Vice President: Marcie Ellison Outerbridge

Marcie Ellison Outerbridge

Vice President, Ellison Travel and Tours

Watch candidate interview.

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

I have volunteered for various committees within SYTA including the conference committee and international committee and most recently over this past year I have been on the board. I enjoyed working on the Global Forum committee and sitting in on DEI meetings on behalf of the board this year. Due to my experience organizing volunteers with the Vancouver Chapter of the Crohns and Colitis Foundation of BC I took on the role of “co-coordinator” of volunteers for the SYTA Annual Conference in Whistler. I have also volunteered at the annual conference on a regular basis. In my local community I was involved in the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Bid committee and also acted in the role of President for the Vancouver Chapter of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. In the past I was a mentor for Junior Achievement with the YWCA.

Please describe your professional experience in the student travel industry.

I have been in the student travel industry officially since 2004 when I joined my family business and started our West Coast operations for Ellison Tours. That being said since 1980 when my Father, Doug Ellison, started the business the next discussion about the industry was the next dinner conversation away! Since joining Ellison I have been involved in all facets of our business which focuses on the student travel industry. This includes everything from tour managing and tradeshow participation to business development, negotiating vendor agreements, marketing and risk management (CSTO is currently in progress). I am currently in the process of taking over the business with my siblings. I am now involved in all aspects of our business and oversee the daily operations of our group department.

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

Prior to working at Ellison I spent 10 years working in the human resources field. I was trained to assist organizations to attract and retain top talent and build effective teams. Although it has been over 15 years since I worked in that field I still apply these skills daily to communicate, motivate and drive myself and my team toward success and personal fulfillment. Being involved in many SYTA committees in the past and sitting on the board this year I have learned even more about SYTA and the needs and expectations of our members. The challenges of this past year (covid) have also resulted in experience with a range of stakeholders including the schoolboards, our insurance provider, airline partners, TICO (Travel Industry Council of Ontario) and ACTA (Association of Canadian Travel Agents) and I believe this will assist me as Vice President.

Please describe why you would like to serve as a Vice President (Active).

I would like to serve as Vice President (Active) as I understand the challenges facing our members and can work with the executive committee to lead SYTA in the coming years. After over 16 years of experience with Ellison and the student travel industry I have not only the knowledge and experience needed for this role but also an open mind and willingness to listen to our board, the members and other stakeholders. I also feel passionate about SYTA as an organization and (perhaps now more than ever) the importance of keeping our youth travelling in the future. I want to see the association develop and adapt to the changes that will be required and be a part of that solution. Finally, I want to serve as a Canadian/International active member in order to provide some international scope and outlook. I think that SYTA would benefit and I am ready for the challenge.

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

Eighteen months ago, SYTA research showed that our industry, youth travel, was thriving and we were heading into some of our best years with travel being accessible to more youth than ever. That being said challenges had arisen in terms of over-tourism, health and safety, border control and social and environmental hurdles. All of these challenges have been magnified by the covid-19 outbreak and the continued variants of concern. Many of the challenges facing the student travel industry are similar to the industry in general at this time but are magnified by the duty of care required for the student traveler demographic.

The result is an industry which is struggling to not only provide extremely safe AND educational travel experiences but also navigate their own budget cuts and financial concerns, hiring and staffing shortages, changes to government regulations and insurance as well as win back the confidence of parents, teachers and schools’ boards.

The needs and demands of our members will be different than in the past however SYTA is well positioned and can be of assistance to overcome these challenges as follows:

  • Like many associations SYTA must (and is, in my opinion) consider all aspects of the value proposition for our members ranging from membership fees and requirements to our role in setting industry safety standards.
  • Be the voice of Student and Youth Travel by ensuring that consumers are confident when booking with a SYTA member – this can be done by providing resources, training and recognized accreditations for tour operators, suppliers and educators.
  • Be prepared to change and evolve to accommodate our members whether it is the format of conferences, topics for education and training, advocacy and creating new partnerships.
  • Provide opportunities to bring all stakeholders together at all levels from regional and local to state/provincial and worldwide – to build trust through strong communication and learning from each other.

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

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of people and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime”.

This quote is a favourite of mine and describes why I am passionate about and committed to the student traveller, the student and youth travel industry and SYTA. I want to be a part of educating our industry to assist to broaden the views of students and our future generations. The first step is to get them travelling (safely) again – including cross-border! I can’t think of a better way to do that than joining with the members of the SYTA board and staff that are also professional, passionate, driven and committed to students. Being a candidate from Canada, having a lot of international industry knowledge and experience and working with a board that is diverse and experienced I know I will bring a unique and fresh perspective from “one little corner of the earth”