November 7, 2019
As announced in the last few months, the BOG (Board of Governors) of the IAA has launched two new committees to rejuvenate the role our alumni association plays in the lives on alumni: the travel and the future committee. This first mini interview with T, the new IAA president, introduces the travel committee while looking at why it was important to form this group.
IAA: You have established a new special committee called the travel committee. Why?
T, IAA President: Well, we have been doing a lot of thinking about the future of the alumni association and how it can do more to connect alumni and offer things beyond the annual reunion. What we have found in talking to folks and hearing about their UWP experience, is the one thing they valued about their time in UWP, besides their castmates, was the travel.
So, we formed a committee to look at whether we can play a role in helping alumni travel together in the future.
IAA: So what will the committee be doing?
T: The committee will be charged with looking at all aspects of alumni travel.
First, is there a way to offer alumni trips to various parts of the world just for the travel experience? People take trips all the time, and even though UWP alumni are pretty good at introducing themselves and meeting new people, wouldn’t it be great to go on a trip with fellow alumni from many periods. You know, travel with a group where you already share a common interest? Then there is not much need to go beyond, “Hi, my name is ‘T’ and I traveled with ‘68 and ‘69B, you?”
There would be a great comfort level there….plus, I am sure at some point singing and dancing would come into it as well. This is what the committee will be charged to look at first. I mean, we have lots of alums who take groups to different places. Would they volunteer their time to lead a group to, say, Cuba for a few days? Or Japan? Or somewhere in Africa? Pick a place. But let’s see what we can find and go from there.
Second, when the new IAA future committee takes a look into what the alumni association should look like and do in the future, what elements of travel can the new travel committee look at and help them with? Can we get reunion flight discounts or help get discounts for flights to mini reunions? There are lots of questions…it’s time to find some answers.
Third, is an Up with People travel club a possibility? Are there benefits that might help with cheaper rooms and cheaper flights? Can we tie in a “stay with a fellow alum at their house” experience into the travelling? How do we do that? How do we protect privacy? Currently, there is an informal list of people who have offered to be permanent host families for fellow alums, but we can’t post the list on our social media because of privacy laws, particularly in Europe. There is also a new unofficial alumni site offering house swaps. Can we and how do we help with these two great ideas?
Finally, can we find enough volunteers to have a consistent, global travel program that we are sure can stand on its own two feet?
These are the things I am hoping the committee will look at and provide a way ahead.
IAA: Up with People currently runs an ‘eXperience’ program. Won’t this compete?
T: No, the eXperience program is designed to provide a tour for alumni to an area where the current UWP cast is located and provide sightseeing as well as cast engagement. Our program will look more at the independent travel many people take now through country tours, cruises, etc.…but this program would set them up with groups of fellow alumni travelling together, rather than with any random group that a travel agency puts together.
T: Good question. Quickly, I hope. We would like to determine if the idea is feasible as soon as possible, then run some “proof of concept” trips in 2020. That means making some recommendations soonest in regard to concept, ideas, logistics, how to advertise, the association’s role in sponsoring the trip…and any other thoughts alumni or the committee can suggest. As this is new, we are open to all ideas.
IAA: So, if an alum wants to join the committee or just offer input, how should they do that?
T: Send a note to email@example.com. Skip Searcy is the committee chair and he will make the determination of committee size, but I know he certainly would like everyone’s thoughts.