Like most travel planners, Jennifer Deutsch, director of operations at Educational Travel Adventures (ETA) is anxiously anticipating the return of student group tours. Established in 1991, ETA, based in Freehold, New Jersey, focuses on the educational and performance tour market, offering customized group tours for high school, middle school and university groups. Deutsch has spent the past several months gathering information from suppliers, educating herself on new protocols and preparing for when the schools feel it’s safe to travel. She will be ready!
Q. What about student/youth travel is important to the company?
A. Travel has an immense impact on the way people view the world. Everyone at ETA recognizes this and is passionate about working with educators to bring the classroom to life and provide life-changing experiences for young people.
Q. What types of services are offered?
A. ETA offers educational tours, performance tours and short-term faculty led programs. Our team of experienced travelers works with educators of all disciplines including the performing arts to put together customized programs all over the world. Our performance tours often include opportunities to compete, perform in public venues and to participate in master classes. Our comprehensive online system allows group leaders to manage their group online. It also allows students and parents to register and make payments online.
Q. What advice would you give to group travel planners wanting to work with the youth travel market?
A. When things are open again, travel to the destinations you want to sell and visit the sites. Make sure you experience things and try to see them from the point of view of the educators and students that will visit them. Look at joining the Student & Youth Travel Association (SYTA) so that you can connect with those in the industry and educate yourself on what there is out there to offer your clients. Build relationships with your clients as well as your suppliers. You’re hoping to work with these people for many, many trips. All of those relationships will help you build your business.
Q. Who typically coordinates youth travel — educators, parents or others?
A. It depends upon the type of group. More often than not, we’re working with educators. Sometimes a parent is in charge of the trip but usually the teacher, music director or even an administrator is in charge of the trip.
Q. What are your best travel tips for educators and parents?
A. Remember that the trip is about the students and enriching their lives. Every student on that trip should have an amazing experience that they will remember for the rest of their lives. If you focus on that and watch it as it happens, it will also be an experience that YOU will never forget for the rest of your life.
Q. What makes you proud of Educational Travel Adventures?
A. I’ve been a part of ETA since almost the very beginning, and I’ve watched the company grow exponentially through the years. One of the things that hasn’t changed is our commitment to our customers to customize every tour and make sure that students get an experience they’ll never forget. Another thing that makes me very proud is that every year, ETA produces a show on Broadway at the Gershwin Theatre called “Arts for Autism.” It’s a benefit for Autism Speaks, where student performers from around the country come to NYC. They see Wicked and the next day get to perform on that very same stage alongside Broadway performers that are donating their time. It’s a powerful show and inspiring. There are always students with autism who are spotlighted who talk about their own experiences and how music and theater help them to be who they are. It’s such a good feeling to be a part of those moments.
Q. Tell me about your favorite tour and what made it special.
A. My favorite tour was one of the first I ever did in New York City. I’ve lived my whole life in New Jersey and both of my parents are originally from New York City. I grew up going on family and school trips to the city, so I was used to it. I was with a group of eighth-graders and most of them had never been out of their own state before. Their first night, we came out of the subway in Times Square. The look of awe on their faces as they saw the lights and all of the people was incredible. That whole trip, I kept seeing places that I took for granted through their eyes for the first time. It was an amazing experience and made me realize why what we do is so important. Those kids will remember that trip for the rest of their lives.
Q. What is your favorite travel app?
A. I love Waze. I do a lot of road trips with my family because both of my boys play ice hockey. Waze always gets me to my destination and helps me avoid construction and accidents on the roads. I also like to play with the voices. It was fun to have Cookie Monster telling me that there was a police officer up ahead and I should ask if they want a cookie.
Educational Travel Adventures