Active Board of Director: Courtenay Betts
Senior Sourcing and Contracting Manager, EF Explore America
Watch candidate interview.
Please describe your experience as a volunteer within or outside the travel community.
Most recently I volunteered with the SYTA Youth Foundation and NYC & Company to produce the Silver Linings trip to New York City in February 2020.
2016 Paralympic Games – Back of house volunteer at Rio’s Track and Field Venue.
WE Day – Volunteered at WE Days across Canada (2011 Montreal, 2012 Montreal and 2013 Toronto).
Boys and Girl Club – Volunteered as an instructor in the music department; created and led curriculum for the afterschool program (2010 – 2011).
Special Olympics – Assisted with a regional blowing league (2000 – 2003).
Please describe your professional experience in the student travel industry.
I am currently in my 15th year working within the student travel industry. My experience began as a Tour Guide leading excursions through Canada and the US for middle school students. When I was hired for that role, I would never have expected it would have led to a full-fledged career in tourism. In 2011, I hung up my Tour Guide hat and moved into an Operations role with EF. With EF, I have been given the opportunity to learn about many different facets of the industry. I managed our Canadian Tour Director team for a two years, managed a product development team, held a production/sales role focused on US Bound trips, and finally just over 4 years ago relocated to the US to focus on sourcing and contracting for the domestic product. Through all of this I have been fortunate enough to receive a well-rounded understanding of the industry in a relatively short period of time.
Please describe other professional or personal experience that would benefit you as a Board member.
While most of my professional experience has been in this industry, I worked seasonally for the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) (2008, 2009, and 2010 Festivals). Through my experience with TIFF I gained skills centered around event management and crisis control. At TIFF I managed the Red Carpet at one of the Gala Venues and I learned what is key to an events success; how to prepare for the unexpected, and how to diffuse tense situations. My experience at TIFF has helped me think through operational issues and emergency preparations in ways that tend to differ from but compliment my fellow colleagues.
Please describe why you would like to serve as a Board of Director (Active).
Working in an industry where everyone is striving towards a collective goal is incredible. It is my mission to ensure that we prepare students to become Global Citizens and it is what continues to motivate me even through tough times like this pandemic. With a seat on the SYTA Board I would be focused on finding ways to get more people excited about the ways travel can develop young minds. I believe there is nothing we cannot achieve together if we create strong relationships built on trust and a common goal. As a board member I would share my passion with the entire industry, not just EF customers and partners. SYTA does such great work for this community and I see an opportunity to increase the number of organizations who participate and uphold SYTA values. I would encourage meaningful partnerships through my strong relationships within the industry and expand the scope of the strategic initiatives of SYTA.
What do you see as the challenges facing the student travel industry? What can SYTA do to meet those challenges?
SYTA has a unique opportunity to use market research to refocus consumer desires, and to motivate school boards to continue to recognize, sanction and fund worthwhile and meaningful excursions in a post COIVD world. This pandemic highlights that we must embrace technology, allowing us to remain productive and stay connected to people and events while isolated. However, while it has been amazing to witness museums develop virtual tours, and educators to create virtual classrooms, our industry must find a way to remined people to continue their exploration outside of their homes and outside of their communities when it is safe to do so. SYTA is in a great position to highlight the continued value of moving beyond the virtual experience and beyond the brick and mortar classrooms.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with the Nominating Committee?
I see my involvement on the board as mutually beneficial, since serving would provide me with opportunities to learn from leaders in this industry just as I would contribute to the growth of others. I plan to be in this industry for a long time, and as we focus on new and innovative ways for students to learn and grow, I hold myself to that same high standard to learn and grow with my esteemed colleagues at SYTA.