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Though Marcie Ellison Outerbridge, General Manager, Sales, Group Travel, Ellison Travel & Tours, officially joined her family business in 2004, her background in travel truly began in 1980 when her father started the company, known then as "It's a Small World Travel."

"Travel was a part of my life from then on, whether I was hopping on a day trip to Canada's Wonderland or joining a group trip with my Dad to NYC," Ellison Outerbridge explained. "My first job with Ellison was cleaning the office and eventually I worked there on Saturdays and in the summers."

While in college, Ellison Outerbridge hosted her first student remembrance tour to Europe. Later, she ended up moving to Vancouver and starting the Ellison Travel & Tours West Coast office.

"I was responsible for all of the group sales and operations for Western Canada and eventually have become more and more involved in the general operations/management of the company over the past 15 years," Ellison Outerbridge said. "I'm now taking over the business with my siblings, with my focus being on sales and group travel."

​​Ellison Outerbridge is honored to be able to "open hearts and minds through travel," the company's vision.

"The student and youth market has always been important to us, as they are the future and travel makes a major impact on their worldview," she said, noting her vast involvement with the Student and Youth Travel Association, in addition to being the first company in Canada to complete their Certified Student Tour Organization accreditation. "I know the more we can introduce youth to new cultures and experiences, the better the world will be in the long run."

From students taking the stage at Disneyland/Disneyworld and performing for the Pope at the Vatican, to small, adult all-women groups visiting an all-women craft cooperative enterprise in Kenya, Ellison Outerbridge is passionate about offering authentic and life-changing experiences to all.

"The impact travel has on our customers is a true highlight for me. Seeing travelers return home to see the world and their home through a fresh lens is very satisfying," she said. "I've enjoyed being in the tourism industry very much and it has given me more opportunities and satisfaction than I can recount."

When COVID-19 hit, Ellison Outerbridge says the technology they already had in place helped them navigate the unknown as seamlessly as possible. The company—which was recognized locally by the North Vancouver Chamber for service excellence—has since continued to invest more time into learning how to get the most out of technology moving forward to meet changing customer needs.

"Our entire company was behind this award and so the recognition was truly special."

Ellison Outerbridge advises those who are new to travel to be vulnerable, and to get involved with an industry association or volunteer group.

"No matter how much time we've been in the industry, we always get further if we admit we don't know an answer, are not sure of the outcome or ask for input and advice from others," she said. "There are so many benefits of not sitting on the sidelines of life."

DID YOU KNOW?

Outerbridge has an identical twin sister who lives nearby in Vancouver. In her late 40s, she took up training for sprint distance triathlons and completed her eighth race in October 2021.

Written by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor for Groups Today.

This article originally appeared in the Jan/Feb '22 issue of Groups Today.

 

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