Dif­fer­ent Is As Dif­fer­ent Does

A change of scenery can lead to a change in per­spec­tive – and a whole new out­look

Business Traveler (USA) - - TALKING POINT -

It’s an old cliché that travel broad­ens our hori­zons. To ex­plain why that may be true, here’s a novel con­cept for your con­sid­er­a­tion: Travel is about ‘The Dif­fer­ent.’ The Dif­fer­ent, as in not The Same. Go­ing to a dif­fer­ent place, meet­ing dif­fer­ent peo­ple, try­ing dif­fer­ent things. Break­ing out of our set pat­terns, our es­tab­lished or­bit. It can be a lit­tle scary – or maybe a lot. That all de­pends on our ap­petite for The Dif­fer­ent and how com­fort­able we are with The Same.

On the other hand, travel by def­i­ni­tion puts us at the mercy of The Dif­fer­ent. Some­body in a strange restau­rant in a strange city puts a strange-look­ing dish in front of you and says,“You’ve never had this be­fore? You’ve got to try it!” You’re hun­gry so re­luc­tantly you do, and amaz­ingly you like it. That is an ex­pe­ri­ence of The Dif­fer­ent that you may never have had with­out travel. And once the ice is bro­ken, you find your­self drawn to The Dif­fer­ent be­cause the ex­pe­ri­ence is so be­witch­ing, even when the strangelook­ing dish turns out to be, well, just strange.

For those of us who travel fre­quently, that’s just one ex­am­ple of count­less op­por­tu­ni­ties we have to ex­pe­ri­ence the rich, in­tox­i­cat­ing brew that is The Dif­fer­ent. And we are thank­ful for them all.

One of the joys of a job like mine is that wher­ever I travel, folks in­vite me to be part of ex­pe­ri­ences that are be­yond the or­di­nary. Let’s face it – I’m a‘ be­hind the scenes’ geek. I love be­ing wel­comed through doors that say ‘No Ad­mit­tance’ and into the In­ner Sanc­tum of oth­ers’ work a day worlds. For a cu­rios­ity seeker like me, it’s a chance to peek un­der the hood to see the all the clever and cre­ative ways peo­ple do their work, solve prob­lems and tame the world.

Re­cently I got to tick a cou­ple of new boxes on my bucket list, and both are fea­tured in this month’s is­sue. First, we went ‘be­hind the shiny metal’ to see how Sin­ga­pore Airlines cre­ates new menus for its cus­tomers – a unique in­sight that’s given me a fresh ap­pre­ci­a­tion for much-ma­ligned air­line food. That this un­der­tak­ing gets done at all is amaz­ing; when it gets done well, it’s a mir­a­cle. You’ll find the de­tails in Cui­sine at Al­ti­tude (page 30). My next big ad­ven­ture was be­ing in­vited to the open­ing of Mar­riott’s M Beta, a ho­tel en­vi­ron­ment that’s ac­tu­ally a test­ing lab for the Mar­riott Ho­tels brand. The word ‘ren­o­va­tion’ doesn’t come close to de­scrib­ing the trans­for­ma­tion of the Char­lotte, NC, Mar­riott City Cen­ter prop­erty. There are lots of cool new spa­ces and fea­tures, and what’s more guests can vote in real time for the ones they like best. But more than a hip new ho­tel, it’s a ‘live beta’ ho­tel Mar­riott says it’s us­ing to shape the fu­ture of the brand. Find out more in our One on One in­ter­view with Mar­riott VP Matthew von Ert­felda (page 8). It’s hu­man na­ture, I sup­pose, to want to feel spe­cial, go spe­cial places and take part in things that we think make us spe­cial. But we can’t get to those spe­cial places and things when we’re cling­ing to The Same. As Al­bert Ein­stein put it, in­san­ity is do­ing the same thing over and over again and ex­pect­ing dif­fer­ent re­sults. How­ever once we’re on board the jour­ney bound for The Dif­fer­ent, we dis­cover. And when we dis­cover, we learn, and when we learn we flour­ish. The tru­ism is that travel broad­ens our hori­zons, but the truth is it’s not our hori­zons that are too con­fined – they’re still as big and bold and broad as they ever were. It is rather for us to reach those hori­zons. When we do, we can em­brace The Dif­fer­ent. And maybe then The Dif­fer­ent won’t be so scary any more.

— Dan Booth Ed­i­to­rial Di­rec­tor

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