Industry professionals Kemi Wells of Wells Luxury Travel and McKenzie McMillan of The Travel Group are spearheading the new venture.
“After the closure of YTP, we continued fostering a local tourism network, however we recognized the opportunity in aligning with a larger entity and felt Millennials in Travel would be a perfect fit,” Wells said.
“The pandemic has greatly shifted networking and the ability to have a community, so we’re excited to build the Millennials in Travel brand and be the first outside of the United States,” McMillan continued.
To learn more about Millennials in Travel Vancouver and what the future holds, Travel Courier caught up with Wells and McMillan.
Wells: Over the years we have worked so hard to build and foster our community of young travel professionals. When the official global YTP brand shut down three years ago or so, we wanted to keep the group going so we simply changed our name to “Young Vancouver Travel Professionals” — as that’s truly what we are!
We still ran and managed our own events, thanks to support from hotels and tourism board partners. I had seen the Millennials in Travel community continue to strengthen across the US and I knew they had a solid structure with support and other resource tools so I thought it would help us by going under their umbrella. I think it will allow our community to feel well-connected across North America as well. MIT also have FAM and job opportunities, which I think our Vancouver community will appreciate.
Wells: The first and most important thing is to re-connect with our peers in Vancouver. Through the pandemic, some have sadly left the industry, others were furloughed for a prolonged amount of time, and others have just about survived keeping their existing jobs the whole time. One thing for certain is that the power of human connection remains, and it will be so great to get back to in-person events where we share our energy and passion for this industry we all love so much. We are looking for sponsors who want to connect and support Millennials in Travel and we hope to start with quarterly events from there and see how we go.
Wells: We are the future of the industry, truly. One key reason I was so keen to get involved with this cause when I first joined the industry in late 2014, was I quickly realized – especially in a management position – there were not many people of my age at the other events and conferences I attended. I noticed how so many people had been in this industry for 25+ years and all knew each other and shared stories from years ago. I wanted to ignite our own community, so we could start building our relationships and learn from each other. From a supplier partner perspective, I think the Millennial voice is a really important one to listen to, as we think differently and can share fresh perspectives.
McMillan: We want to ensure our demographic of travel professionals in Vancouver have a good support network, a sense of community, and an understanding of millennial consumer trends and interests to help build and foster their talents moving forward.
Wells: In 2020 we did a number of community Zoom calls to stay connected, and we have our Facebook group, however, I will admit our connection has weakened over the past 12 months, so we are hoping this news and new chapter will help to re-connect our community and hopefully attract new people to join us as well!
McMillan: We are seeing a resurgence in interest in utilizing travel professionals to guide consumers through the web of new rules and travel regulations in this post-pandemic world, and with that, we are seeing not only millennials become one of the largest emerging consumer markets, but also will become the dominant demographic of new travel professionals.
Wells: Luxury travel is definitely on the up. The demand is there. Prices are increasing dramatically, availability can be challenging, but I find many affluent clients are willing to pay it. We’re finding clients are wanting to stay longer, splurge on nicer accommodation and also work with a travel professional to handle all of the small details. Clients are definitely paying me (and are happy to) for more concierge style requests as they want the entire trip taken care of. I have had a lot of interest in Europe this summer and into fall, and now it is about encouraging clients to really start booking and locking in 2022 and 2023. I also have been working on a number of group trips, both personal and corporate/incentive. People want to reconnect with people, in a safe but amazing way.
Wells: Thanks so much – nine months in – I can’t quite believe it, but things are going amazingly, I am relieved and thrilled to admit. I am staying true to my new business model of charging upfront fees – charging by the hour and only taking luxury forward bookings. I have a steady stream of new leads and great referrals and it has been so rewarding to already have facilitated incredible trips for my clients this year. Finding balance is the hardest; juggling client demands, pandemic restrictions, supporting a team and being on the road a lot for work, as well as my varying industry commitments, but I know it will all pay off in the long run!