Sports Travel and Tours President Jay Smith
Sixteen years ago, Jay Smith was looking for a way to give back to the travel industry. He had created Sports Travel and Tours just a few years earlier and found the business of helping sports fans fulfill their traveling dreams to be both successful and personally rewarding. How, he wondered, could he support the industry as it had supported him in achieving his career goals?
Jay decided that becoming involved with the National Tour Association was exactly the answer he had been looking for. NTA, which was founded in 1951, has gained a reputation as the leading business-building association for professionals serving customers traveling to, from and within North America.
After attending his first NTA conference in Salt Lake City in 2000, Jay discovered that not only would the organization allow him to give back to the industry he had made a career in, but it allowed him to connect with others who shared his passion.
“Spending time within my peer group at a bigger, higher level was appealing,” Jay says of his decision. “By involving myself in the industry, it allowed me the opportunity to meet more business owners, leaders and industry professionals that I might not have met otherwise.”
In the beginning, Jay served on leadership committees and task forces, on which he lent his opinion on large decisions affecting the organization, such as computer and technology sourcing, for example.
Four years ago, he was selected by the NTA’s incoming chair to serve on the board of directors, and since then has served as a director-at-large and as secretary. This year, Jay was named vice chair of the executive board for the board of directors.
Being a board member requires that Jay attend meetings three to four times each year, as well as participate in conference calls in between, as he says board members are from many different geographical regions. Additionally, he participates in the NTA’s annual conference, held routinely between November and February each year, and the smaller CONTACT Conference held in August.
Certainly, Jay’s devotion to the travel industry keeps him traveling himself, with upcoming trips to Grand Rapids, Michigan and Quebec City, among others. A trip to Washington, D.C. could be on the schedule as well, Jay says, as some board members attend a summit in March called Destination Capitol Hill.
“Destination Capital Hill is a gathering of travel industry professionals from numerous associations that converge on the capitol for a day and a half,” Jay explains. “We lobby for certain areas of the travel industry that present important issues such as airport infrastructure, investment in aviation, visa waiver programs that will boost our economy, and enhanced national security.”
As vice chair of the executive board, Jay intends to continue to embrace his decades-long commitment to being “a part of the larger whole,” giving back to the travel industry through supporting and helping others.
“Our association has made some major changes over the past few years, and I would like to see my term serving the membership and continuing to make the needed changes in 2016 and beyond,” Jay says. “It is an exciting time in the travel world, and I find being a part of the industry in a bigger place to be both engaging and rewarding.”
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