The Travel Channel’s Samantha Brown Visits the Maine Governor’s Conference on Tourism
by Nancy Dorrans
“A Fresh Start, a new beginning… we are all on this journey to understand ourselves to be better than we thought, for our community, our friends, for our family and nothing gives us that opportunity like travel!”
That is what Samantha Brown, world traveler and TV Host on the Travel Channel said recently at the Maine Governor’s Conference on Tourism, held at Sunday River, March 21st through 22nd. She delivered an inspiring speech on how she gets “authentic” when traveling.
Brown said when she arrives anywhere, before she and her crew set up to film a story, she likes to take a walk and spend a few hours or the day before, connecting with the locals, chatting at the markets, parks and cafes to breath in the authenticity of a destination. Personally, she’s less interested in the must sees, the top attractions, museums and monuments.
When you’re in the travel industry it is tough to get beyond the typical questions: “What are the top 5 things to do, what should I definitely see? What’s a must see?”
In the beginning she saw it like that but now Brown says she has noticed a huge change in how Americans are traveling.
“I really do see it going from visiting to belonging. A lot of that is because of the Internet, we have access (to all this) information, to so much information that it is so overwhelming to plan a vacation. “
The internet has opened the world to us, and made it almost impossible to plan travel because of all the information available.
“How is it that I’ve spent 10 hours planning a vacation and I’m even less confident about what I want to do? You’ve got user generated websites that give you the opinions of millions of people around the world…it’s just too much information! “ says Brown.
She believes that the combination of what’s happening with the internet and the culture of constant texting has really isolated us from people.
“We aren’t looking people in the eye, saying; How are you? What are you doing,” and this has created a hunger, a desire for an authentic connection when traveling.
“Now when American’s are traveling, that is what they want. They truly do want a connection because they’re not getting that at home. So they really want their travels to count.”
We Americans are so busy. Time off is a luxury. On average, Americans leave 3 vacation days on the books every year. We don’t get or take our vacation time in America like Europeans — who on average have 4-6 paid vacation weeks every year.
I’m a travel counselor. It is my business to make sure my clients take their vacations and that they make every moment of their precious vacation count, whatever that means to them. It is different for every person which is what makes my work so interesting.
I’ve been told by experts in business to “narrow my brand,” specialize in something specific., but my brand is my service! It is a broad range and I’m investing my time and energy into delivering first-class service… from small group adventures to specialized Independent travel.
My brand may be broad, but with every adventure I strive to lead my clients to an authentic experience, safely out of their comfort zone and into an appreciation of another culture, the landscape, traditions, food, music and the people.
My clients are out there. Some are skiing across glaciers in the French Alps, wandering through New York City neighborhoods, hiking the mountains of Patagonia, soaking in the Blue Lagoon, getting married on a beach in Mexico… drinking coffee in Old Quebec.
In May I’ll be out there too, with half a dozen friends, exploring many corners of South Africa… it could be the best place I’ve ever seen.
When asked “what is the best place you’ve ever seen,” Samantha Brown replied, “It is such an emotional response… where your favorite place is…one of the best places I’ve ever been is Cambodia because it is very far, and just because of the people…”
There is a need to have something more meaningful with your travels. Strive for the authentic.
Nancy Dorrans is a West Ender and an independent travel agent at Adventure Marketplace.