Sessions - SYTA AC 2018
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General Sessions

Safety Forum
Saturday, August 26
9:00 AM – 11:30 AM

Education Sessions

Members tell us one of the most important reasons for attending the Annual Conference are the education sessions. Speakers include professional speakers, industry experts, and association leaders.

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Session Topics and Speakers


3:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Broadway Classroom Workshop, presented by Group Sales Box Office at

Experience Broadway like never before with a special SYTA Education Session and see for yourself why BROADWAY CLASSROOM is “a must” for all of your groups! Taught by a member of the creative team from the Broadway production of SUMMER: THE DONNA SUMMER MUSICAL, you’ll learn choreography inspired by the Disco Diva herself, Donna Summer. Once you finish the “last dance”, you’ll get up close and personal in a one-on-one discussion and have a chance to ask questions about the production, creative process,and anything else that comes to mind related to SUMMER:THE DONNA SUMMER MUSICAL.


1:30 PM – 2:30 PM

Fundamentals of Crisis Assistance for Travelers and Families
Sue Warner Bean, Principal, Crisis Response Strategist
Ken Jenkins, Principal, Crisis Response Strategist
NavAid Crisis Consulting Group

When a critical incident occurs affecting one or more of your travelers, who addresses the needs of the affected youth, trip leaders,and their families/caregivers? What information and assistance do the affected individuals need, who provides it, and how? Which agencies and organizations respond? What is their role, what is your role, and how do you work together? This session explores the answers to these questions and more by examining timelines, key milestones,and organizations involved in meeting the needs of families/caregivers and survivors in a critical incident response.

2:45 PM – 3:45 PM

Tongue-Tied: Navigating Difficult Conversations and Communicating Effectively with Friends, Relatives, and Affected Populations
Sue Warner-Bean, Principal, Crisis Response Strategist
Ken Jenkins, Principal, Crisis Response Strategist
NavAid Crisis Consulting Group

In your role as a travel organizer or provider, at some point you maybe in the position of talking with people when something goes wrong. Communication may be one-on-one, with small groups, or in a formal briefing. During crisis, what is said and how the message is conveyed are the foundations of effective communication with affected individuals, the community, and the public – yet few people have experience or training in the critical skill of compassionate,candid crisis communications. This session discusses message delivery in one-on-one conversations and group briefings, explores strategies for effective communications, and equips participants with simple methods for saying the right things — even the hard things— in the right ways.

3:00 PM – 4:00 PM

Being Ready for the Unexpected While Visiting the 2018 Top Student Destination
Nick Breul (MPDC Ret)
Director of Security
National Law Enforcement Museum

Whether you are leading a student group or your family, you’ll learn how to respond in an emergency at many of Washington DC’s iconic attractions.  Nick Breul will share real life scenarios and techniques for navigating situations that may arise while enjoying your trip to Washington DC.  In this session you’ll also learn how first responders and local agencies work together to guide you through an emergency situation.  Attendees will learn valuable information to help guide their customers, train their staff or just develop the questions you need to ask your staff about how your destination or attraction handles similar situations.

4:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Certified Student Tour Organization (CSTO) Preview
Mike Bowers, Founder & CEO
The Center for Student Safety

In this session, Michael Bowers, Center For Student Travel Safety will provide a preview of the new student travel company certification program that SYTA is developing with CSTS to provide consistent and effective practices for the industry. This new program lays the Foundation for a new CSTP program that will educate and train student travel professionals in the new standards.Although the first phase of the program is for tour operators,suppliers and service providers are encouraged to attend the session and see how they will be asked to support their tour operator clients.


8:30 AM – 9:30 AM

Forensic Pathology Workshop
Julie Bell, Manager of School Programs
Alyssa Foley, Manager of Adult and Family Programs
National Law Enforcement Museum

If you’ve ever wanted to be on CSI, come experience this workshop where you’ll take on the role of a medical examiner by learning how to determine the cause, manner, and mechanism of death. This is an actual workshop offered to students grade 6-12 at the museum.

9:45 AM – 10:45 AM

Word Crimes and Digital Blunders
Amy Wescott 
Owner, Polish Writing & Editing

Little things make a big difference in whether your writing will be received and responded to as you intend. This session will explore the top “word crimes” writers commit (and how to fix them!) and how to write email that will be easy to understand and hard to ignore.

1:45 PM – 2:45 PM

Understanding the New GDPR for Travel Companies
Jeff Ment, Esq
Founder, The Ment Law Firm

Jeff will be returning to the SYTA Annual Conference and presenting a session on GDPR which is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) regulation, an EU law on data protection and privacy for all individuals within the European Union.

3:00 PM – 4:00 PM

Real Media Literacy for a Fake News World
Barb McCormack
Vice President of Education, Newseum

An intensive exploration of today’s news and information landscape that empowers participants to evaluate media content and their own media consumption habits.

