Associate Board of Director: LouAnna Henton
Senior Tourism Sales Manager, Nashville CVC
Please describe your experience as a volunteer within or outside the travel community.
My career in the travel trade began in 2013 as Sales Manager for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Since then, I have served in many volunteer roles both locally and on-site at conferences and trade shows. I regularly volunteer at ABA, OMCA, and SYTA and have served as a local volunteer with ASAE, the NFL Draft, and PCMA. I am currently serving on the OMCA Supplier Council as well as the ABA Orientation Subcommittee.
Please describe your professional experience in the student travel industry.
I became involved with SYTA in 2012 as a volunteer for conference in Nashville, TN. From there, I became our company’s primary contact and have attended six in-person SYTA Annual conferences and one virtual conference. I have Chaired the Membership Development subcommittee as well as co-chaired. In addition, I also chaired the New Attendee Subcommittee. I have also served on the SYTA Board of Director’s for three years as an Associate member. I have volunteered in many areas at conference and participate in the SYF Running for Youth. I earned my CSTP in 2017 and was recently placed on the Destination Update Task Force for 2021.
Please describe other professional or personal experience that would benefit you as a Board member.
I started my career in hospitality at a young age with my first job at the age of fourteen at a music theater in Pigeon Forge, TN. Because of my early experience in tourism, I have a deep understanding of the industry and have a clear vision of tour operator needs. I was also a part of a high school choir with the opportunity to travel to various destinations to perform. As an active participant in student travel at a young age and my sixteen years of experience in hospitality, I believe I can bring a clear perspective to the SYTA Board of Directors. I am also very involved in other industry associations with a good grasp on how each one manages membership as well as organizes volunteer roles and committee assignments. I believe this is especially valuable as the Board moves forward into the next few years of recovery.
Please describe why you would like to serve as a Board of Director (Associate).
My last three years on the SYTA Board of Directors were quite the roller coaster. I’ve seen our industry struggle immensely after theCOVID-19 pandemic. After much thought and consideration, I am running again for the SYTA Board of Directors to give a voice to our supplier community as well as see our industry through our greatest challenge. I think its important to have fresh perspectives on the SYTA Board, but I also feel it is important to build a Board with experience and understanding. Student lives will be forever changed after 2020, and I want to be a part of bringing travel back to students. I also want to help SYTA as an association through this recovery as best as I can, by committing to developing our associations sustainability for years to come. I feel honored to serve the past three years and hope to be able to continue on our path to success.
What do you see as the challenges facing the student travel industry? What can SYTA do to meet those challenges?
As mentioned previously, the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic is the biggest obstacle that the student travel industry is facing. SYTA must work to help restore traveler confidence with teachers, school boards and parents to ensure our industry thrives. SYTA can do this by increased virtual education and communication to schools and school boards. We must also advocate for a safe return to travel with industry standards and prioritizing SYTA tour operators as the safest way to get students back on the road and in the sky. SYTA can meet these challenges by focusing on tools already available (like the CSTO). We must take these tools already available but pivot our initial direction to meet current industry needs, such as COVID safe travel.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with the Nominating Committee?
Regardless of whether I am selected as a candidate, I will always support SYTA and its mission. I am humbled and honored to serve in this association and look forward to many more years.