John A. Marshall was nominated as one of the 2018 Groups Today Top 10 Next Gens by readers for making a difference in the industry. John leads the sales department for the newly opened NFL Experience Times Square and sits on the Board of Trustees for the SYTA Youth Foundation, chairing the Running for Youth committee.
Could you give us a look at your career? How did you become involved in the group travel industry, and what led you to the role as Director of Sales at NFL Experience Times Square?
My introduction to group travel was completely serendipitous.
I'd been working at Top of the Rock Observation Deck for a few months when I decided to interview for an hourly lead host position. Fortunately, the interviews went really well and I soon found myself in a new role as a customer service representative working with hotel concierge sales.
After some time, a colleague of mine departed for a new opportunity and I was asked to join the group sales department. I was admittedly hesitant but accepted the promotion and started my group sales career at ABA Marketplace and SYTA Summit just weeks later. Talk about an introduction!
After 12 years of working with amazing mentors and the most wonderful clients, I knew it was time to move on to a new challenge at NFL Experience Times Square. It was hard to move on from a special place like Rockefeller Center, but the chance to be part of the new New York City landscape with such an exciting product was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
What's your favorite part of your job with NFL Experience Times Square, one of New York City's newest attractions?
The fans! Our guests are easily the best part of this job. On the very first tour I ever conducted, one Green Bay Packer enthusiast showed off his best rendition of "The Worm" in our Super Bowl Celebration and I immediately knew we were a part of something special.
I'm going to cheat and add a second favorite part: Our team here is made of the most talented and dedicated group of people you can imagine. It is an absolute pleasure to work side-by-side with them daily.
You have a wealth of experience in guest experience, customer service, group sales and management. What are your top three lessons learned?
1. Ask questions. Our industry is full of incredibly passionate, knowledgeable and innovative people who are always willing to help. Not only are they a great resource but, in my case, they are some of the very best friends you could ask for!
2. Innovate. Don't settle for what everyone else is doing or what has worked in the past. New ideas will push you and your company forward and allow you to deliver the best experiences to your clients.
3. Treat yourself. Group Travel is a great industry to work in—but you know what they say about all work and no play. Make sure to take time for yourself, whether it is quiet moments alone, fun with family and friends, or enjoying the experiences that this industry provides.
What is your most prized accomplishment in your career so far?
Being elected to the Board of Trustees for the SYTA Youth Foundation. I am continually proud and humbled to have been chosen by a group of my peers and given the opportunity to directly affect the lives of students in such an enriching way. I truly believe we are changing the world through travel one child at a time. I encourage everyone to find out how you can support the integral work of this foundation.
How do you hope to make a difference in the travel industry?
I truly believe that the only way anyone can make a difference is by using their voice in a truly authentic and meaningful way. I hope to continue to use mine to push this industry in more inclusive, progressive and innovative directions.
Courtesy of Groups Today.