Destination Directory

One ‘Aha’ Moment Changed Everything: Jake Pfeiffer

Founder | EXP Trips

Jake Pfeiffer was an Air Force brat growing up, so travel was always in his blood. He stumbled into student travel after receiving "a joke of a degree from ASU (Harvard of the West)."

"I also did a lot of leadership workshops and keynotes for youth organizations right out of college, and that's where the 'aha' moment happened," said Pfeiffer. "A teacher I knew was telling me about planning her trip to New York, and I offered to help plan it. The rest is history!"

Pfeiffer, who went on to found EXP Trips, loves soccer and '90s ninja movies, went to North Korea, speaks Turkish, and digs good stories.

EXP, through Pfeiffer's making, is refreshingly different from other student tour operators and brings Pfeiffer's passion for brand culture and customer experience to everything he does. As a result, the company now has a wonderful community of teachers who adore EXP and its ethos.

Pfeiffer is intrigued by how deeply rooted the travel industry's practices are in the past, and the way it believes things "ought" to be done.

"It's been cool to come into the industry without any prior experience, to bring a new perspective and vision to it," said Pfeiffer. "Now that I'm more involved in industry leadership, I'm also excited that industry vets are embracing positive change in a very forward-thinking way. It's an exciting time to be in our (student travel) world."

When asked about what his favorite accomplishments are so far, Pfeiffer can't pick just one.

"In ascending order: Breezing past a silly million-dollar goal that meant a lot to me at the start of our journey, having a friend that's a former marine witness our on-the-ground operations for a 1,000 person trip and say we have 'military efficiency with a smile,' and having a documented brand culture that's a living, breathing—and fun—embodiment of who we are." 

To learn even more about Pfeiffer's journey to the travel industry—and for some additional laughs—see the article he wrote for Medium.

Jake Pfeiffer is one of the 2020 Top 10 Next Gens, as nominated by Groups Today readers for making a difference in the industry with his fresh, progressive perspective. Click here to see the January/February magazine.

Written by Sarah Suydam, Staff Writer for Groups Today.

 


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