Active Board of Director: Gaurav Namit
Vice President, Four Winds Tour & Travel
Please describe your experience as a volunteer within or outside the travel community.
I worked with solar lighting company called socialite that designs and delivers solar lighting systems to rural communities in West Africa. We work for providing light at the end of road for those who subsist on less than 2 dollars a day using a centralized charging system to minimize costs for communities.
Please describe your professional experience in the student travel industry.
My mother started Fourwinds when I was 9 years old and I have been around it my whole life. After my previous career focused in technology, I joined mom 7 years ago to work with mom to help modernize and grow the company. Leading to the pandemic we had seen our largest YoY growth for three years and largest sales year ever. Currently I oversee the recovery of the company through post pandemic travel.
Please describe other professional or personal experience that would benefit you as a Board member.
Prior to this I worked on several startups in Silicon Valley including two of my own. In that time I raised money, was part of YCombinator, and had one of my companies sold to a UK based marketing agency. Through these experiences I spent a great deal of time learning about different parts of fundraising, strategies for growing businesses, and technological opportunities. As we navigate forward as an industry in our interconnected world, it is vital to keep in mind how to expand our community both domestically and abroad and understanding the different challenges that will face companies at all stages will be critical. I feel that my experience with these things will help the greater community as we best navigate our growing but turbulent future.
Please describe why you would like to serve as a Board of Director (Active).
Over the years I have felt SYTA has continued to grow and serve our industry as a center point for vendors and operators alike to help connect different parts of our industry to continue to serve student needs. Whether it’s about finding bus companies in states we don’t usually operate to, to help with IRS rules, SYTA has continue to offer guidance and support within the industry. For all the benefits I have reaped from being a long-standing SYTA member, I would like to give back and help SYTA continue to move forward as it continues to grow back along with our industry.
What do you see as the challenges facing the student travel industry? What can SYTA do to meet those challenges?
Turbulent pricing, uncertainty around travel, re-staffing and re-tooling to meet increased demands are what I see as the major challenges over the next 18-24 months. Pricing fluctuations in gases continue to fluctuate with such wild abandon that we have to communicate changes and demands that we have never seen before. SYTA can continue to offer support to our members with useful communiques about these trends in the travel industry that is driving some of this uncertainty. Things like, infographics showing the sharp increase in gas prices, regional hotel prices, or airline prices could help our members communicate this to clients. Get ahead of the questions that they will start asking.
What initiatives are you passionate about that you would like to see further implemented in our industry?
SYTA has been working on industry trend research to help provide guidance to companies about how the industry as a whole is recovering. This is particularly useful as a benchmark about parts of the industry that each specific company may not be focused on. For example, our company does not focus on sports trips frequently, but seeing trends for companies that do can help guide sales calls in the case a client may have a sports travel needs. I would love to see us increase our efforts here for more granular data across the student travel space, internationally as well as domestically.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with the Nominating Committee?
Through the pandemic I think many of us had many questions and doubts and were wondering if this was the right space for the long term. After many nights wondering how long the endless COVID restrictions would last, I will say that I left realizing that although it was a more than challenging time for all of us, there is no place else I feel better suited to be for the next decade or more of my career.