After boarding my Thai Airways flight to Bangkok in early January, I was pleased to see many other American road warriors. I thought, “Great! These folks are back on the international business beat.” I was proud to be part of this resurgence, and relieved that others saw the importance of their continued international travel as much as I did. We all settled into our business-class seats for our long journey halfway around the world to conduct business as usual.
I have made this exhaustive trip each January since 1996. I seriously questioned if this year's trip should be made in light of the uncertainty that we have all dealt with during recent months. But my annual visit to our Asia/Pacific clients and sales team was too important to miss. We had to review activities of the past year and structure new programs for the year to come. To put it simply, we had to meet.
As I traveled around Asia for 12 meeting-packed days, I was touched by the warm welcome I received. Advertisers were hopeful and optimistic that U.S. groups would not be easily deterred. I could only assure them that Americans are resilient and will not be kept down for long.
I can honestly say that I have never felt safer and that the service, as always in this part of the world, could not have been more efficient or stylish. Five-star hotels welcome international meetings and events and offer unbelievable value. High-tech airports make travel a pleasure in Singapore, Malaysia, and Hong Kong, and new airport projects are planned in the region, including Thailand and Korea. Our friends in the Muslim countries (Indonesia and Malaysia) offered warm smiles and welcoming hugs. So many concerned touches and saddened eyes told the story that the world is behind the United States. I proudly wore an American flag pin on my lapel, and everyone wanted one. I came home with a feeling of renewed energy and excitement for our industry and for our world.
From South Africa to Europe, Latin America, and Canada, there has never been a better time to look into your international options. Value, quality, superior service, and safety await your groups. If you are not already back in the international planning mode, come on back soon!