“It’s a great huge game of chess that’s being played—all over the world—if this is the world at all, you know.” – Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass
In Lewis Carroll’s beloved classic, Through the Looking Glass, Alice, the inquisitive heroine, enters a fantastical world where everything is reversed. On her magical journey across this strange country, Alice encounters mythological creatures, talking chess pieces and a host of characters including Humpty Dumpty and Tweedledum & Tweedledee.
The novel offers readers a chance to engage in an unpredictable world of bizarre happenings. Alice had no control over her life’s direction while outside forces influenced her choices. Though a larger power guides Alice, this metaphor of fate is parallel to our pandemic predicament in the travel industry. Like Carroll’s extraordinary tale, our story seems akin to magical cakes and secret doors.
Out of the headlines comes the unconventional idea from several major airlines offering “Flights to Nowhere” that allow passengers to board planes, experience a flight and land in the same location. A seven-hour Qantas flight sold out in less than 10 minutes last month. This is an unimaginable by-product of months in isolation and severe restrictions on movement across the globe.
By now, we’ve all experienced Zoom and a myriad of new offerings to bridge the connection. The virtual conversation, meeting, event, class, seminar has become an experiment. Like all experiments, it takes practice to get it right, but when it is, the outcome can be deeply rewarding.
Once upon a time, you may have imagined getting front row seats to a performance by a world-famous artist. Today that musician will happily create songs with you in your living room. The renowned chef who has always kept recipes a secret can be found stirring a pot of marinara right beside you. We are physically distanced yet virtually connected in a way that has made exceptional experiences uniquely accessible and entirely possible.
The conversation in the events industry has shifted toward inclusivity and the human connection. This shift accelerated by the unintended pause precipitated by the pandemic has us all peering through the looking glass. However illogical these inventions may seem compounded by the uncertainty of the future, let’s take a clue from the Looking Glass World.
Each time Alice successfully crosses over a square, she is closer to her goal. While traveling on this bizarre journey, some chess pieces can move in any direction, while others can only move one space at a time. External forces and structure will always affect our movement and perhaps our freedoms. But through the haze a compassionate community emerges. Let’s seek understanding and connection from those we meet during this transformative time.