Hillary Clinton says Travel Changes Minds
by Nancy Dorrans
If travel can change your life can it also change your mind? That’s what Hillary Clinton said in a speech she gave several years ago at American Society of Travel Agents’ Global Convention in Miami in 2013, while serving as Secretary of State.
During her term as Secretary of State, Clinton visited 112 countries, logged more than one million miles and spent a total of 2,000 hours in the air, making her at the time, “America’s most frequent traveler.”
Clinton told the assembled travel agent and travel industry professionals that day that she has a “deep appreciation for the magic you [travel agents] work each and every day.”
She added, “Thanks to a terrific travel agent, my travel goes very smoothly,” and joked that her agent even tried to get her “frequent flier miles for all those Air Force flights.”
She said of travel agents, “You help Americans follow their dreams…You are in the travel business but also in the dream business.”
Hearing this makes me proud to be an independent travel agent. Even in the age of the internet, I’m helping my clients fulfill their dreams and it feels good.
When asked what makes a good travel agent, Clinton said, “We have had the same travel agent for many years now. [We appreciate] immediate responsiveness and creativity — somebody who is really there for you.
Nothing substitutes for that kind of personal attention… It’s music to my ears — talking to people who know more about travel than I do.”
Comparing online travel sites versus working directly with a local travel agent, there’s a real opportunity for travel agency business growth through personalized service.
“I may be wrong about this, but I think that online searching is going to get really old. There is no way to verify what you’re finding on the internet. The pictures don’t look like what [you think you’re] getting. I could spend hours on my computer, and there’s no way that I can know that I’m getting what I’m buying.” Despite that, “there doesn’t seem to be a lot of respect for the industry,” Clinton said.
Travel does have the power change minds and there is a strong relationship between democracy and travel. Clinton made a clear endorsement for traveling the world in order to make in-person connections that make a difference. She said she has witnessed this power of travel on the world’s political and global stage.
For example, “I am convinced that travel helped change the minds of the military dictatorship of Burma. Myanmar’s generals had started traveling to other countries and seeing how other governments work, and the country is now transitioning to a representative government.”
I’m with Hillary. The opportunities to travel have certainly broadened and changed my mind. Being able to travel has enriched my life, introduced me to new cultures, people, food, music, traditions, landscapes, religions… Travel allows us the opportunity to learn and change our opinions, thus many of us become more welcoming and accepting of people that are different… well some of us anyway.
Maybe Hillary could use another travel agent? Wouldn’t that be exciting, but it seems she is in good hands.
On the other hand, what if I had the opportunity to be Donald Trump’s travel agent? Where would I send him that might help him change his mind, replace his ego, fear and hate with compassion? Is it possible? I just don’t know.
Maybe Trump can be the first man on Mars? How close is NASA, Russia or any other country to making a manned trip to Mars a reality? I’ll have to do some research on how to book that ticket.
Mark Twain wrote, “travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.”
What would he say about the Donald?
Nancy Dorrans is a West Ender and an independent travel agent at Adventure Marketplace.