A Funny Story About A Swedish-Inspired Professional Group: Skål InternationalDecember 18, 2018
We don’t typically talk about first-person encounters here at Umgås, but for this piece, I’m going rogue.
My grandmother is a travel agent. Well, she was. She retired at the young age of 81 just a few weeks shy of my wedding. She was my florist and venue manager, after all. Anyway, she has a way with words. And what I mean by that, is she’s not very good at them. She often will mispronounce a word much to her chagrin, but that’s what makes her so lovable.
For years, my grandmother and my 90-year-old grandfather, also a retired travel agent who still currently volunteers twice a week at the airport, have attended skull meetings. They always talk about these amazing dinners with fellow travelers. They try different restaurants in town, and they always talk about the good ol’ days when you could get a real meal on an airplane and how you used to dress up to travel.
Now, fast forward to today: ALL MY LIFE I’ve heard my grandmother say she was going to “skull” meetings. Here I was, a girl who grew up in the Paul Walker, era and I thought my grandparents were part of a cool secret society (anyone else watch the seminal classic, “The Skulls”), but it wasn’t until I got a text from her this week where she wrote “skal” that the lightbulb went off.
Of course, she was talking about Skål International.
If you’re like me, and you weren’t aware this organization existed, let me give you a quick history lesson.
Skål International is a global organization for travel industry professionals. It began in Paris in 1932 by a group of travel managers who took part in a trip to Sweden, where they were greeted with nothing but the upmost civility. According to its website, the organization became the Association Internationale des Skål Clubs in 1934 and was formed with Florimond Volckaert as its first President, who is considered the “Father of Skål.”
Today, there are more than 15,000 Skål members. My grandparents are two of them.