Associate Board of Director: Brent Imrie

Brent Imrie

CEO/Director, Tour Time NZ Ltd.

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Please describe your experience as a volunteer within or outside the travel community.

I have been a coach of High School Hockey, a business mentor for travel companies that are starting up, I am on the board for the KBB Music Festival, and have recently been asked to be on the board for Condor7’s and North Harbour Baseball.

Please describe your professional experience in the student travel industry.

Tour Time has been working in student travel for 29 years. However the achievement I most proud of in the Student Travel industry is the creation of the School Travel Collective Inc (STC), of which Tour Time are the founding member and I am the Vice Chair Person, and whose purpose is to help reset and provide confidence in the school travel sectors financial stability, through the cornerstone of TAANZ financial bonding. STC was developed to ensure the protection of schools and their communities funds and setting higher standards of health & safety and duty of care practices within the School and Youth travel sector down-under.  After COVID rocked our country and we closed our borders for two years, the School Travel Collective was developed to answer the two primary concerns of parents (and schools) “Is my child safe? Are my funds safe?”.

The overriding objective of STC is to ensure schools can have trust and confidence in all aspects of school group and youth travel for the future when working with STC member companies. Whilst the concept was in the works for three years, it was cemented in the wake of the issues that happened across the sector in NZ/AUS in 2020, with schools losing funds and only receiving minimal credits when using companies that were not TAANZ financially bonded and licensed during COVID-19.  This was a direct result of the travel industry in NZ/AUS being unregulated, meaning that businesses were able to operate in a manner that could not support the mass cancellations that eventuated. The financial losses suffered by schools who worked with companies that were not TAANZ financially bonded had left the whole sector at risk of reputational damage, which we are pleased to say encouraged people to work more collaboratively towards providing a solution.

Throughout the development of STC, I have worked with multiple Government departments, travel associations, companies and boards of trustees to co-create the School Travel Collective constitution, rules and assist with the redesign of the Ministry of Education guidelines for education outside the classroom in New Zealand. Through my industry contacts STC has now received full endorsement from the NZ Government, Ministry of Education, Education Outdoors NZ, Tourism New Zealand, School Sport NZ, School Trustees & Governors Association and many other associations across New Zealand. I have also grown our membership from the original three founding companies to now having 5 full members and three further companies applying to become TAANZ Financially Bonded so they can join STC. It has truly become a collective. The result of which means that we have manged to self-regulate the school/youth travel sector in New Zealand to ensure clients are not caught out again as they were during COVID when working with companies that are not TAANZ Financially Bonded.

Please describe other professional or personal experience that would benefit you as a Board member.

Having started out in the travel industry as commercial pilot and then tour coach driver and working my way through my family business, I can see all aspects of the industry through the eyes of being on the ground as a coach driver, tour manger, product developer, itinerary planner, sales manager, across multiple markets. This has given me a deeper understanding of every aspect of the industry so I can see the bigger picture of how small changes can have a huge impact if not clearly considered and understood.  I feel that I know our industry from the ground up, which helps me understand impact on a global scale.

Please describe why you would like to serve as a Board of Director (Associate).

I would like to be involved on the Board of Directors of SYTA to help drive change within the industry on a global scale. I believe myself to be a passionate, ethical and involved member of the Tourism Industry and feel my knowledge, experience and passion would make me an excellent member of your board.

What do you see as the challenges facing the student travel industry? What can SYTA do to meet those challenges?

We need to help rebuild consumer confidence in travel post COVID-19, whilst also raising awareness & standards of Health & safety, duty of care across the sector. SYTA could work collectively with its members to help redefine travel and help its members to answer the two questions that all parents/schools ask “Is my child safe? Are my funds safe?”.

This could be done through SYTA setting global best practice minimum standards for all members whilst educating the market around these standards. By doing this SYTA would be positioned as the association for all youth travel operators to be members of as SYTA has set the benchmark of the newly rebuilt and redefined youth travel sector.

What initiatives are you passionate about that you would like to see further implemented in our industry?

Helping to reduce the Environmental impacts of travel on climate change & lowering carbon emissions whilst educating and creating awareness for travelers – care for the land, sea and nature, treading lightly and leaving no trace.  Helping to make travel accessible to everyone across all socio-economic demographics.

Helping to raise the standards of health & safety, duty of care for students travelling around the world.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with the Nominating Committee?

I am incredibly passionate about the travel industry and would welcome the opportunity to be part of SYTA as we help redefine youth travel and grow all member businesses across the globe collectively.