Educational travel is fun, and so should be planning an educational tour. ACIS International Program Consultants partner with teachers to help them choose or customize a trip, recruit a group and prepare for the amazing adventure ahead. Meet Beth Pfohl, one our amazing consultants whose love of travel began with an ACIS trip of her own.
Tell us about yourself. What’s your role at ACIS?
I’m an International Program Consultant working with a mix of northern and southern states! Though, truthfully, I think “International Program Consultant” is a mouthful, so I prefer Travel Advisor or Beth of All Trades. I love that in my role I work with all different kinds of group leaders, from those thinking about travel for the first time, to veterans who take tours every year! It definitely keeps me on my toes, but I love the challenge! Oh and I also work with our individual travelers on fixed-date trips!
ACIS has long said ‘travel changes lives.’ You understand this! Tell us about your travel history.
I always like to joke that I am the poster child for how travel changes lives, and more specifically how travel with ACIS changes lives. Growing up, my family went on vacation to Canada and the Bahamas, but my first time overseas was on my high school trip to France with ACIS. My French teacher organized tours for the French Club, and back in 2014, I set foot in Paris. From that moment, everything was different! I came back from my trip and immediately informed my parents that I would be studying abroad in college. So from there, I chose Miami University (Ohio) because the school made study abroad a priority. That lead to a January term spent in London and a full semester spent in Luxembourg. After returning from Luxembourg, I couldn’t get the travel itch out of my system, and it was only half a year before I ended up back at ACIS, this time as an employee rather than a student traveler! It’s wild to me that educational travel literally changed my life so fully that it changed my career path completely! And of course, just working in travel still wasn’t enough for me, so I also serve on the alumni advisory board for the campus where I spent my time in Luxembourg. They say the flap of a butterfly’s wing…
I love that. And now you work with teachers to help them change their students lives. How do you help ensure they have the best trip possible?
Trust! First and foremost, my group leaders have to know that they can trust me. Group travel works best when there is a partnership; and I would highly recommend against any kind of partner you can’t trust in both the easy situations and the difficult ones. I love being a trusted partner for my group leaders and teachers. I want them to come to me with any and all questions, even if they think the question is silly, and know that I am going to take that question seriously. After all, travel works best when all your ducks are in a row! This level of trust also lets my teachers know that they can come to me with any feedback. If it’s good news, I will celebrate alongside them. If it’s not such great news, I will see what I can do to help make the situation more positive. None of this is possible without a good foundation of trust!
What’s a planning tip you always give to teachers?
It is never ever too early to start working on getting passports! Before I was in this role with ACIS, I was on our intern team, and one of my jobs was to chase down missing passports. There is nothing that diminishes the excitement of upcoming travel quite like waiting on a delayed passport.
And what about a tip related to travel itself?
I’m a firm believer that the best travel memories are not the photos with famous landmarks. Instead the best memories come from time spent with locals, engaging in their culture. So take every chance you have to start up a conversation with the bakery owner on that back street in London or the ticket taker at the Colosseum! Those are the memories that will last longer than the photos of the sparkling Eiffel Tower! Oh, and eat all the delicious food you can get your hands on. Travel calories don’t count!
Yes, absolutely. Meet the people and eat the food.
Exactly. And, I love meeting up with my teachers and group leaders (and interested teachers and group leaders) whenever I am traveling or someone is visiting Boston. The best tours are the ones where your personality is considered and included in the planning process. And phone calls and Zoom are great, but there is no better way to get to know someone than shaking a hand in person!
Thanks Beth! Your love of getting to know your teachers so you can be their best partner and advocate is just one of the reasons your group leaders love you so much.