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A Spotlight on the Students of TravelAdvocates

Nov 8, 2017

In our industry, we talk a lot about “markets” and “segments.” It’s an efficient way to get on the same page, for tour operators and suppliers alike. One of the biggest questions TravelAdvocates has fielded lately: “Why are you so interested in the ‘student market?” It got each of us thinking about where this journey began—and the truth is, it started before TravelAdvocates even existed. It started before we knew we were part of a segment.

It started as students ourselves.

“When I was in high school, my AP Government class took a trip to Washington, D.C. We stayed for two nights in a hotel, met with our congressman, and visited the Smithsonian and monuments. I fell in love with D.C., overnight travel and politics in one fell swoop! When it came time to apply for college, I applied for early decision and was admitted to George Washington University, where I attended on a music scholarship. After college and graduate school, I returned to my hometown in New Jersey and was elected to my local Board of Education. I can trace so many of my accomplishments, including graduating from law school, to the inspiration I felt during my high school trip to D.C.!”

—Robert Miller, Esq., President and Owner

“During my freshman year of high school, I was a tenor in my high school choir. That year, we participated in America Sings in Washington, D.C. It was my first trip outside of Wisconsin, my home state, and I’ll never forget the sense of wonder I got from standing in front of our national monuments. The architecture and grandeur of each elicits such raw emotions. And when they’re lit up at night? They’re spellbinding. Now, I love traveling personally, and national parks and monuments have become a bit of a hobby. My goal is to visit every national park and monument in the United States, both large and small, and I’ve already crossed over 50 off my list. If I can help even one kid discover that kind of lifelong enjoyment from a trip we help with, I’ll be happy.”

—Jason Wood, Vice President of Operations

“I owe the incredible life I have now to the ‘Close Up’ trip I took as a junior in high school. We spent a week in Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and New York, New York. I was amazed by our monuments and the rich history of our young nation, but I fell in LOVE with NYC. The energy on the streets, the intoxicating sense of possibility I felt, the theater, the food. I had to come back. Up until then, I’d only considered applying to West Coast colleges, but all of that changed after experiencing the East Coast with my class. I was accepted to Seton Hall University with a speech scholarship—and the rest is history. I now look at my 18-month-old son, and I’m extra thankful for all the effort that made my trip possible; he wouldn’t exist otherwise! Plus, when I’m negotiating for student groups, I vividly remember the hours we spent fundraising. The fewer the chocolate bars to hock and cars to wash, the better for everyone!”

—Melody Carlisle, Sales Manager

Every time we get a group request or negotiate a better rate for this segment, it’s easy to visualize the starry-eyed wonder that will light up a student’s face when the group materializes. After all, they were us once.

By Melody Carlisle, TravelAdvocates Sales Manager, SYTA Youth Foundation runner, and lover of all things geek culture.