In an interview on the television show “60 Minutes” about her attendance at February’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Queen Rania al-Abdullah of Jordan talked about the value of hallway chats and hanging out in the cafeteria listening to the conversations around her. The value, she said, comes from having diverse and thoughtful attendees “all together in one destination, far away from anything else.”
For the past 18 months the meetings industry has focused a lot of attention on the benefits of being “all together in one destination,” the value of getting face to face. But when I heard the Queen’s comment, it dawned on me that being “away” is as important as being “together.”
Sometimes, the farther away the better. Away from the office, away from home, away from the things you see and do every day, half of them on autopilot.
A wise man said, “Changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes, nothing remains quite the same.” OK, it was island-life icon Jimmy Buffett. But it doesn’t ring any less true coming from a guy in a Hawaiian print shirt! (Who, by the way, is also a savvy businessman—he recently partnered with the Miami Dolphins NFL team to rename their home field Landshark Stadium after his own beer brand.)
Changes in location bring changes in perspective that can bring returns on your meeting investment that you never saw coming. And international travel pushes the concept to the next level. When participants leave their home country and make their way in a new culture, they are inevitably led to think differently. And whether it’s for an incentive trip, an association convention, a, or required training, international travel is always motivating.
The financial chaos of 2009 led many organizations to stop traveling—especially abroad. Now the United States is regaining its financial footing, and organizations are seeing the effects of having grounded their people. They are recognizing the reality of what recent research has shown: Travel is an investment in innovation, customer acquisition and retention, employee satisfaction, andgrowth.
On these pages we offer expert advice to help you plan international programs that are smart investments in your employees, your members, your organization—and yourself!