Lauren Howard: Today’s Notable Young Professional

Elevator Pitch: Describe your business in a nutshell.
I work for Contiki Holidays, the original adventure travel company for 18-35 year olds. As the Canadian Brand & Marketing Manager for the global organization, I oversee all marketing initiatives within Canada including strategic development, partnerships, digital media, social media, budgeting, branding, traditional advertising, campaign execution and content creation. 

Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
I came to Contiki two years ago with a background in action sports marketing. It seems like a bit of a departure from my roots, but the marketing is incredibly similar as I’m still targeting the youth demographic. A move to the travel industry was a natural one; travel has always been a passion of mine and it’s helped to shape and define who I am as a person. That’s really the message I’m constantly motivated to share – everyone should take the opportunity to travel while they’re young!

It has become my goal in working with Contiki to inspire young people to live for the moment, see the world, and live life with no regrets.

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
My days range from brainstorming our next campaign, to discussing the digital media plan for the upcoming month, to monitoring our social media channels, to actually being on the road in an exotic locale, experiencing the awesome Contiki product – as you can imagine, I have very few complaints! It doesn’t mean the job is without challenges, however. Because there’s no routine with the role, it can be tough to stay organized and prioritize.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
Still travelling, seeing the world, being inspired by my surroundings and converting that passion into marketing campaigns that inspire others to do the same. Continuing to grow my network of contacts and develop new and exciting partnerships that help to promote the brand to new audiences. Pretty much continuing with what I’m doing now, but on a bigger scale.

What does success look like to you?
Building great things that stand the test of time, be it a campaign, a group dynamic, a worthwhile event. Success is doing all things with passion and being genuinely proud of the work you’ve produced. 

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
I’d say one of my biggest successes has been a continued partnership with the YouTube community, a success I share with the rest of our awesome Contiki team. Contiki is the first company in the travel sphere to reach out to YouTubers to tell the story of a brand, and we’ve been nurturing those relationships for the past two years. Rather than hire a group of young spokespeople, we instead decided to provide the most notable Canadian YouTubers with the ability to travel and experience our product first-hand. They get free reign to create their own content in their own style, completely unscripted. Seems a bit scary for a brand to do this, but because we offer such an awesome product, we’ve seen nothing but incredible content produced. From this, we’ve been able to execute hugely successful campaigns around online content creation, speaking directly to our demographic.

As the next step – and I’m super excited about this – we’ve signed on as the official travel sponsor for Buffer Festival, which is the first YouTube international film festival, being held here in Toronto from November 8-10. We’re the only sponsor to have our own theatre and will be hosting some of the top YouTubers from around the world, many of whom have partnered with us in the past. A milestone for me isn’t just one big success, it’s when I can leverage that original moment of success to create a string of great campaigns and partnerships. 

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
You can only be truly successful if you are passionate about what you do, so love it, embrace it and work hard. The harder you work, to more you can justify playing hard. It’s all about balance! 

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
The TreadRight Foundation – it’s the not-for-profit funded by our parent company, The Travel Corporation, supporting sustainable tourism and conservation efforts around the world. Contiki and TreadRight have partnered with environmentalist Celine Cousteau to work on initiatives to preserve our oceans and the outcome so far has been incredible. Even though I’m not contributing financially, the cause is super important to me and our team, and we support it through promotion and awareness, both locally and globally. We recently ran a press trip with Celine throughout the Galapagos, where media got to swim in the ocean and track the different varieties of sharks in the area. Actually getting people involved with our sustainability projects is the best way to raise awareness.

What is Notable to you?
Living every day like it’s your last. You only have one life, one shot, so you’d better make it count.

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