Letter from the Editor: A Refreshing Week in Montecatini Terme

18 October 2018

I needed the perfect conversation. I needed that singular “aha” moment. I needed an answer to a question I hadn’t quite defined.

At least, these were all the things I thought I needed to clearly visualize the future of adventure travel. Imagine my surprise when I discovered what I actually needed was plogging.

Delegates laughed, talked, networked, and returned to their wellspring source during the Adventure Travel World Summit. © ATTA / Hassen Salum

Participating in the Swedish tradition of picking up litter while jogging (or, in my case, walking) turned out to be the perfect opportunity to reflect on all the things I witnessed, conversations I heard, and information I digested as an observer to this evolving industry. It’s been a fast-track journey, listening and learning about the challenges adventure travel professionals are facing, and it’s been incredibly inspiring hearing about the creative solutions, collaborations, and ideas professionals have for addressing this increasingly complex space.

One key thing stood out to me as I took in all these discussions and deliberations: To forge a way forward, the adventure travel community has taken a momentary step back to reexamine its roots. What is fundamentally important to this community? What priorities need focus? How will the community involve key stakeholders in building more sustainable processes, and what is the best way to achieve traveler buy-in while still keeping client satisfaction and safety at the forefront? And, how can all these committed professionals work together to realize a shared vision?

The past week has been one of deep conversations, complex questions with no easy answers, raw emotions, keen observations, significant details, big-picture realizations, and an abundance of promise and hope. In returning to the source of its motivation and inspiration, I believe the adventure travel industry has big hurdles to overcome in the years ahead, but I also think this community is committed to tackling those problems head on.

Several delegates gathered for a morning of plogging during this year's event.

Speaking to a number of delegates this year, I heard that the event's physical layout forced people to slow down and consider these tough questions. Walking to the Tettuccio Spa, I saw delegates decrease their pace as they passed Duetto d'Acqua, the mesmerizing water sculpture singing in haunting tones as water spilled from its elements. I struck up conversations with delegates taking a breather on a park bench in the sun near Teatro Verdi. I watched spontaneous meetings take place at the tables in Tettuccio Spa on my way to find a quiet workspace in the press room sponsored by Aysén Patagonia - Chile. And when the going got really tough, I saw delegates wait patiently for that strong shot of Italian coffee.

As you take what you’ve learned in Tuscany back to your businesses, staff members, and clients, I encourage you to remain in touch with that passion that led you to adventure travel in the first place. Let it be a guiding light, and don’t forget those moments during the Summit when you returned to your source, your personal wellspring. There will be no easy answers — no single conversation, no “aha” moment. But some day when you least expect it — some morning when you decide to go plogging, perhaps — you’ll see what I saw when I watched the community come together in a powerful way for a single week in Montecatini Terme.

Thank you for joining me on such a refreshing adventure.

Summit Daily Editor