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Bringing Joy to Your Travelers

Do your trips spark joy?

In recent months, a decluttering trend has swept America, thanks in large part to the popularity of a Netflix show, “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo.”

Kondo, a petite woman from Japan, burst onto the home organization scene several years ago with her book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” which has sold millions of copies in more than 30 countries around the world. The book outlines her distinctive, minimalistic approach to organizing: “the Konmari Method.” On the show, she uses that method to help families living in clutter simplify and organize their houses and, in the process, achieve happier and more peaceful home lives.

At the center of Kondo’s method is a practice that has become her signature: She tells people to pick up clothing, toys, books and other items one by one, hold each closely and ask themselves whether it “sparks joy.” If it does, they keep the item. If not, it goes into the trash or a donation pile.

When we bring something into our homes, we tend not to think about it again. We end up holding onto junk because we think we might use it again someday. And the idea of sorting through old stuff to organize our homes seems so intimidating to some of us that we never take the initiative to try.

For many people, though, Kondo’s philosophy has proven a breath of fresh air. Her philosophy has spread beyond the realm of home organizing as well. People today look at many other parts of their lives and ask, “Does this spark joy?” And it got me to thinking: Should those of us who work in tourism be asking that question too?

In its best moments, travel is full of joy. People willingly pay a lot of money and endure long drives, interminable waiting lines and other hassles of transit because of the promise of joy on the other side. Joyful experiences should be the payoff for all the hard work involved in getting to another part of the country or world.

In tourism, we should hold joy as the gold standard. Few other industries have the potential to deliver joy the way we can. But like a busy home, our business is susceptible to clutter. It creeps into our operations and weighs down our trips. And if we’re not careful, it can squeeze the joy right out of travel.

If you’re looking to shake things up in your travel program for 2020 and beyond, consider applying the Konmari Method to your travel plans. Look at each element of a trip, from the destinations you visit to the hotels you use to the activities you include, and ask yourself whether it sparks joy. If it doesn’t, maybe it’s time to get rid of it.

We can’t eliminate hassle from travel. But we can interrupt the monotony with moments of joy. Sometimes that means eliminating boring stops or forgettable meals from an itinerary. Other times it means intentionally planning experiences and surprises that will give travelers a burst of joy at unexpected times.

If you can spark joy on your trips, your customers will return to travel with you again and again. And you might just find yourself enjoying travel even more too.

Brian Jewell

Brian Jewell is the executive editor of The Group Travel Leader. In more than a decade of travel journalism he has visited 48 states and 25 foreign countries.