Sunday, August 17, 2014

Aug 16 (Day 228) - Grouse hunt continues; Talks about the travel industry.

Hey everyone. As Dorian mentioned in his blog last night, he is camping tonight so he won't have access to the internet. He's in Conconully, WA with a friend, hoping to find yet another grouse to check off his list. I've only spoken with him for a couple minutes today before he completely lost cell service, so I really have no idea if today was successful or not. Think happy thoughts (can you tell I just got done watching "Hook" with my nieces?).

As for me, I have moved on from the South and I am now back in Los Angeles (my hometown) with my family. I'm not sure how long I'll stay here, but I'll admit that it is really nice to be home and stationary, even if only temporarily. I am so grateful that my family and family friends have been so wonderful in opening up their homes to me. It has been 10 years since I've spent any significant amount of time back at home, so it will be nice to be here and focus on the people in my life who make up my core. Allow me to introduce you to the zany and lovable people I call family:

My siblings and extended siblings doing a family photoshoot
....Zoolander poses, of course

My mama and me

...she has a very interesting way to bird watch!

Little me with my dad

I also have 3 wonderful nieces and 2 fantastic nephews, so my heart is definitely full at the moment. My family has always been so supportive of my wandering and traveling ways, so much so that my oldest niece literally thought I lived on a plane when she was younger (she would wave to any planes she saw in the sky and say "HI SONY!"). To be fair, I was a flight attendant for several years so she was very accustomed to picking me up at the airport in an airline uniform. 

Since I've touched on the subject, perhaps this is a good time to talk about what it is I do for a living. For about 10 years I have worked in travel; first as a flight attendant and now in corporate travel. Today, I work as part of the team that manages a Global Travel Program for a very large IT consulting corporation and my job specifically focuses on the travel we do in the Americas. What does that mean, exactly? Well, I'm the person who negotiates rates with our travel vendors (hotel, car and air) and I help manage travel policies and procedures for our American offices (US, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Costa Rica, etc). I sort of stumbled into this industry and in many ways I feel as though I've won the job lottery. While every day isn't kittens and rainbows, I can honestly say that on most days I love waking up to do what I do. 

Picture from my flight attendant days with one 
of my dearest friends.

Undoubtably some of you are probably thinking that what I do for a living is completely counter productive to what Dorian's year is all about. I suppose it is, in a lot of ways. While he's aiming for zero carbon footprint in regards to how he travels, I'm helping people (and myself) get to as many places around the world as safely and cheaply as possible using all means of travel. If my company stops traveling, my job essentially becomes extinct. So yes, all forms of travel are important to what I do. That said, what I think people underestimate is the amount of environmental progress that can be made in an industry like this... Hear me out. As they saying goes, money talks. In the US alone, business travel spend is expected to top $290 billion in 2014. That's a lot of dough. And if you're being realistic, this number is going to only increase as more and more corporations become more globalized. As you can imagine, with this kind of spend comes a lot of buying power. Right now the growing trend in corporate travel is environmental responsibility and sustainaiblity  As someone who feels very strongly about environmental issues, this is a trend I am very happy to see and one that I'm eager to support.  People on my side of the business carry a lot of leverage when it comes to how travel suppliers run their businesses. Meaning, as corporations with a lot of travel spend push for more carbon friendly travel, suppliers have to find a way to respond to this demand, lest they be left out of that $290 billion pie. I don't want to give you the impression that people in my position are travel gods who can manipulate every aspect of travel, but we can have a pretty significant influence. Honestly, I've made business decisions on which vendors to support based on their environmental practices. For example, I've made decisions on which hotels to add to the program based on recycling programs. I've placed meetings in properties that minimize waste. I've personally chosen to drive eco-friendly vehicles whenever I rent and I support those brands that are expanding this type of fleet. Ok, yes, I'll admit that air travel is still one of the biggest carbon sinners out there, but even in this industry there has been significant pressure to consider and improve sustainability. Curious to know how? You can read this article: How Some Airlines Are Striving toward Sustainability

Look, I know some of you might still be scratching your heads and wondering how I could possibly think that what I do for a living is anything but harmful to the environment. While I wish we could all commute by bike and foot alone, it's just not realistic in todays world. So, I have chosen to work in an industry that makes me personally happy and find ways within that world to push for what I value. Truthfully, I really think that we all can make a similar commitment within our own little employment worlds which will have larger impacts on our overall corporate culture. Think about the practices within your own corporation. Could you start a recycling program? Could you initiate a carpooling group? Could you push to internally support those vendors that hold to your environmental values? Paying attention to how you do business and finding ways to push for more sustainable habits can and will have an impact.

My two cents, of course. :)

1 comment:

  1. Jobs are necessities. Some may have the luxury to choose a profession or a career based on environmental factors. Most probably will not. Can you make industry-wide changes? Maybe, and major "props" for trying. Everyone, however, can make individual and daily choices to help the environment. I love how your thoughts at a macro level coincide with many micro-level thoughts that Dorian has made public through this blog.