Associate Board of Director: Adele Youngs
Director, Live Travel and Tours
Please describe your experience as a volunteer within or outside the travel community.
I have worked as a volunteer for SYTA in many ways as I believe it is important that we all share what we can within our community. I was a member of the Board of Directors in the “at large” Associate position for 1 year from 2010-11. I have been a member of SYTA’s International Committee since it was founded in 2008 (when it was still a “Taskforce”), and held the role of Chair of that Committee for three years. I also help out as a regular mentor for new international members coming to Conference for the first time. Here at home I am a member of the European Tour Operator Association’s Advisory Council (a voluntary body) which gives me the opportunity to share experiences among our European family of tourism businesses
Please describe your professional experience in the student travel industry.
I have worked within student travel all my career. I began whilst still a student myself leading US high school tours in Europe. I decided to make student travel my career when, on one of these trips, a 16-year old boy made me cry. I had taken a small group to the top of the Eiffel Tower and one boy suddenly announced, with tears in his eyes, “I worked for 2 years washing cars to help raise the money for this trip and this moment is worth every one of those cars.” I have worked in student travel ever since, partly in honor of that moment, following my realisation of how important travel, and particularly international travel, is to young people – it can change their lives. I have done just about every role professionally, from tour guiding, to operations, to product development and running my business, as well as organising an annual international youth music festival in London.
Please describe other professional or personal experience that would benefit you as a Board member.
In addition to my previous and current roles on the SYTA BOD and International Committee, I have joined other SYTA colleagues over a number of years in sharing international knowledge in various webinars and articles for SYTA members, including topics such as marketing, destination information and safety in Europe. This experience has helped me understand the concerns and questions that members have about traveling internationally. In addition, I, along with the International Committee, have recently worked closely with other SYTA members on the production of the International Safety Resource.
Please describe why you would like to serve as a Board of Director (Associate).
I very much enjoyed my experience on the SYTA BOD in 2010-11 and found it both rewarding and enriching. However, the time span of the 1 year role “at large” role meant that I was only just beginning to be able to contribute back before it was time for me to leave the BOD. Since that time, I have had to focus my time and energies on my own business and young family but, now that both are older, and as I have gained more experience of SYTA through a longer association and my involvement with the International Committee, I do feel that the time is right for me to seek to serve again. I would hope that, were I to be successful, I would now be in a position to be able to offer more to the SYTA Leadership in terms of my experience and commitment and could therefore start to pay the association back for all it has given me over the years.
What do you see as the challenges facing the student travel industry? What can SYTA do to meet those challenges?
I think that safety is clearly a very important matter of concern currently, both for domestic and international travel. I think that sharing experiences on safety matters from as many areas globally as possible can only enhance the knowledge that SYTA can offer its members, whatever destinations they offer. I also believe that the promotion of student travel can be hindered by politics, global events, and even by the actions of some travel companies – challenges which affect us all. I believe that by embracing fully the international element within travel SYTA can continue its excellent leadership in our sector. Outside of N America, there is very little differentiation in the student travel industry between “domestic” and “international” travel – indeed, student travel is practically inseparable from international travel. By emphasising the huge benefits that the exposure of young adults to history, culture and people who are different from those they encounter at home SYTA can continue its excellent work in this area and promote the value of student travel to all, whether domestically or internationally.