A Q&A with Tiffany Hines, CEO of Global Escapes
Walk a mile in another’s shoes? Done! Especially if that other person is traveling to Hawaii. I recently chatted with Tiffany Hines, CEO at Global Escapes, about her travels to Hawaii last Spring. Her trip initially was for business but quickly turned into a celebration, as her 25th friend-iversary with best college friend Jena fell during the same year.
Tiffany and Jena began their vacation in Maui, then hit Lanai and Kuai, and ended in Oahu. They experienced everything from history—Pearl Harbor—to spectacular vistas—waking up at 2 a.m. to watch the rise on a mountain peak—to adventure—biking down the Haleakala highway.
Seconds into the interview, I immediately sensed how Tiffany’s love for travel bursts from her heart into her profession, and easily into her daily actions. It is evident that, for Tiffany, travel is not just a job, but a way of life. Our chat about her trip to Hawaii soon led to a discussion about how she views travel for her clients and for herself, and how those lines intersect as she truly practices what she preaches.
Harris: Hawaii sounds like the ultimate paradise for a vacation, but what would you say are the biggest hesitations for folks when it comes to planning a trip to Hawaii?
Hines: Distance and cost. It is roughly a 9½-hour nonstop flight from the Eastern coast of the U.S., which seems daunting when you can get a similar tropical experience in the Caribbean, which is much closer for those of us in Georgia. As for cost, it’s going to be something most people can’t afford to do frequently. I figured out when I was there that you can pretty much double what you normally pay for food and drink here and expect to pay that amount in Hawaii. Part of that expense is because it’s in the middle of the Pacific and a lot of stuff has to be imported, and the other part is that you’re a captive audience, and where else are you going to go to get what you need? It’s a tourist destination, pure and simple.
Harris: So, were those hindrances—cost and distance—things you took into consideration before traveling to Hawaii?
Hines: Yes. While it’s a long way to get there, it’s so worth it. For most people it would be either a once-in-a-lifetime trip or maybe once every five to ten years. It’s not typically a destination that people in our part of the country are going to frequent due to the long flight and expense of the accommodations, airfare, etc.
Harris: I know you all love seeing your clients’ pictures on social media platforms. As the vacationer this time, did you post on social media or blog while you were there?
Hines: I did not blog; I’m not a good blogger while I am traveling. I’m not a huge social media person—it’s one of those things I’m kind of funny about. I’m very conscientious about it because being in this business, while it’s great to inspire people, I never want it to be misconceived as bragging. But it is a part of my job, so I do try and share some, but I try to share it in a way that is inspiring.
Harris: I am sure you could write a whole book about things to do and not do while traveling to Hawaii, but what are some pieces of advice?
Hines: Absorb it! Be present in the moment. I think it’s so great to plan these big vacations wherever you go in the world, but I think these days so many people get caught up with getting that social media moment, and sometimes you just need to put that stuff down and just soak in where you are, and who you are with, and be present in that moment. For example, one morning, Jena [my long-time friend from college] and I got up at two o’clock in the morning, took a bus to the top of this mountain peak in Maui, and watched the sun rise. Then we biked down the mountain on a bike tour. While we were biking our way back down we were looking at the ocean and the other parts of the island, and it was really early in the morning and very quiet. That was really cool.
Harris: Wow, that’s incredible.
Hines: It was amazing. It was definitely early in the morning, and you pretty much have to go to bed at 7 p.m. the night before, but I would definitely recommend it.
Harris: That’s neat! It sounds like something fun for all ages.
Hines: Hawaii is just one of those places that is so cool—it’s like a big playground with all of this stuff to see and do…you just have to have the time to do it. But really and truly, for Hawaii you need to try and stay 10-14 days so you can experience at least two to three islands while you’re there, because like I said, most people can’t go every year.
Harris: So, beyond Hawaii…why is traveling so important to you?
