Millennials in Travel, which launched with 90 members on Feb. 21, is a Los Angeles-based organization with lofty plans for connecting young members of the travel industry.
Leadership of the new organization includes two travel agents: Caitlin Murphy of Frosch Classic Cruise & Travel is director of communications, and Vanessa Sawtell-Jones of Worldview Travel Beverly Hills is director of events.
Also on the leadership team are: Chadwick Newberry of Qatar Airways, director of industry relations; Carolyn Pope of the New Zealand Tourism Board, director of membership, and Joshua Smith of Travcoa, director of strategic development.
Smith spoke with Travel Market Report about the group’s plans and the challenges facing the youngest members of the travel industry.
How did you first get involved with the organization?
Smith: I had heard about a small group called The Travelistas, a few girls in the Los Angeles travel industry who would get together every month to socialize and network. They decided to open it up to the male population so I came to the first event.
They already had a core group of people, but because of my background with business development I saw a big opportunity to take it further.
What services does the new organization provide to members?
Smith: We are a career development network for millennials in the travel industry. Our goal is to provide networking opportunities in a relaxed atmosphere.
When we [millennials] attend industry events, we end up segregating ourselves, because we’re a very small population. We are also looking to foster relationships with other young travel professionals, offer a job opportunity forum and provide mentoring for new professionals in the industry.
Why launch an organization like this, in an industry which tends to be dominated by an older demographic?
Smith: When I first joined the industry in 2007, I was the youngest person at every event I went to. Now, we’re seeing an influx of young people who see travel as a viable career option. It used to be such a huge age gap – I’ve seen that gap close. With this economy, people are looking for a career change.
Our generation communicates differently, markets differently and conducts business differently.
What types of travel industry professionals can join?
Smith: Our bylaws say there needs to be diversity at a national level, as well as a chapter level. We’re open to destination marketing members, travel agents and tour operators, among other roles.
There can be no more than two people per sector [in a leadership position], with everyone in general born after 1975. We also ask that those who are millennials become passionate contributors and act professional in social and work settings.
What are your plans for expansion?
Smith: Within a few days of our launch, I was getting emails from around the world. From Paris to Antigua, and smaller areas in the U.S., like Tampa and Iowa City, that would like to be a part of this. We launched on a national level with our first chapter in Los Angeles.
Our strategy is to launch in Washington, D.C., Atlanta and New York in 2013, followed by Chicago, Miami, Dallas, Denver, Las Vegas, Seattle, Toronto and San Francisco in 2014. We will launch internationally in 2015.
What services is the organization developing?
Smith: We have a job board on our Facebook page that is probably going to be transferred to a private forum as we develop relationships within the travel community for our members to access. We need to first prove ourselves as an organization by developing candidates for those opportunities.
We’re putting together an internship program for those in their last years of college and a mentorship program for those in the industry for a year or two.
How much does membership cost?
Smith: Membership is free as of now, as we’re still working on putting more structure in place for the organization.