Emma Impavido reflects on how satisfying she finds her job as Program Manager, even in difficult economic times. ATA’s team of Program Managers are responsible for designing and operating ATA’s tours for its non-profit clients. Emma is ATA’s senior Program Manager for Italy, Greece and U.K. programs.
I am increasingly reflective about why I like my job as a program manager and why I think the travel industry will survive the current global economic crisis.
I have been creating enticing cultural group tours to Italy, Greece and UK for nearly 15 years, 8 of which I have been with ATA. (And I am one of the newer members to the department!) I enjoy putting itineraries together because I love being transported to a destination on a daily basis. There is excitement in designing a new culinary tour to Sicily; the need for a solution when dealing with an unexpected museum closure and there are decisions to make when analyzing what I can remove from the program to keep the costs down while still maintaining a first class educational journey.
Travel planning is in my blood. Friends and family are forever asking me (a Brit) for advice on where to stay or eat when traveling to Italy, and not my Italian husband! Many of us at ATA have this passion about travel and are sources of knowledge about the different regions of the world in which we operate.
But for those behind the scenes, travel is not always the glamorous job of jet setting around the world to check out elegant hotels and fine restaurants. When times are good there are still the issues that keep us on our toes: uprisings in Mongolia, a broken pelvis in Athens, a sick traveler on a Trans Siberian rail journey, not to mention the lost luggage and travel delays. These are perhaps nothing compared to the challenges the travel industry will face in 2009, but they are truly typical examples of what we encounter day to day.
Travel is the first luxury to go when finances are tight, but I am confident that people will still look to travel planners and travel agents, each experts in their own field, to assist with their travel decisions.
In this age of modern technology anyone can book a flight, hotel and rental car and have the basics for a vacation. Even I thought I could book a last minute family getaway to the beach recently on my own. Despite my husband and I being on the telephone simultaneously with different airlines and travel providers (and checking out different travel websites at the same time) we watched flight availability disappear before our eyes. Yes, people are looking for discounts but they are obviously still interested in traveling. This is encouraging. Gone are the days, perhaps, when people made plans months in advance, which is why we continue to see a rise in late bookings. In the end, a local travel agent was able to book a package to the beach for me and my family, cheaper than I could put the parts together myself. Trust the experts, I thought. They know the family beach package deals, and I don’t!
At ATA we are experts in sophisticated worldwide cultural group journeys. We also do so much more. Apart from the first class customer service, our tours are unique – they provide special access to historical sites that are either not normally open to the public or are opened at exclusive times for our group. Each of our tours is led by an expert leader and an elegant and organized tour manager that make for a hassle free experience. Individuals would be hard pressed to put this caliber of experience together on their own.
Discerning travelers will continue to look for life changing experiences to discover the world, and I hope they will seek out our expert knowledge and experience. We may have to amend our budgets, and some creative ideas will have to be curtailed (what not to include is always the greatest challenge on any itinerary ) but that’s what keeps the job of a Program Manager so interesting. This is a difficult time, but as challenging times often do, it brings home why I love this job and the experiences we create.
Senior Program Manager
Academic Travel Abraod