For those of us who work everyday to inspire people to discover the world around them, the greatest destinations can sometimes become a series of business plan strategies, marketing images, media exposure, and bookings targets. Our focus often shifts to the scorecard – to be filled by the number of guests taken to the destination, not the unforgettable sensation that our guests feel the first time they see an iconic place. I recently had an invaluable reminder of the sensation of first time travel, when a couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of experiencing Turkey for the first time (yes, this surprised me as well).
I arrived in Istanbul with a head ready for business meetings, but found myself awestruck, absolutely wonderstruck, by the excitement in my heart. Looking around me, the overwhelming wonder of all that I was seeing, hearing, sensing for the first time, had me no longer thinking about my travel business commitments in Turkey, but feeling this destination’s magic as a traveller. It was simply remarkable, and it was a ‘first moment’ experience I do not ever want to forget.
As my few days in Turkey unfolded, and I visited some of the most unique places I have ever had the great fortune to see, it reminded me how our guests must feel. Similar to ourselves who work in the travel industry our clients arrive on their holiday, into a new place, ready to get down to business – exploring specific iconic sites, strolling the markets and savouring the regional delicacies, uncovering local haunts and meeting new friends as each day reveals an even greater understanding and emotional connection to the destination. The excitement of checking off highlights on their travel bucket lists suddenly is brought to a halt and they are simply awed by the magic of the first moment of being where they are, after dreaming of this place for so long. We have all seen it happen, and recently I felt this powerful sense of wonder again.
Being there in Istanbul, immersed in the rich, deeply-rooted history of the city that has stood tall as the capital of three empires, admiring its majestic beauty, enjoying its delicious food – I found every single element of this truly captivating. But what was most penetrating for me, what I took with me that has been the most evocative, was its people – the voices, the smiles, the buzz, the pure beauty of the moment – these are the vital components that turn points on a map into places of magic. These are the ingredients that we need to ensure never ever fall by the wayside when we create those unforgettable holiday memories with Trafalgar. After all, aren’t these ingredients why we all came into this great industry in the first place?