Thursday, August 27, 2009

Time to hit the road and learn!

Now that the 2009 summer travel season has come to a close, it’s time to focus our attention on the 2010 season. Each year we dive deep into the detail of the past season to draw out lessons learned, best practices, and detailed information that will be transferred into action plans that enable us to continually enhance our safety practices. Although 2009 was a great season, like all responsible organizations, we must never rest on our success, but continually seek new and innovative ways to improve our systems and processes. One of the ways we accomplish that objective is to participate in industry conferences designed to share ideas and concepts with other educational travel providers.

Tomorrow I will depart for Norfolk, VA to attend the Student Youth Travel Association’s (SYTA) Annual Conference. The SYTA Conference is considered the premier event for the student and youth travel market. The Conference provides educational growth and information sharing to help companies involved with student travel improve themselves and the products and services they provide.

SYTA is the non-profit, professional trade association that promotes student & youth travel and seeks to foster integrity and professionalism among student and youth travel service providers. SYTA also maintains and is guided by an Educational Advisory Board comprised of representatives from organizations such as the Canadian Association of Principals, National Association of Music Education, National Association of Secondary School Principals, National Association of State Boards of Education, National Middle School Association, and the National School Boards Association.

By participating in this conference, we are able to learn and share best industry practices and also help shape future policies and regulations that will impact the Educational Travel Industry.
Attending this year’s conference with me will be Shannon Scheiwiller, the Senior Director of Leadership Programs. Shannon is also a nominee to the Board of Directors for SYTA. Shannon is responsible for our leadership development programs in prominent centers of history and learning—including Washington, D.C., London, Brussels, Paris, and top American universities. Students from grades 5-12 come from all over the world to hone their leadership skills, prepare for college, and explore future careers through unique access to extraordinary people, places, and insights.

I will also participate in the leadership of this organization this year by serving on the Professional Development Committee. This committee will evaluate Travel Accreditation Programs, Certified Student Travel Professional Programs, and Supplier Certification programs. All are designed to ensure the highest standards of safety and excellence of the operators we associate with. I’m excited about this opportunity.

On October 13th, I will be the keynote speaker on best practices for the handling of swine flu. This will be an Educational Conference Call sponsored by SYTA and offered to all members. I will share our successes in the handling of swine flu exposure to help other organizations successfully react to this disease as the nation continues to develop its pandemic response. Our experiences in China uniquely qualify our organization for leading this event as we did not have a single case of swine flu in China during the travel season due to the proactive steps we took in preparing our associates, students, parents, and leaders for travel.

I will provide more information on the scheduled conference call and the information shared as the date grows closer. I also plan to highlight lessons learned at this conference in my blog next week so please come back to view them.

If you would like more information about SYTA please go to or you may contact them directly at the address or phone number listed below.

SYTA Office
Student & Youth Travel Association
8400 Westpark Drive, 2nd Floor
McLean, VA 22102-5116
Tel: 703-610-1263

With that, it’s time for me to pack my bag and hit the road. As always, I wish you all safe travels and a healthy life!


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