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Busman’s Holiday?

I was just thinking ahead to my next trip – the annual meeting of Travel Alliance Partners – and thinking how much fun it is going to be. Now don’t misunderstand me: this meeting will involve at least two ten-hour days of sitting behind closed doors with my 37 partners discussing “corporate” issues. Yawn, you might say. But when the day’s decisions are done, we will have the opportunity to visit the area’s best attractions, perhaps hear live entertainment, savor the cuisine, and sip local wines.

Our travel industry hosts, in this case Spokane, know that by creating a pleasurable experience for us, we will not only remember them fondly, but make use of all that we have learned and experienced when planning our next tour to the area.

There is no question that people in the travel business know how to have fun. Maybe it’s because that’s our business: to make sure our clients have a great experience when traveling with us. (One of my colleagues even lists his title as “Director of Fun”. I LOVE it!) I’m always looking for unique experiences, great places to dine or explore, and little-known gems which will add up to a memorable vacation.

Whether on scouting or FAM trips, tourism marketplaces, or business meetings like my trip to Spokane, I am able to experience what any given place has to offer, learn what will enhance an itinerary and equally important, what will not.

There is a down-side to all this fun, of course. I often cringe when someone at home urges me to “have a great vacation” when I am departing on a tour. I spend the majority of my time on the road making sure my guests are comfortable, happy and well-fed, in addition to experiencing new things which will ultimately enrich their lives. It’s hard work, not a vacation. But if I’m doing my job right, they won’t notice, and my obvious pleasure at sharing wonderful experiences with my passengers will be the memory they take home with them.

So I welcome the opportunity to experience Spokane, even when it comes with many hours of meetings, because I know it will make me a better tour planner and enhance the vacation experiences for my guests.

Shebby Lee is a historian, writer and tour operator specializing in the historic and cultural heritage of the Great American West. Her early training was in the theatre and she served a tour of duty as an entertainer with the USO. She is also an Admiral in the Nebraska Navy.

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