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2024 Next Gen: Gus Sheppard

2024 Next Gen: Gus Sheppard

Gus Sheppard is one of the 2024 Next Gens, as nominated by Groups Today readers for making a difference in the industry with his fresh, progressive perspective.

Gus Sheppard | Business Development, Travel With Barb (CSTO)

After completing his education at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Gus Sheppard knew opportunities to create impactful connections were a high priority. Today, as a Travel Planner with Travel With Barb (TWB), Sheppard gets to do just that by advocating for student travel's meaningful impact on young people.

"After an internship with Travel With Barb, and now, as a Travel Planner in the company, I can confidently say that opportunities to create connections are provided daily within this industry," Sheppard said. "Crafting shared experiences through travel and introducing people to a broader global perspective is remarkably rewarding."

Much like capturing "lightning in a bottle," Sheppard explains how you quickly notice that group travel offers a similar unique energy through the memories made and the lasting bonds created.

"These things survive well past the trip's end. I am grateful to be part of an industry that values and actively promotes opportunities for connections and impactful experiences," he said, noting he's most intrigued by the ever-evolving nature of group travel and the opportunity to innovate a group's experience. "The needs of our clients are always changing, and staying engaged with the trends of travel, and the interests of our traveling groups is what energizes me in my role."

While Sheppard wasn't yet working in the industry during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, he says the feedback, hesitancies, and shifting needs of travelers, traveling families and group leaders are present in his mind every day.

"Staying agile to the needs of our groups keeps me on my toes in the best way," he said.

Sheppard, who proudly serves as a soldier musician in the 43rd Army Band and assisted in TWB's recent CSTO designation, says his favorite industry accomplishment so far is completing his first full travel season.

"Collaborating with my first group from the initial booking all the way to the completion of their trip affirmed my passion for the process and the industry," Sheppard said. "It was gratifying to hear the group's fun travel stories and receive their feedback after the completed trip. Each day at the office, I feel inspired through collaboration with an office team that shares that same pride in providing an exceptional group travel experience."

Sheppard has a "growth mindset" approach to his work and collaboration with the TWB team and aims to foster human connection wherever he goes. Embracing life-long learning is a cornerstone of Sheppard's future goals.

"I believe in the saying, 'A goal without a plan is just a dream,' so setting and reaching milestones along the way to my goal drives me," he said. "My next milestone is to finalize my 'Certified Student Travel Professional' designation from the Student & Youth Travel Association."

On a personal note, Sheppard is also working toward his SCUBA certification, while gearing up for an exciting summer vacation.

"These milestones along the way keep me on track to be a better explorer and gain a broader perspective as a person."

Gus Sheppard is one of the 2024 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 feature.

Written by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor for Groups Today.


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