Associate Board of Director: Mike Stoupa

Mike Stoupa, CTIS

Tourism Sales Specialist, Visit Prince William
Watch candidate interview.

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

I have served on the American Bus Association’s Marketplace committees (Education and Orientation) for the past seven years. I served as both vice-chair and chair for the Orientation Committee for two of those years.

Please describe your professional experience in the student travel industry.

I started my travel industry career working for a receptive tour operator in sales as a group tour planner. In that role, I planned thousands, and booked hundreds, of itineraries for groups, the majority of which were student tours. In addition, I have played the role of event organizer, tour escort, When I left to work for my current organization, I was the top grossing sales team member out of a team of five. I have continued to serve the student travel industry in my current position with Visit Prince William. It is the market segment which I spend the most time serving. I also plan the numerous sales missions I organize around visiting student tour operators, many of which are SYTA members.

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

For the past six years, I have been presenting to the George Mason University’s Tourism and Events Management classes about career possibilities and destination marketing/sales. I was also responsible for managing interns for the past six years from various colleges and universities throughout Virginia. This teaching/educating experience gave me insight in how our future young professionals view the student travel industry, as well as other industry market segments.

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

Helping others is a trait I not only embrace but live day after day. I’m constantly focusing on ways I can make someone’s job easier, more efficient, or more effective to everyday or challenging issues. It is with that same spirit of service that I’d like to serve on the Board of Directors. I would like to provide my willingness to serve and experience as a way to improve the business’ of SYTA members. I have seen how valuable my experience has been to ABA’s Marketplace and would like to extend that same spirit of service to SYTA. I bring experience as both a tour operator and a destination marketer to the table, which I feel helps widen my scope of knowledge to all members, not only the Associate members.

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

In my opinion, the current challenge of the student travel industry is marketing. Especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are likely going to have to justify to teachers, principals, youth organizers, etc. that travel is both informative and transformative in the wake of concern. All SYTA members are reeling from this pandemic and its up to all of us to ease fears by displaying confidence and demonstrating our industry’s safety measures. Additionally, companies will be looking to grow quickly and helping them inform schools and other organizations with messaging that is consistent about reopening will be helpful. Providing brainstorming sessions, webinars, and other educational resources on marketing in this environment are some things that could be helpful.

Underlying all this of course is safety, which has been a pillar of SYTA membership from the beginning. Emphasizing this long-standing tradition of excellence will also play a critical role in success coming out of this pandemic. This topic will be top of mind for all parents, organizers, and school officials so we need to be resolute as an industry in providing a safe and healthy environment for travel to happen.

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

I would just like to thank you for donating your time so selflessly to benefit SYTA!