How Technology Enhances the Group Travel Experience, with Bud Geissler

Episode 277

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Bud Geissler is the Vice President of Business Development and Sales at Group Collect. As a brand ambassador for student travel and Travel Insurance, he recently celebrated 25 years in the group travel industry. Bud served as President of the Student Youth Travel Association from 2011-2012 and was the Chair of the SYTA Youth Foundation’s Board of Trustees. Bud was also the National Account Manager at Travel Insured International before moving to Group Collect.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Bud Geissler about his experience in student and youth group travel, and I was moved by his insights into the importance of the travel experience for young people. We also dive into how technology is making the tourist business not only more streamlined and efficient but overall more pleasant and enjoyable for everyone involved.

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • Bud’s experience as a student tour operator looking after groups traveling all over the USA
  • How the use of technology in the tour and travel market has evolved over the past two years
  • What technology can do to improve people’s experience of a destination
  • The app that Bud is currently working on to enhance the on-the-ground group travel experience by giving them space to create the memories and to enjoy what’s around them without worrying about the logistics of their trip
  • How having the mobile ability to access travel documents will streamline processes
  • How technology can facilitate a direct connection between the consumer and the group travel agent
  • How technology can provide a direct channel for future marketing and trip feedback
  • Why using a dedicated app can help by ensuring you have a consistent brand leaving your organization
  • Why the group travel segment buying cycle is so different than the retail buying experience
  • Challenges that Bud is seeing bubbling up right now in the group travel industry

How Technology Improves the Group Travel Experience

Technology — half the time, it frustrates the heck out of us, and half the time, it simplifies our lives. But the last two years have demonstrated just how significant a role technology can play in the planning and implementing of an excellent travel experience. Leveraging technology for group travel may not seem intuitive at first, but as this week’s guest Bud Geissler explains, once you jump on board, you’ll realize how valuable and user-friendly up-to-date technology can be in streamlining the travel experience.

Bud describes where he sees the future for making connections in the group travel industry that provide travelers with an enhanced experience and travel marketers with an opportunity for direct marketing.

Streamlining Processes

Bud describes how when pandemic restrictions lifted, tour operators went from zero sales to 100% sales in a three-month period and how his company was able to support tour operators to launch their products and access operations systems support from a technology standpoint.

Nicole and Bud discuss how the software being built by Group Collect not only gives access to a landing page for registration, but it also allows the traveler to register to sign documents, ask questions, and get important information such as where the local hospital is or how to get medication while they’re on the road. There is no longer a gatekeeper in charge of ensuring that the travel insurance products or information gets down downstream to every traveler in the group because the whole process is automated.

The Importance of Travel to Young People

Bud also shares his thoughts on why student travel is a way to change a young person’s life. He explains his philosophy that student travel connects curriculum to reality, practice to performance, and classrooms to careers. So when any young person has the opportunity to travel, they are gaining life-changing opportunities at a time when there’s so much struggle and challenge in our society it’s a gift.


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