Vice President Candidate: Justin Shuler
President – Group Travel Network, Inc.
Drawing from more than 20 years of first-hand experience in the amazing student/youth travel industry, along with my commitment as a SYTA Volunteer and current Executive Board Member, I believe I am the right candidate to be your voice as we move forward as an organization. My promise is to promote the opportunity for ALL members to voice any issues they face, to ensure the BOD as a whole is focusing on those issues, and to continue to strengthen the connection between our membership as a whole.
Briefly describe your experience in the student travel industry, including any volunteer or leadership positions which you have held.
As a third-generation student travel planner I have literally grown up in/around this industry. Among my earliest memories, I recall assisting my grandfather as he tour directed groups in the Orlando area. Those experiences were followed by having the opportunity to learn from my father as he would escort groups around various domestic destinations. In 1998, I officially joined the World of Student Travel as an Account Executive in my father’s company where the door was opened allowing me to learn as much about the “business” as humanly possible, or so I thought. Fast forward to the Fall of 2004 when I boldly embraced the opportunity to form my own corporation, and thus Group Travel Network, Inc. was created. As we complete our lucky 13th year of business I am proud of the knowledge I have gained and the accomplishments of my team.
My experience in SYTA began in 2008 at the San Antonio Annual Conference. Since that event I have volunteered extensively in the conference committee, acted as Chairman of the Golf Committee (creating exponential annual growth), served on the SYTA Board of Directors, and most recently I accepted an appointment to the SYTA Executive Board as Treasurer.
Why do you want to serve on the SYTA Board of Directors and how will SYTA benefit if you are elected to the Board of Directors?
As an avid enthusiast in the student travel industry for nearly 20 years, and an active member of SYTA for more than half of that time, I believe it is my duty to give back.
Firsthand experience with international inbound/outbound and knowledge of all aspects of domestic travel including transportation, lodging, dining, safety, etc. I believe I have just about seen it all. Multiple group types, groups sizes and travel destinations have provided me with a level of experience that is not often duplicated. This experience provides me with an ability to understand many issues that our industry continues to face. Based on my hands-on management style I believe SYTA will benefit from my service as the Vice President.
Why do you want to serve as SYTA Vice President and how will SYTA benefit if you are elected Vice President?
It would be my true honor to serve as the Vice President of SYTA. I would strive to act as the connecting voice between Active members both large and small. While also ensuring that the connection between Actives and Suppliers is bolstered in an effort to create the smoothest lines of communication to stay ahead of issues, changes, and trends. It is my belief that communication is the key to success, and that EVERYONE should have a voice that is heard! As such it will be one of my goals to encourage all members, regardless of membership type or company size, to use their voice to actively engage in the SYTA community…and ultimately affect change, for the good of the industry.
In referring to SYTA’s Strategic Plan, what aspects of the plan are you most engaged in and how do you feel you can help SYTA achieve these strategic objectives?
SYTA’s Strategic Plan includes objectives that span topics such as communication, member retention, research, sustainability, the SYTA Youth Foundation, and more. Each of these objectives are equally important and were chosen to help promote the forward growth of the industry as a whole. I feel most engaged in communication and research. It is my opinion that communication is key to the success of any organization and that investing in forward-thinking research is integral to providing accurate information based on topics deemed as important to our membership.
What do you see as the challenges facing the student travel industry? What can SYTA do to meet those challenges?
Information obtained via various membership discussions have indicated that Safety & Crisis Management and Technological Changes are among key challenges we face as an industry. Though these two items seem to be worlds apart as topics I see them as an opportunity to combine efforts in a singular direction in an effort to provide a solution to two industry challenges. Actively acknowledging the experiences, questions and concerns of our members allows us to assist in deliver content specific information that focuses on key topics, including Safety and Crisis Management. Being involved in research that allows us to understand the full scope of these challenges will ensure that the content being delivered is current and accurate as it pertains to our membership.
Staying ahead of the technological curve is truly important in today’s society. I believe that active research efforts should be placed on technology topics such as web design, mobile application creation, customer relations software, payment processing, etc. The dispersal of this information, to our members, is imperative for us as an industry to remain at the forefront of the travel industry.
Please comment on the significance of the SYTA Youth Foundation and its role in furthering SYTA as the Voice of Student & Youth Travel?
As the philanthropic extension of the SYTA Organization, I believe that the SYTA Youth Foundation is integral to promoting our belief that “Travel Changes Young Lives For Good!” Promoting the educational value of our organization of our members is important to the growth of the membership, however, promoting the value of our membership (and their belief in the value of student travel) is important to the growth of industry as a whole. Giving back to the youth we serve via the SYF is an amazing statement to our clientele.