I was on a plane the other day and, across the aisle, was a family with one of the tiniest babies I’ve ever seen on a flight. The little girl’s parents told me that she was just over three months old and, of course, this was her first time on an airplane. I’m happy to report that she did just great — a natural-born traveler.
As I read this issue’s cover story, “Cruise Ships of the Future” (page 16), I thought about this little girl. The changes she is going to witness in the travel industry will be mind-boggling — rivaling the beginning of the Jet Age and everything else before it. Whether it’s the birth of space travel, changes to our natural environment, technological innovations, population shifts or political upheavals, the travel industry can expect nothing but interesting times ahead.
In some ways, however, the more things change, the more they stay the same. While cruise lines continue to come up with incredibly exciting innovations on their ships, the emphasis is now on the onboard experience for passengers. As one executive says in the story, the current focus is on “content rather than real estate.” It’s about what you do with the tools at hand in order to improve the guest’s vacation. I’m sure that even hundreds of years from now — regardless of the type of vacation and the destination — there will still be experts with the same goal: to improve the experience for the guest, to ensure it is memorable and to do whatever is possible so that it lives up to expectations.
As long as this is the mission, there will also be travel consultants to assist people with this goal. In fact, the last few decades have shown that the more complicated the world gets, the more valuable true expertise becomes as people search for guidance. This will certainly be the case in the cruise industry, as each new ship strives to outdo the one before it with ever more interesting bells and whistles, leaving consumers with a dizzying array of options to sort out.
So, even as the world around you seems to change dramatically on a daily basis, your goal should be timeless: Use your skills to enrich the lives of the next generation of travelers through the experience of travel. You can be sure that this mission at least will never be out of date.