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By: Greg DeShields Past President Skal Philadelphia

Ralph Waldo Emerson is often credited for the phrase, “Life Is a Journey, Not A Destination” however, my signature phrase is “It is all about the Journey.”  I was gifted with parents who loved traveling; as a kid, we always took the long way by car, train, or boat, and I learned to appreciate the Journey.

Today, as a Travel Industry professional, I am passionate about the business of travel and its economic value and look forward to the Journey of each business trip.  During my travels, I am entertained by watching passengers dash their way to destinations and often wonder if they appreciate the experience of getting there.

I recently had a trifecta business trip; I am sure this is not unusual; however, this was my first extensive travel itinerary since the pandemic as the travel industry recovers.  Don’t get me wrong, I understand travelers’ skepticism about travel, I happen to be fully vaccinated and follow all the safety precautions, yet I still love the Journey.

The trifecta took me to Atlanta, Minneapolis, and Chicago in 4 days, not a minute to spare, and I was fortunate the travel Gods ensured all my connections were without delay.  This business travel concluded in Chicago attending The Skål International USA 2021 National Committee Meeting.  Meeting In-Person!!!

Skål is a professional organization of tourism leaders around the world, promoting global tourism and friendship. It is the only international group uniting all branches of the travel and tourism industry.  Skål International today has approximately 12,813 members in almost 322 clubs throughout over 100 countries.

Its members, the industry’s managers, and executives meet at local, national, regional, and international levels to discuss and pursue common tourism interest topics.

The word Skål comes from Scandinavia and has a long tradition.

Delegates from various SKAL USA Clubs were present at the National Committee Meeting, representing their respective Clubs within SKAL USA to discuss the budget and vote for bylaw changes.  At the Hilton Rosemont Chicago O’Hare, activities began with a dinner cruise on the Odyssey Lake Michigan followed by morning, Educational Programming, then a special dinner in the evening.

One important and enjoyable aspect of the meeting was joining the Skål International Toast. Founders adopted the word Skal and used the letters to create the ” Skål ” Club Toast. 

To Fellow Skålleagues Everywhere! Happiness! Good Health! Friendship! And Long Life! Skål!

I was incredibly honored to attend representing Skål Philadelphia.  On June 10, Skål International USA announced that their prestigious 2020 Club of the Year had been awarded to Skål Philadelphia.

Our club exemplified diversity, friendship, and the need for excellent communication. In addition, we took our monthly Zoom sessions to another level. Not just chat sessions, we conducted well-planned, focused, educational events meant to engage and educate Skål members.

So, what were the highlights from the National Committee Meeting:

  • Most importantly, bonding with other Skål Clubs such as Skål New Jersey, Skål Washington DC, Skål Arkansas, Skål Hawaii, Skål Palm Beach/Fort Lauderdale, and Skål Alaska.
  • Memories on the Michigan Dinner Cruise aboard the Odyssey Lake Michigan
  • A very productive NCM business meeting was well attended with 70-80 attendees.
  • Announced accepting nominations for Skål USA 2022 Elections
  • Save the Date was announced for North American Skal Congress 2022 – Orlando, FL May 13-15, 2022. Great discounted pricing packages to attend.
  • Support the Florimond Volkaert Fund
  • Update the newly formed Skål Reform Committee.  The mission is to develop ideas and recommendations to modernize and maintain the relevance of Skål International.
  • Skål Philadelphia was presented ‎with club banners from Skål Washington DC‎.
  • Breakout sessions focused on membership and website.
  • There are club promotional benefits for clubs active on the new Skål International website.
  • The ‎Private Dinner at Carlucci’s Restaurant was a BLAST!

All in all, it was a great meeting, and I concluded my Journey with priceless memories and many Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn posts!

As travel professionals, we know this year won’t bring the complete recovery for face-to-face meetings that many have hoped for. But things are looking up.  Attending in-person meetings might still be an intimidating prospect for many people, but it is also true that there are many ways of staying safe while taking advantage of the many benefits that meeting face-to-face provides.

To Fellow Skålleagues Everywhere!


Good Health!


Long Life!