How many times have we heard phrases like “It is not the goal that counts but the journey, the path”. The biggest enrichment, the indelible one, is growth, the experience accumulated during the pursuit of a goal, a dream. The same could be said for a journey where the goal itself becomes a path, a path that becomes more compelling if dotted with new encounters. Extraordinary moments in which never-before-seen panoramas, unexpected scents, unique emotions take on a whole new flavor if shared with each other. Plasma the heart, opens the mind to new scenarios, cultures, experiences. Experience forges you, inebriated at times, leaves a mark and above all revolutionizes if it is accompanied by new precious friendships, experiences that intertwine and inspire, stimulate you to look inside yourself. Not just a simple journey to unknown destinations therefore but a journey that leads you to explore even the most mysterious and fascinating part of life or ourselves, our inner world. This is the idea of Silvia Salmeri, founder of Destination Human, inspirational travel agency. Let’s find out with her how she managed to make this project unique in the world.
Where did the idea of Human Destination come from?
The intuition came from managing a B&B in Valsamoggia. During that host experience, I realized that travelers are looking for something different. We are not only talking about beautiful rooms and the territory but also about positive messages and enthusiasm. We are in an era of strong change: the reference models both in work and in relationships have collapsed. The fact of seeing a young girl making her dream come true was a source of enthusiasm for them and listening to their stories was also a source of inspiration for me. For a long time I thought I was peddling. Of having to deal only with the family. I had studied International Relations and if on the one hand I dreamed of going abroad to have an experience, on the other I was afraid of leaving the family context. It was a tough gym for life but it was also the motivation that made me create Destinazione Umana and believe that all people must fight for their happiness and the realization of their dreams. Meeting other people can be an important tool in this regard.
So what is your goal?
Overturn the concept of travel. No longer where to go but who to know. Over the years it has evolved a lot as a project and today it is a tour operator with the mission of organizing inspirational trips suitable for the life phase that is going through. Human Destination we are ourselves. Everything has evolved mainly into experiences for small groups. There are many women who leave alone and who want to meet other travel companions. Our audience is 99% female. They are women mainly in a phase of change in their life and who see travel as an internal stimulus. The common fil rouge is always that of personal growth which can be through walking, writing, working with a counselor or much more.
What difficulties did you find in realizing your project?
Lots. On the one hand it requires an economic sacrifice. For many years you sow but you don’t reap. You start to see some sprouts but before seeing the fruits it takes years, especially when you start from scratch. It is already difficult to start a “standard” business, it is even more difficult when you invent a completely new job that does not exist. A job of product evolution was also needed. And a lot of tenacity. If for my part I didn’t feel it as a mission but only as a job, I would have already given up. It was helpful to find people who contributed with me to the growth of the project.
How important was teamwork?
It was fundamental. Nobody saves himself. I could not have created Human Destination alone. We started with a territorial team. Now we are more scattered in various regions, but the central nucleus has remained that. There has always been a sharing of values and dreaming together that the project could be realized. I founded it together with Valerio, my ex-husband, then I had to rearrange everything after the separation. There were hard moments, but whoever participated in the project still contributed something in some way. And negative experiences have also left something positive.
Have you introduced any news in recent years?
Travel Counseling. From 2019 we provide an hour of pre-departure advice that helps the most undecided travelers to choose a destination or if the trip has already been chosen from the catalog we offer a service that helps them internalize the experience that they will therefore set for the journey, to start a change or simply to give yourself an hour to reflect on what they will do.
What feedback do you have from your customers?
Really always positive. With the fact that it is a niche craft work, with great attention to detail, it is really difficult to miss the shot. The people who arrive are very aligned with our values. Working well on the journey, it is unlikely that they will not go away enriched. In 2019 there was the boom of the Way of the Goddesses. As Way of the Gods we had very few members by now, having become one of the many tour operators that offers it. We therefore decided to convert it to the female. Groups for women only, with bloggers and writers to accompany them, and a consequent boom in bookings from April to October. We have noticed that women really need to be together, to start alone, to leave worries at home and have experiences for themselves.
What changes have you found in tourism in recent years?
The general trend is that: experience, local, to get to know the area in depth. What differentiates us is the pre-departure work, the journey within you. One thing that has been emerging in the last period is also the journey to learn about new lifestyles. In my opinion, Italy will reverse the course. In the north they can no longer find sustainable rhythms and want to return to the dimension of the country, more easily found in the south. There is a return to more human lifestyles that we find them more easily in the small town than in the big city.
Your vision for the future?
Continue to take root and grow, always maintaining our humanity.
What is the journey that has remained most in your heart?
A first trip to Calabria. I felt this call to a land I had never known. There then I met my current partner. I would like to encourage everyone to listen to their inner calls. Now for about half of the year I live there. A trip can truly change your life. After the divorce, for example, I had given myself Women who run with wolves, an inspirational trip to Abruzzo with a shaman, a rite of passage for women who want to reconnect with their femininity. In short, different journeys for different life stages that can truly inspire us profound changes.