Conference Home    |    SYTA Home


General Session & Keynotes

Teach and Travel, the Dynamic Partnership Between Educators and Travel Providers

General Session & Panel Discussion
Sunday, August 27th, 10:00 AM – 11:15 AM

SYTA members are committed partners in changing the lives of students through travel by enhancing the classroom experience and augmenting curricular needs. This panel discussion will help travel providers and field trip destinations connect with the next generation educator to improve communication, itineraries and business models that meet the social studies classroom teacher’s local, regional and overnight field trip needs. Hear directly from the president of the National Council for the Social Studies and other classroom teachers as they describe the current education landscape and trends impacting the social studies teacher and field trip planning needs. Attendees may submit questions in advance of the program. Please email Lisa Berretta at

Facilitator: Barbara McCormack, Newseum
Panel: Peggy Jackson, President, National Social Studies Association and an Educator, Moriarity High School, Moriarity, NM

Why a Winning Tourism Strategy Offers the Best Offense and Defense in Today’s Changing Times

General Session and Keynote Speaker
Monday, August 28th, 9:30 AM – 10:30 AM

Doug Lansky, leading travel industry writer and speaker will speak on innovative best-practice solutions to many of the key issues impacting the student travel industry including safety and terrorism and understanding the perception vs the reality. He will help tourism companies learn how to respond to messaging that says it’s not safe to travel.

“Doug hit a Grand Slam with his presentation at our annual conference. He engaged with our folks and participated in our sessions. his closing talk encapsulated two days of sessions and speakers and wrapped up our conference perfectly.” – Bill Lupfer, President, CEO, Florida Attractions Association

Click here to learn more about Doug Lansky.

Education Sessions

Music Education 101: A Guide to School Music Programs

Friday, August 25th, 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM

This session is for those without a music background better understand the terminologies, structure, content and typical calendar of a school music program. Gain the ability to have more productive, intelligent conversations with clients and be better able to anticipate client needs in the planning process. It may also provide insight into the mindset of music teachers in order to better understand what is important to them.

Speaker: Tom Merrill, Festivals of Music/Music in the Park

Safety Preparedness and Crises Communications

Saturday, August 26th, 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM & Sunday, August 27th, 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM

SYTA’s excited to announce the Safety Preparedness Handbook will be launched at this year’s annual conference. This handbook will provide members with a strategic and comprehensive guide that covers safety preparation and risk mitigation. At the same time, it will also provide protocols, crisis communication planning guidelines and responses to ensure that in the event of a crisis or serious incident, SYTA members will be prepared, well in advance, to mitigate the potential harmful reputational and operational impact of a serious crisis.

Speaker: David Norman, Kitchen Public Relations

Travel Insurance: How Are Today’s Turbulent Times Changing the Insurance We Offer Our Customers?

Sunday, August 27th, 8:30 AM – 9:45 AM

A panel of representatives from leading travel insurance companies will explain the difference aspects of today’s travel insurance as well as new regulatory changes.

Speakers: Bud Geissler, Travel Insured International Inc., Jesper Lykke, Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection, and Greg Takehara, Trip Mate, Inc.

AIANTA: Understanding Native American Culture and Tourism

Saturday, August 26th, 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM

This session provides an authentic perspective into American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian tourism that honors traditions and values and provides unique travel opportunities for students, adults and families.

AIANTA is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit association of Native American tribes and tribal businesses, organized in 1999, to advance Indian Country tourism. The association is made up of member tribes from six regions: Eastern, Plains, Midwest, Southwest, Pacific and Alaska.

SYTA Youth Foundation (SYF) Information Session

Saturday, August 26th, 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM

Come hear more about SYTA’s philanthropic arm, the SYTA Youth Foundation. Learn about the mission, the types of Scholarships offered, Running for Youth, and how you and your organization can become more involved.

Broadway Workshop presented by Group Sales Box Office/

Sunday, August 27th, 8:30 AM – 9:45 AM

Since 1998, more than 500,000 people have participated in this exceptional program, which combines a Broadway show with a unique, interactive workshop. Broadway Classroom is the industry leader in providing arts and educational experiences. Offering 17 unique workshops, Broadway Classroom will complete your group’s itinerary with an experience they will remember for years to come. Workshops are customized to the specific interests and abilities of attendees and students of all ages are encouraged to participate.

This session will give participants the opportunity to experience a Broadway Classroom workshop for themselves.

Technology: Changes in Technology Ranks as Top Challenge for SYTA Members

Sunday, August 27th, 8:30 AM – 9:45 AM

An annual conference favorite, this session will explore new technology platforms, software, apps and other advances that will improve your business.

Speaker: John Kamm, Adatasol, Inc., TourTools Solutions

Tour Operator Forum

Monday, August 28th, 8:00 AM – 9:00 AM

Facilitated discussion with active members on opportunities and challenges facing student tour operators today and in the future

Facilitator: Tami Rogers, Bob Rogers Travel

 Global Travel: How Doing Good is Changing Young Lives Through Travel

Monday, August 28th, 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM

Jeff Peterson, Founder of Global Travel Alliance and Global Doing Good, will discuss his service and adventure programs for middle and high school students.   Designing and providing impactful service trips is not easy, but if done well can truly provide life-changing experiences.  Topics will include:  What are some realistic goals to set and effective strategies/models to use?  How can groups help without hurting?  What is a reasonable, and honest, definition of an “authentic experience”?  What are the pitfalls to avoid?  How can adventure and education be successfully integrated into the trip experience?  How can service trips help your company?

Speaker: Jeff Peterson, Global Travel Alliance

Tour Operator Panels and Discussions

Saturday, August 26th: Non-DMO/Non-Receptive Operators
Monday, August 28th: DMO/Receptive Operators

Teams of tour operators representing education, performance, and international travel will answer a series of questions frequently asked by suppliers that will help them understand their customers and save time during appointments. Tour operator teams will rotate every 20 minutes.

Strategic Partners