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Creating Life-Changing Opportunities for Youth

Jennifer (Jen) Orvis was nominated as one of the 2018 Groups Today Top 10 Next Gens by readers for making a difference in the industry. Jen began her career in the vocal music classroom. Today, she serves as the Business Development Manager for Travel with Barb.


How did you become involved in the group travel industry, and what led you to your position as Business Development Manager at Travel with Barb?

I started working as a tour director for Barb Mock of Travel with Barb 17 years ago, during my summers off from teaching. I thoroughly enjoyed sharing exciting destinations with young travelers! During my down time, I would study the tour books in an attempt to learn about the inner workings and happenings at the office prior to my trips. The whole concept of planning and execution of a large trip was intriguing and exciting to me. In 2014, Barb decided to add a full time staff member to her team. At that point, I made the decision to step out of the music classroom and give the travel industry a try.

What makes you particularly passionate about the student travel industry?

In many cases, students who travel with us are leaving their community for the very first time. The opportunity to expose them to life and culture outside of their daily experience is something I cherish. To watch the trips come together on paper in our office over the course of the year, and then to see the students' reactions to those experiences and activities brings me great joy and satisfaction. Travel really does change young lives, and having the chance to help create those opportunities drives my passion.

What are your favorite destinations for student travelers?

There are so many wonderful student destinations from which to choose, but I absolutely love taking young travelers to New York City. Their reaction to the pace and excitement of Times Square, the way they embrace dining in Chinatown or shopping in Little Italy, the emotion they display during a visit to the National September 11th Memorial & Museum, their excitement upon seeing their first Broadway show—it all makes the hours of planning and preparation entirely worthwhile. The city reminds young people of the size and scope of our world and pushes them to dream beyond what they thought possible.

What is your most prized accomplishment in your career so far?

Being named one of the 2018 Groups Today Top 10 Next Gens is something in which I take great pride. To be honored among so many passionate and dedicated young leaders in our industry has been a wonderful and exciting development.

How do you hope to make a difference in the travel industry?

I hope to continue developing my passion for student travel through my involvement in organizations such as the Student & Youth Travel Association (SYTA) and SYTA Youth Foundation (SYF) and by networking and building relationships with like-minded individuals. I also hope to someday soon step into a leadership role in one of those organizations as they work to make the industry even stronger and more impactful than it is today. Finally, I will continue to work as part of a team that creates life-changing opportunities for young people.

Edited by Cassie Westrate, staff writer for Groups Today.

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