My phone rings. A new client is calling to discuss the details of an adventurous vacation he‘s considering. I’ve jotted down some preliminary information and the caller is still speaking when my mind begins to wander. Many would think of this as a problem. I see it differently. It’s an asset to me! Asset? What asset?–An active imagination.
Since my days as an anthropology student I’ve been fascinated by the way nature and culture influence, interact with, and change one another. Nature provides the environmental context in which societies and individuals develop, with resources and constraints that inspire and provoke human creativity.
As humans, we leave our mark on the environment, deliberately or not, with nearly every action we take. In my first career, archaeology, we worked with the material evidence of thousands of years of humanity. What intrigued me most in this field was the opportunity to observe the creative power of the human imagination.
We rely upon and modify the natural resources of our surroundings in specific ways that are manifestations of our ideas. Anything a person deliberately creates must first exist in the imagination of its maker. Holding a bird bone whistle or an obsidian spear point or finding figures etched in bedrock, I felt I was given a glimpse into the mind of a person who lived in the ancient past.
Those experiences have had considerable influence on my perspective as a travel consultant. I firmly believe the best vacations begin in the traveler’s imagination.
The more clearly I am able to “see” the vacation experience a client envisions, the better I can match that vision with the ideal destination, lodging and activities. It’s such a pleasure to get the details just right.
I believe that if we claim to provide “dream vacations” or promise to make travel dreams come true, we must make sure we’ve clearly heard and are responding to the actual dream of the traveler in front of us. Only then can we apply our destination and product knowledge in the most useful, personalized way.
Just as people have always made creative use of the available materials and natural features of their surroundings, an insightful travel consultant knows how to access the resources needed to create an extraordinary, ideal vacation experience for every client. For me, it all starts with listening well, and then drawing deeply upon that amazing creative force we all share . . . imagination.
Susan Wilcox, owner of Tortoise & Hare Travel, creates experiential vacations for adventurous travelers, focusing on natural and cultural world heritage destinations.