Hines: OH, there are so many reasons! But I think, ultimately, it’s a good way for people to restart and refresh…a lot of people can think differently when they are in a different surrounding. One thing I’ve learned about myself in the last 10-15 years is that it is really hard for me to relax, even on the weekends, at home. There are always projects that need to be done, things I need to help my kids with, closets to clean out, to-do lists, and other things to keep up with. When you are just taking care of yourself it’s one thing, but when you multiply that by three or four people, you can become entrenched in all of the stuff that you have to keep up with on a regular basis. So, when you’re in those familiar surroundings, you’re constantly reminded by all those things, and it’s hard. I think that’s what’s so great about travel…it forces you to be in that moment and remember the “why”—why you fell in love in the first place, or what you love about your kids or your friends, and it’s good. It’s good to do that every now and then.
I just got back from a trip to Arizona, which was for work—most of my travel is for work—but it reminded me that it’s so good to just pause and ask yourself, “Okay, where am I in this point of my life?” Sometimes these little breaks are almost a restart. It gives you time to think through things that you might not take the time to think through when you’re in the midst of daily life.
Harris: Yeah, and I think throughout our daily lives we wish we could restart, and you’re basically saying that we can.
Hines: You can. It’s almost like giving yourself an excuse, like, “After this trip I am going to do this.” Sometimes you just need that moment to mark it and say, “Okay, from this point forward, I am going to do this or that.” Hawaii, for instance, is an amazing place, and I think because you are so far out and just surrounded by water, you can just sit and look around and realize how small you are, how big the planet really is, and how insignificant some of the daily stuff you worry and stress about really is. Travel can be life changing…it can truly be life-changing.
Harris: So, why Global Escapes for you? Your mom started this company, but you could have gone and done something completely different. Why did you stay with Global Escapes?
Hines: I think at first it was the love of travel as a young person, having the ability and the access to constantly learn about so many interesting places around the world, so many different languages, so many different cultures. That love of travel initially was what drew me in. Since around 2008, I think what I’ve realized is how big of a role we play in people’s lives. When you can work with a couple for six to eight months leading up to their wedding, which is one of the biggest days of their lives, and then you stay in touch with them after that and see them have kids and start a family. It’s something really special, going through life with people. For us, planning travel is much more than helping people book a vacation. It’s very rewarding and exciting when you have someone come in who has never left the state, or been on an airplane, and you get to be a part of their whole first experience. And then to have them come back and talk through what that was like, it hits you like “Wow.” You know you’ve played a part in a life-changing time for them, and I know that sounds grand and big, but we deal with a lot of that, and its really fun.
Have you read Simon Sinek’s book, “Start with Why”? I highly recommend it. Here at Global Escapes, we all have a different “why” for why we do things. For me, it is much more than planning a trip. It’s about realizing what an impact we have on people’s lives.
Harris: I have heard you say that working with really excited people rubs off onto you all, and it helps you do your job well.
Hines: Yes, like me. I’m busy running a business and honestly started having my consultants plan my travels, because it’s easier to show up, bags packed, excited for what is planned. I still get tickled about the fact that I’ve been in the business for almost 28 years, and just last year I started letting someone else plan my travel.
Harris: Why is that the case?
Hines: I’ve always done it myself, but I’ve always done a pretty poor job because, it’s like anything, when it’s something you do for yourself you always put it off. But you can’t really put some of these things off until the last minute, because you won’t get tours booked, or you won’t get reservations at the restaurants you want to go to. It requires planning.
It is true that Tiffany gets it. She understands the chaos of everyday life but the value of travel. The hesitations for certain destinations hinder her just like any other traveler, and she too still stands amazed by the power of travel in her own life. And isn’t that what we all really want, someone who gets it? Tiffany’s heartbeat runs parallel with the heartbeat of Global Escapes. Traveling should be fun, and done with friends; and, planning that trip should be equally as fun, and done with friends. You can rest assured that here at Global Escapes, we want to make sure your travels are always planned with friends who truly get it.