When we find ourselves isolated from the world around us, nothing means more than human interaction. While everyone has had to adapt and change in different ways, we’ve been unified in learning the importance of each other, from a friendly call to cherished moments together. We revisit the past few months of the pandemic to look at how these human moments have shaped us.
We are social beings, our need to connect is as fundamental as our need for food and water – even more so during a crisis. But over the past few months many of us have experienced isolation and weeks of no human contact. In a way, this has brought us all together. Every one of us has felt the isolation of the same four walls, the flat haze of computer screens that have come to replace face-to-face conversations, and the heart-breaking separation from loved ones.
People lost the freedom to travel, and thus, the freedom to see the people and places they cherish most. But it also lifted the curtain on how we could help each other through darker times.
The travel industry is centred around real people’s lives. For many reputable tour operators and travel agents it’s an industry united by the value that humans bring. When the pandemic broke out, some travellers found themselves abroad with restrictions being put in place and flights home being disrupted.
Others had their once-in-a-lifetime holiday, planned years in advance, now suddenly cancelled. Our core focus throughout all of this was to deliver the human connection people crave and need most during a crisis.
We were at the end of a phone to offer words of advice and reassurance, anticipating announcements and changes to ensure clients were taken care of before they’d even woken up to the news. Through deep connections and personal relationships with our suppliers, those once-in- a-lifetime trips were moved to new dates at no charge or additional cost.
Yes, this was complex. Yes, it was challenging and difficult. But for us, this is also business as usual. Doing the right thing and responding with empathy, support and generosity are principles embedded in our culture; and we discovered how invaluable this is during a time of uncertainty and anxiousness.
"While the separation has been hard for everyone, it’s also highlighted how conversation can boost our mental health. Talking stimulates our emotions, relieves us of worries, and helps us journey through difficult situations."
As has been apparent over the past few months, loneliness has gripped the nation but at the same time, it has opened up amazing opportunities for renewing human connections. Families have taken more time to speak to each other, offices have been united across Zoom, friends from around the world have started talking to each other. While the separation has been hard for everyone, it’s also highlighted how conversation can boost our mental health. Talking stimulates our emotions, relieves us of worries, and helps us journey through difficult situations.
Our team at Carrier have always thrived on inspiring conversation. Discovering your passions, interests, and what makes you tick to find that perfect experience is all about human connection. So when some of our employees joined the furlough scheme, their resourcefulness, creativity and strong sense of community led them to a new partnership with Re-engage. Re-engage is a charity that relies on volunteers to be call companions for those aged over 75 who are lonely and isolated. As a result of lockdown and self-isolation, the charity was overwhelmed with people who needed their support as well as people who wanted to volunteer.
Not only did our team find new purpose in their conversational expertise but they were also able to assist with the recruitment process of volunteers. Out of a crisis came something wonderful; we were able to help forge life-enhancing connections for people and build new relationships across the country that added moments of joy and happiness to lives that were struggling. Simply talking can help us support each other and shed light in places that might have been a little bit darker if we’d not had the time to stop and think.
The good news is that the challenges of profound disruption and uncertainty also present an opportunity to re-think how we travel. Now is the time to reimagine how we can experience the joy holidays bring, even as it fluctuates and remains volatile.
As we all re-join the world, let’s take with us this compassionate approach. Let’s make a clear choice to fully engage with people and immerse ourselves in local life when we visit new destinations and communities. Take the time to listen to people’s stories, learn from their experiences and indulge in more fulfilling conversations. Turn off your phone and ask questions to the people that live and breathe the local culture, who know ancient fishing traditions, can share the best views of their town, or unlock the door to hidden spaces.
Now is not the time to stand still. It’s the time to learn, reflect and look positively to the future. We may find ourselves on a different path, but we can walk it together.