There is encouragement and gratitude born when looking back on a life shift to see the pieces that created the first steps. Sometimes it is one large event that forces a redirection and other times it is a subtle series of events that can often be overlooked when viewed on their own.
Over the past few months the topic of generosity was pervasive in everyone I met, everything I heard and everywhere I went. It forced me to listen. Sometimes it was little things like a neighbor offering to watch my son if I ever needed to run an errand and the acknowledgment of how that made me feel. I felt community in that moment. Other times it was the not so subtle words that were spoken such as, "Generosity leads to community and greed to isolation." These words were spoken during a talk at the church I attend and they were etched into my mind from the moment they reached my ears. Collectively the seeds of the ideas of generosity and community that were planted one by one eventually grew into an obvious singular action for me to take.
As the owner of a luxury travel concierge business, I have the pleasure of working with others to plan custom vacations. I cannot adequately describe the excitement that I feel in getting to know my clients in order to provide a vacation that fulfills and exceeds their purposes for traveling. I love that with each border crossed, the world gets a bit more personal and perhaps better understood. I love the way eyes sparkle and voices sing with stories of adventures had and people met and luxuries felt. I love that community is built across these borders when the traveler and those in the community interact in authentic ways with one another.
There are times when one ventures to a new destination for the simple purpose of relaxing on a beautiful beach at a secluded resort while eating delicious food and experiencing luxury. This purpose in itself is beneficial as the traveler relaxes and experiences the beauty of the world, which in turn provides him or her with a renewed energy. We likely all know that we need to take care of ourselves in order to have something to give to others. This is necessary and justifiable. However, travel can also have benefits that extend beyond the immediate circle of influence of the traveler. The money that the traveler brings into the country that he or she visits helps the economy in obvious ways, but what if the money went further? What if by traveling, footprints of generosity were made that increased the sense of community felt between the traveler and those who live in the community that he or she traveled to?
There is a give back movement happening in business. Perhaps one of the most well known is the Toms Shoes one for one model in which you buy a pair of shoes and another is given to someone in need. There are now countless others and this, I have to say, is a movement I want to be part of. This is a movement that I hope to see grow in the travel industry. A partnership between traveler, agent, travel suppliers and charity work is one that can continue to grow and expand.
As I have been in the process of restructuring my business, I have taken a long look at what I want it to all be about. What I want it to accomplish is simple. It is my ultimate desire to provide a product that I believe in. I believe in the power of travel, the power of community, the power of gratitude and the power of generosity. They belong together and the result seems obvious to me now.
In answering the question of how to leave generous footprints, I find an answer in donating a percentage of the commission earned from each client to charity work being done in the country or city that they visit. The client has the choice of which charity it goes to or we can choose for them. Donating may be but a tiny piece to the greater puzzle of how to best deal with needs in this world, but it is a way in which my clients and my company can help. Perhaps knowing that a donation occurs on their behalf will further the connectedness that the traveler feels to the community they visit. Perhaps it will encourage a longer lasting relationship as well if the traveler researches charity work in the area and becomes educated on what is happening. It will at least hopefully leave the traveler a bit more satisfied that their vacation helped others beyond themselves.
My world is one of luxury travel planning. Whatever yours is, perhaps you can find a way to leave footprints of generosity?