This interactive, hour-long program introduces the challenges facing news consumers around the globe and shares strategies to begin tackling them. Real-life examples of surprising and false news stories selected to resonate with the audience become the basis to put these flexible strategies into practice.

3:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Fingerprints and Impressions
Julie Bell, Manager of School Programs
Alyssa Foley, Manager of Adult and Family Programs
National Law Enforcement Museum

Attendees will solve an art theft mystery by learning the basics of fingerprinting and shoe impressions using the tools of real life CSIs to collect evidence and analyze it to find the thief. This is an actual workshop offered to students grade 6-12 at the museum.

4:15 PM – 5:15 PM

The Power of a Polished Message
Amy Wescott 
Owner, Polish Writing & Editing

A polished message is powerful. Whether you are communicating with customers, clients, volunteers, or co-workers, your message makes a difference in your company’s success. This session explores what a polished message is (and what it isn’t!), examines common pitfalls to polished messaging, challenges you to evaluate your current messages, and offers tips for making your message more powerful.


8:00 AM – 8:45 AM
Tour Operator Forum
Tour operators are invited to share their challenges and opportunities with SYTA President, Marc Reiter and Vice President, Justin Shuler. Coffee and light breakfast provided.

9:00 AM – 10:00 AM

Tourism Cares: The Meaningful Travel Map to Jordan
Paula Vlamings, CEO, Tourism Cares
Samer Abu-Taleb, Trade Partnerships & Digital Marketing Manager, Jordan Tourism Board

In February 2018, an extraordinary event in the world of travel and social impact brought together an accomplished group of industry leaders to explore the power of tourism to drive positive social change. Learn how you can integrate positive impact into your business model, for deeper client experiences, and a positive impact on the destinations we all depend on.

9:00 AM – 10:00 AM and 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM

Enriching Travel Experiences with Experiential Learning: Examples from Washington DC
Stuart Levy, MBA, PhD
Associate Teaching Professor of Management, George Washington University School of Business

What can tour operators and suppliers do to make visitor experiences more engaging, memorable, and meaningful? In this interactive workshop, Stuart discusses ways in which experiential learning can be infused in the group travel product. Utilizing Washington DC as a destination case study, Stuart shares good practices, methods and insights that attendees can use to create a more enriching experience for their customers.

10:15 AM – 11:15 AM

Ensuring a Successful Tour
Ellen Malasky, President, NFTGA
Joan Keddell, President, ITMI

The National Federation of Tourist Guide Associations and its 19-member organizations provide training, continuing professional education and in many cases, certification for local guides and tour leaders. Representatives from ITMI and NFTGA will discuss the advantages of hiring professionally trained guides with the skills to successfully lead groups and the expertise to deal with the unexpected. It will also include information about local regulations and the 19 NFTGA member associations.

Multi-media Storytelling Training
Daniel Dozier, Director, Students of the World
Courtney Spence, Founder and Executive Director, Students of the World

We expand empathy and empower young people to build bridges, uplift voices, and create positive change by harnessing the power of storytelling. We have traveled to over 40 countries telling hundreds of stories, from environmental resilience, to human rights, global education, workforce development and more. Learn how to teach participating students pre-departure about storytelling and generate unique content and powerful direct word of mouth marketing materials; curate a multimedia ecosystem that generates and shares this organic content creation; leverage awareness and convert new leads into a community and movement that remains actively engaged moving forward.

3:30 PM – 4:30 PM

Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA)  2018 – How it Affects Your Businesses and Individuals
William J. Caldwell, CPA, CEO, Caldwell & Companies CPAs

Facilitated by: Lisa S. Curtin, CFO, Caldwell & Companies CPAs

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act 2018 is the most sweeping tax reform since 1986. This seminar will focus on the highlights of the 2018 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. During this presentation you will gain an understanding of how the legislation affects you as a business owner, as well as an individual. It’s not too late to make changes in your business now that will improve your 2018 tax situation. Even if you participated in the TCJA Webinar that was offered to SYTA members this past February, attending this seminar will provide a deeper understanding of the changes. Ample time will be allowed for Q&A.

4:45 PM – 5:45 PM

Business Succession Planning
William J. Caldwell, CPA, CEO, Caldwell & Companies CPAs
Bradley Troy, Senior Vice President, First Financial Group
Facilitated by: Lisa S. Curtin, COO, Caldwell & Companies CPAs

Planning for the future is essential for your business. This is especially true for small and family-owned businesses. Succession planning is an ongoing process and especially key in the 3-5 years prior to selling or transitioning your business from founder to second generation.In this session will also discuss Captive Insurance companies. A Captive Insurance company is a property and casualty insurance company established to provide coverage primarily for a parent company you own, (i.e. your tour company, attraction, restaurant). Captive Insurance companies are established to provide coverage not otherwise available or to allow the parent company to capture overhead, profit and other capital which would normally transfer to another insurance carrier.



SYTA Strategic Partners