Grab the chance to do new things, but don’t take offers for granted, says Giles Hawke, chief executive of Cosmos Tours and Avalon Waterways

I recently had the great privilege of being invited on a corporate ski trip with colleagues from the cruise and travel industry. I feel extremely lucky to have this sort of offer and would never take something like this for granted.

But it did get me thinking about the blur that sometimes exists between work and play and the great benefits of doing something different, networking, having informal discussions and actually having fun while working.

There are numerous opportunities afforded to us in the travel industry to do this sort of thing: conferences, dinners, awards functions, golf days, celebrations, roadshows, brand and tourist board presentations, programme launches, ship launches, fam trips, breakfast briefings . . . you get the point, the list is long.

Friends and colleagues

These events give us the chance to interact with our peers, to get a broader perspective of the travel industry, to understand challenges and successes in other businesses and how these might relate to our own, to get to know a wider network of people and, dare I say it, enjoy ourselves in a way that is harder to do in the day-to-day business environment.

There are a number of people I am proud to have as my friends from within the travel industry who I would never have got to know so well if it hadn’t been for taking up a number of these opportunities over the years. That said, there has to be a balance. We can’t always be at every event we are invited to – there is some real work to be done, after all.

I have had to say ‘no’ to a number of things over the years that I would dearly love to have attended – international rugby matches, ski trips, conferences in amazing destinations and even a couple of travel industry friends’ weddings and birthdays. There just isn’t enough time in the year to do everything, with a day job to do and a family to spend time with. Sometimes, you just have to say no.

Amazing opportunities

What I would say is that pretty much everyone in travel has the opportunity to broaden their network, broaden their horizons, learn something new and make strong contacts – and even strong friendships – by getting out there and taking advantage of these amazing opportunities afforded to us.

As my great friend Phil Nuttall, director of The Cruise Village, once famously said at a Clia conference:  “There is no such thing as a free lunch.” It is incumbent on us to do something in return for these wonderful opportunities.

That isn’t to say we are obliged to suddenly drop every other partner because one has done something nice for us, but it seems a reasonable quid pro quo that you support those who support you.

So next time opportunity comes knocking to do something amazing, grab it with both hands, enjoy it and think about how you might say thank you to those who offered it to you.