20 years is a very long time. 20 years pass in an instant. I feel both emotions as I commemorate the 20th anniversary of my purchase of Hanns Ebensten Travel (later HE Travel), and as we gleefully put the year 2020 into the rearview mirror.
My tenure as the owner of the oldest LGBTQA+ travel company began shortly before the events of 9/11 upended all assumptions about personal and national security. A few years later came the challenge of the 2008 financial crash that upended all assumptions about financial security. Most recently the scourge of COVID-19 has upended all assumptions about health security.
But through it all, I have been able to keep my own sense of hope and optimism alive with the help of mentors, friends, a supportive family, and our loyal travelers. Whatever the political, financial, and medical winds flowing around us, I have tried to keep my focus on using travel to lower the barriers between people. Or as I wrote about last month, creating Bridges across even a few of the many chasms that seem to divide us. When viewed from a Bridge, those chasms can exude beauty in their infinite variations.
I am inspired to keep going during times of crisis by looking for innovations that arise from that crisis. Some innovations mitigate the effects of the crisis. However, even more interesting is seeing how people use the crisis to create new opportunities for the people around them.
One of my favorite innovations this time is close to home! We are creating the Founders Circle to stay in touch with our clients and friends, even when we are all at home. When travel stopped last year, our CEO, Zachary Moses, had to be furloughed. (You may remember his insightful monthly letters in this space!) He and our tour director and nationally syndicated radio host Cary Harrison looked for ways to virtually share their passion for travel with our clients and initiated this new program for HE Travel clients.
The first members-only Founders Circle activity will be hosted by Zach and Cary on Valentine’s Day, February 14. Through Cary’s VIP Webinars, they will have a live discussion with Egyptologist Essam Abd-Elaziz, who has led our Nile in Style tour of Egypt for the past 25 years. They plan to offer monthly curated travel discussions, online virtual Sunday brunches, along with special treats such as a Valentine harpsichord recital that will follow Essam’s presentation.
We have lots of other ideas to enhance the value of the Founders Circle which we will roll out soon. For more information about the Founders Circle and the Valentine’s Day event, click here.