As the saying goes, strength comes in numbers, something that’s especially comforting to any young person just starting out in the travel industry. Being part of a large network of like-minded individual is invaluable to success, which is where Young Travel Professionals steps in. The global organization, with chapters in major U.S. cities, Cape Town, London and Vancouver and Toronto, aims to help the younger generation develop their careers in the travel and hospitality sectors. It’s free to join at youngtravelprofessionals.com, there is no age requirement and chapters meet monthly to network, share industry tips and to simply enjoy a pint. We sat down with Zach Vanasse, President of YTP-Toronto, to discuss the how young people are faring in the industry today, and what they can do to get ahead.
1. What advice would you give someone just starting out in the travel industry?
Get out there. The travel industry is an industry of people and experiences. The best thing to happen to me in the industry was the fact that my first job in travel was working as a journalist for a travel trade publication. Being in that position forced me to get out to industry events, meet the people working in a variety of roles across the industry, and allowed me to engage with them. It’s important to be present in the travel industry, so take every opportunity to meet the people who make this industry what it is.
2. What do you think is the biggest misconception of young travel professionals today?
It’s the same misconception young professionals are dealing with in a lot of industries; this idea that we aren’t hard working and that we aren’t committed to an organization or company. It’s an absurd notion. There are quality employees of all ages and there are poor employees of all ages. For whatever reason – more often than not – when a company makes a human resources error in hiring, for instance, a baby boomer, it doesn’t seem to colour judgment on all other baby boomers. That same courtesy of expectations isn’t often extended to young professionals. My guess is simply because, to date, organizations don’t have as much experience with the up and coming generation of the work force. I’m confident we’ll get there and then likely have to relearn those lessons again for the generation after that.
3. What do you think young people bring to the travel industry? Why are they considered an asset?
For one, young people are malleable. They’re new to the industry and haven’t had the chance to develop bad habits or get stuck in their ways, which is to say they are receptive and open to learning from those with experience. Then, of course, there’s simply the enthusiasm and exuberance that naturally comes with youth. They’ve got their whole career ahead of them and they are excited about the prospect of joining this industry. Organizations that embrace that raw energy and help nurture it are going to benefit from the new ideas and contemporary skills the next generation is bringing into the industry.
4. What travel trends are you noticing among millennials today?
More than any other generation, millennials have an appreciation for the potential impact travellers can have on the planet. That’s not to say millennial travellers are looking for so-called “eco-tours” en masse, but rather they want to travel with companies that are taking the necessary responsible steps to help quell the various negative effects travel can have on destinations and instead empower local populations and drive positive transformations in the places they visit.
5. In your opinion, is the future of the travel industry in good hands?
Absolutely. There are a number of major issues the travel industry is going to be confronting head on in the coming years. For example, conversations and forces around equality, sustainability, safety, and technology are only going to intensify and evolve going forward. The next generation of travel professionals is already thinking about these ideas and are preparing themselves to address them in new and compelling ways. Travel has always been about discovery, pushing boundaries, and exploring new territories, be they geographical or social. The next generation is charged and ready to drive our industry continually forward.