Associate Board of Director: Anthony Hilden
Director of Sales, AFC Travel
Please describe your experience as a volunteer within or outside the travel community.
Volunteering has always been a core value I’ve held to. Currently, I serve on the Faith Travel Association Board (NTA/FTA), volunteer coach youth sports in my local community and serve monthly within my local church community.
Please describe your professional experience in the student travel industry.
AFC Travel is one of the U.S. leaders in providing student airfare to tour companies and student sending organizations. I work hand-in- hand with many of the largest student sending organizations in the U.S. by providing them airfare for their trips. AFC Travel is recognized by the three major U.S. airlines, as well as many international airlines, as a leader in the industry. I/AFC Travel have a direct seat at the table with most airlines when it comes to the contracts these airlines provide for students and their tours. Through our direct relationships, we have earned student airfare contracts with many airlines, which provide preferred pricing for student groups.
Please describe other professional or personal experience that would benefit you as a Board member.
I believe that my deep roots in the international airfare business would be a great benefit to my serving on the SYTA board. Many of the SYTA members travel internationally and it would be my goal to help the SYTA board continue to educate those members. I travel each year internationally for educational purposes and to volunteer on a trip with a non-profit. These personal experiences will only help broaden SYTA’s ability to educate those traveling internationally.
Please describe why you would like to serve as a Board of Director (Associate).
I am a strong believer that travel changes people, especially our youth. It opens their worldwide to new cultures and experiences, and I am so thrilled that SYTA and their organizations play a large role in fulfilling the needs of those wanting to take students on trips. I believe my experience in the student travel industry will only add value to the already great job SYTA is doing resourcing their members. AFC Travel, as mentioned above, is at the forefront of the student airfare industry, and I can provide information and resources to the SYTA board about changes and resources available to SYTA members. SYTA has been a valuable networking and educational resource for me and AFC Travel, and I’d like to add value to the board by being an airline voice as more and more groups travel internationally.
What do you see as the challenges facing the student travel industry? What can SYTA do to meet those challenges?
I believe the two greatest challenges that the student travel industry faces are cost and the world’s current events. Travel costs continue to increase, and the events that take place around the world impact whether or not a student group can/should travel to a particular area. While we cannot control the world’s current events, SYTA has and will continue to educate people when those events occur. Second, SYTA has been a leader in providing scholarships for students. The SYTA Youth Foundation has been key in providing travel scholarships to students who would not otherwise be able to travel. We need to continue to build the SYTA Youth Foundation so they can continue to provide more scholarships. Additionally, SYTA is a great resource for partnership buyers and suppliers to connect, which also lowers the cost of travel for students. The education SYTA provides at their annual conference continues to put valuable information in the hands of those at the forefront of the student travel industry.