Thursday, July 3, 2014

Like a Local

Recently, I've struggled with choosing an email sign-off. But really, I've typed that exact phrase into Google search. Multiple times. "Sincerely" sounds too formal. "Thanks" isn't formal enough. I'm not British, so "Cheers" sounds like a toast, not a farewell. An exclamation point makes me look overeager...right?!

As an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure, I send emails to a lot of hotel press people. I've reached out to swanky resorts in Bora Bora and city hotels just a few blocks from my office. To be fair, most of the press contacts use the same old email etiquette (and I can't blame them—thinking up something new is exhausting). But some opt for a not-so-stale, localized send-off:   

Warmest Aloha. Saludos from Sunny Cancun. Mahalo. Muchas gracias. Warm regards from Oman. Greetings from Bangkok.

To be fair, they aren't exactly innovative. But "thank yous" and "regards" sound much more alluring when they're written in foreign languages or sent from the Persian Gulf Coast. I may not be meeting them in-person (although I would be more than happy to, if they felt like throwing in a free trip), but exchanging emails with people from all over the world turns a somewhat banal task into something exciting. Those interactions have reminded me of what I love about traveling: meeting the locals. The landscape of the South African bush is breath-taking, but my recent trip would have been much less special without the company of our dauntless safari guide. 

Luckily, the same can be said for Travel + Leisure. It's a respected publication, but my time there would be meaningless without the same staff. I've fact-checked and researched for editors, sought out products for the photo team and even filled in for the assistant to the Editor-in-Chief (FYI, it was far from a Miranda Priesley experience). Everyone at T+L wants to enrich my experience and truly appreciates the help I provide. 

Although I only have a few weeks left in the internship, I'm not treated like I'm temporary. Even if I never return to the Hippodrome, I trust that the relationships I have made will last. Plus, I've devised travel plans for the rest of my life. First stop: Hawaii. Wait, no--Montana. Or maybe New Delhi?

For now, all the best from New York City.

Written by Helen Zook, Northwestern University, Travel + Leisure
Edited by Emma Weissmann, The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, National Geographic Magazine

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