Courier July Courier - Page 58

AFTERWORDS A lesson in relationships A Tourism Cares scholarship student learned from mentors and moments at her first Travel Exchange BY EMILY AYSCUE NTA ONLINE DESCRIBED Travel Exchange ’17 in St. Louis as a “chance for members to meet the travel world under one roof … and make lifelong friends while you’re at it.” I knew I achieved this potential after seeing “relationships” noted five separate times in my conference notes. Social capital is the currency of our industry, and while shadowing my mentors at the event, I witnessed many appointments where time was spent sharing family photos and catching up on personal developments. Even appointments between new acquaintances were electric through the conduit of a love for travel and an altruistic desire to help one another succeed. These authentic bonds inspired me to carry that industry tradition forward wherever my career path takes me. My time with two mentors was invaluable. Sitting with Lisa Itel at the Travel Oregon booth exposed me not only to progressive programs such as Travel Oregon Forever, but also to the synergy between the state travel office and the other Oregon destinations. My second mentor was Melody Johnson, whose entrepreneurial journey includes owning and operating an inn on Mt. Hood and, now, running Falcon’s Crest. As a student, I read and write about entrepreneurs as the engine of innovation in tourism, but at Travel Exchange I had the opportunity to spend time with a boots-on-the-ground entrepreneur. What struck me about Melody was her upbeat attitude, even when it was close to quitting time. Noticing her full appointment book, I commented on how tired she must be. She informed me “there is no time to be tired” and then invited me for some ice cream from the Oregon booth. Emily Ayscue with, at left, mentor Melody Johnson and, at right, fellow Tourism Cares scholar E’Lisha Fogle. In the bubble of academia at the University of Georgia, I sometimes feel disconnected from the industry that I love and study because I do not get to interact with the people who actually make it all work. Because of my mentoring opportunities, though, I have recommitted myself to remaining relevant to our industry by building relationships with those at every level of operations. It was exciting to develop a friendship with E’Lisha Fogle, a fellow Tourism Cares scholar who also is working towards a sustainable tourism doctorate. And the diversity of career goals and experiences of the other 15 Tourism Cares scholars was impressive. From concert management to finance for cruise lines and education abroad, it seemed we covered every aspect of the industry. Along with a shared passion to travel and to provide hospitality to others on the move, we also have an inherent relationship with the communities that host us. These communities provide infrastructure, culture and space for tourism to succeed. The Tourism Cares workshop “Engaging Clients in Giving and Meaning” featured a diverse panel of industry stakeholders whose corporate social responsibility initiatives meet the needs of communities and reflect the values of the companies: • Tara Hippensteel explained how Hard Rock Café created their CSR groove in the industry with Hard Rock Heals, a charity that supports music-centric health and wellness programs and funds scholarships around the world. • Kate Desvenain told us that Academic Travel Abroad’s Fund for Education Abroad provides grants and scholarships to American students, enabling them to engage in high-quality education programs overseas. • Nish Patel explained that, in honor of the U.S. National Park Service centennial last year, Mayflower Tours donated $5 for each person they took through a park to Tourism Cares for that organization’s restoration projects within the parks. • And Lisa Itel described the Travel Oregon Forever fund, in which business owners join together to support tourism projects all across the state. All of the relationships we forge in this industry provide us with social capital to accomplish our common goal, which was nicely summarized by Bruce Beckham, former executive director of Tourism Cares: “In travel and tourism you make people’s dreams come true.” Through our commitment to authentic bonds and progressive development pathways, I believe that we can continue fulfilling dreams for many years to come. Emily Ayscue attended Travel Exchange ’17 as a scholarship recipient in the Bruce Beckham Scholarship Fund/NTA Mentoring Program. This essay has been edited for length. 56 July 2017