Editor's Note: Originally published on April 13, 2016, this blog post was updated with current information on July 17, 2020.
Matt Bartling is a business development manager at Brightspark Travel and is responsible for inspiring new groups to embark on student travel adventures.
We decided to sit down with Matt to learn a little bit more about what makes him tick. To learn more about Matt, keep reading!
Q: How long have you been at Brightspark Travel?
A: October 2020 will be 13 years.
Q: How did you get into the student travel industry?
A: When I was in college, my roommate talked me into studying abroad in Ireland for a summer semester, which ignited that desire to learn more in person. Upon graduating from university, I moved to London — worked and traveled around Europe. Returning from Europe, I began working for a software company in Chicago, and it just wasn’t satisfying or something I wanted to continue doing. I decided to move to Japan and teach English; it was there that I learned to love teaching and traveling. Both of my parents were teachers, as well as some of my grandparents, so that felt natural. Being able to open up the world to the students was amazing. When I returned to the states, I knew I had to find a career that gave back to the students what I received from traveling, which led me to this company and industry.
Q: Before working at Brightspark, what was the most unusual/interesting job you’ve ever had?
A: When I was 10 years old, I worked for a summer detasseling corn — you would remove the tassel from the corn so that it would allow the corn to pollinate. You would start working at 5 a.m., and it was cold and wet, and we didn’t stop working until around noon, when it was hot and wet. You literally walked up and down cornfields all day manually doing this.
Q: What’s your favorite part about what you do?
A: Opening up the world to students and working with so many amazing teachers, parents and students from all over!
Q: What’s the most challenging part of your job?
A: To stop working. When you are passionate about something it’s hard to stop and take a break.
Q: Are you seeing any new trends in the travel industry?
A: I find that groups are more interested in spending meaningful time at sites and that the students already know a lot about where they are going by the easy access to information. It’s amazing that we have all the information we need at the tips of our fingers, and this makes travel so much more rewarding. You can literally learn whatever you need to know about a specific site while you are standing there, for example the Jefferson Memorial.
Q: What tips do you have for teachers traveling with students?
A: Have fun with them and enjoy yourself, we take care of everything. You just relax and have some fun.
Q: What factors do you consider when planning an itinerary?
A: Location of sites and content of sites to fit desires and needs of the group. It is very important that the groups get to see as much as possible and not be driving back and forth all day long.
Q: What are some of your favorite destinations for groups traveling to the West Coast?