion, TreadRight grows in strength and impact each and every day, sensitive to the challenges faced by communities and ecosystems across the globe, finding ways to make a difference through TTC’s brands and guests turning their love of travel into appreciation-in-action.
An astute businessman whose life’s work and love is travel, for Brett the creation and enduring commitment to TreadRight as a force for protection, preservation and promotion of people, wildlife and planet is not about strategy. It’s about responsibility and gratitude. It’s as simple as that. Because travel matters.
Why this blog piece dedicated to TreadRight’s 10th Anniversary? To Brett?
Because example matters.
The below video is all one needs to see, hear, feel to understand. And to ‘get’ the need to step up, honouring the blessing at the heart of our travels across the world.
In today’s interconnected world, magnifying the messages and voices of leaders quietly leading by example, is simply the right thing to do. And it is an honour to do so.
Happy 10th Anniversary, TreadRight Foundation. And thank you, millions of times over. x
Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2018