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Tips For Business Travel: Have Fun Up In The Air?
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Tips For Business Travel: Have Fun Up In The Air? - Executive Leadership Articles

Tips For Business Travel: Have Fun Up In The Air?

Executive Leadership Articles

Tips For Business Travel: Have Fun Up In The Air?

Bill Young travels for business. A lot. He’s a pilot. Until recently, he did his job in obscurity, just like you and me, and took advantage of the travel aspect of his work by pursuing his photography hobby. In addition to a website and Instagram account highlighting his best photos, he had a second Instagram account with perhaps the most niche-like of themes: hotel carpeting.

“I travel for a living. Stay in a lot of hotels. See a lot of carpet,” reads the bio on this second account (@myhotelcarpet on Instagram; be careful because there are at least a couple of fake copycats). Young says he noticed during his many hotel stays that the carpeting tends to be bizarre, the sort nobody would ever put in their homes, and the strange, apparently one-of-a-kind designs are as weird in upper-tier hotels as anywhere.

On November 25, Young’s IG photo collection had 125 followers when his daughter Jill tweeted a screen shot of Bill’s stream, with a caption reading, “All I want for Christmas is for my Dad’s hotel carpet Instagram to go viral. Please make this happen.”

Sixteen days later, Bill has 162,000 followers, plus coverage in all kinds of mainstream and non-mainstream press. Marriott Rewards reached out on Twitter: “Hi Bill and Jill! Love that you're hotel carpet aficionados. Will you collaborate with us on a design for a new hotel? We’d roll out the red carpet for you here at HQ.”

The Bill Young saga, clearly a story still unfolding, is a great reminder of how social media is supposed to be fun, and how maybe other areas of our lives could use a bit of fun as well. We obviously travel for work, and work is serious stuff, but does every minute of a business trip need to be serious? What seems to resonate with 622,000 fans is Young’s sincerity and realness. The IG account was never a marketing strategy, and Young’s weird collection was born simply out of a sense of fun.

In the 2009 Oscar-nominated film Up in the Air, George Clooney plays a professional firer, flying across country most days of the year to pass along the bad news that people’s positions have been terminated. For the most part, he enjoys the solitude of life in the air, but a tryst with a fellow traveler and an unexpected task from a soon-to-be-wed sister break through some of the chill. Clooney carries around a nearly life-sized cutout of the bride and groom, posing for photos with it in front of distinct geographical landmarks (mostly airports). He might be reluctant to admit it, but while he doesn’t understand the motivation behind the task, he seems to enjoy himself. Enough, at least, to bring his new friend with him to the wedding, with his collection of photos.

It’s a grueling life, the life of a road warrior, and most of us just want to get back to our families and beds. But life in hotels and airports, in taxis and restaurants, in cities around the world affords certain perspectives and experiences that might be fascinating to others. If Bill Young’s Instagram account had never gone viral, he’d probably still be happily adding to his collection of weird hotel carpets as a fun, interesting diversion. George Clooney’s character doesn’t find himself necessarily in a better place by movie’s end, but for many, the takeaway is that some kind of meaningful connection, no matter what one’s circumstances, is necessary for meaningful growth. Either way, are you gaining personal meaning from your experience?

A Google search for “lessons learned from travel” yields several hits from business travelers, solo travelers, and econo-travelers. Most results take the form of lists, like “20 Lessons I Learned While Traveling on a Shoestring Budget,” and lean toward the Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten philosophizing, but there are some good ideas there, and they point again to the idea that beyond the necessary tasks at hand, travel is a life-shaping experience. And life is supposed to be fun.


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Tips For Business Travel: Have Fun Up In The Air? - Executive Leadership Articles

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