The YouLi team just came back from a travel networking event organized by the Transformational Travel Council (TTC), “a coalition of businesses & organizations who all share the same mission and goal to make travel more ethical, emotional, equitable, and ecological.” Here is what we have learned.
In early February, 2020, the TTC hosted a tech-free full immersion networking event in the mountains of the Pacific North-West. For a year, the organization has mentored community members from around the world through creating experiences that “transform how we live our lives, how we live our lives with others, and how we live on our planet”.
About 50 business leaders of sustainable tourism have gathered for a first in its format and yet to become traditional Gathering. Among the attendees are:
- Tour operators, travel agencies and experience designers from all over the US, as well as Canada, Japan, Ecuador and India
- Personal coaches and business consultants
- Destination managers and National Tourism Board representatives
- Research consultants, data analysts and marketing professionals
- Travel tech startups and fare insurance creators
Among the well known names on the guest list are Joseph Pine, Co-author of The Experience Economy, speaking on how the macro-trends affect the travel market. An inspirational speaker, Natalia Cohen shared her story of rowing over the Atlantic ocean. Mike Graziano, The Youngest Canadian To Visit Every Country In The World, talked about the internal conflict of the journey. Jorge Pérez of Tierra Del Volcan in Ecuador led the discussion around cultivating Transformational Experiences in the industry.
The discussions formed around the strategic development of the Transformational Travel movement:
- How to measure transformational travel on individual, business, and macroeconomic level
- How transformational travel relates to the terms of sustainable, conscious, and responsible travel, adventure travel, wellness, spiritual, educational, mindful travel.
- Who are the transformational travelers and how to reach out to them.
- What creates greater opportunities for a personal or group transformation to happen
- What questions to ask when planning responsible and transformative trip
- How to collaborate with the local communities with positive impact on both sides
- What each of us can contribute to creating an opportunity for a transformational experience
- What does the Transformational Travel Marketplace look like?
The conversation stayed grounded in the reality of modern economy and as in most business meetings, real follow-ups will define the action. Yet something else has happened too in this Cascade mountains. We really heard each other. We declared openly, loudly with the strength of a pack: “United we stand, divided we fall.” As a community, we have committed to the path of “ creating deep, personal stretching and growth that makes new lifestyle choices natural.” With genuine hosting of the TTC leadership we opened a container for our personal transformations to ripple into all corners of the world.
“ I believe the transformational travel philosophy is catalytic to personal growth and human development, ultimately bringing about peace, unity, love, equality and a more ethical, empathetic, and ecological society. “ – Jake Haupert, The TTC/Explorer-X/Roam Beyond
The event was announced to be tech-free – no phones, no laptops (with the exception of emergencies). It started with an opening ceremony with the dedication to the original guardians of the land. Jake Haupert, Co-Founder of The Transformational Travel Council, and Kurt Kutay, a recognized industry pioneer in adventure travel and ecotourism, the founding President and CEO of Wildland Adventures, and a board member of the Transformational Travel Council has led the introductions which ended in a howling wave roaring through the crowd.
This was a birth of a new type of business events, a fully involved active participation and vulnerable expression aimed to open a possibility for inner transformation as a new way to engage with the self and others in the world. Unlike commonly practiced networking events, there were no formal presentations. Those were replaced with the discussion circles. Sales speeches got replaced by emotional story-telling. We spoke about what mattered to each one of us and why, how we got to this place of passionately caring for the impact we want to make on our environment, community, and humanity overall.
A number of exercises we used in this work could helpful for all meetings, business or otherwise:
- Morning gratitude ritual of opening the heart
- Authentic relating with extended eye contact and touch
- Love and kindness meditation
- Active listening exercises
- Sound bath with Yoga Nidra texts and practices of Tonglen
Are the tech-free immersive group trips really the future of the transformational Travel? I can tell you this! Never have I imagined a business meeting where a workshop ends with an improvised polar plunge in a nearby river; where a poem is read in honor of the agenda, and a cacao ceremony led to a song co-written and performed by all the participants! Now we are on to our homes, to create the ripple effects of what we call Transformational Travel. In the words of Jennifer Spatz, the founder and CEO of the Global Family Travels, lets “build cultural bridges and foster citizens of tomorrow”. After all, it is what happens next that matters the most.
May your next trip be a transformational journey!
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