For all the students and students-at-heart out there, we know how much you love a good deal; particularly when it comes to travel. Fortunately, there are resources like StudentUniverse to help make your travel plans as seamless and affordable as possible! Online since 2000, StudentUniverse is a travel company that provides exclusive discounts, rewards, and experiences for students, faculty and youth (18-25). StudentUniverse negotiates exclusive airfares with over 65 airline partners globally, and features discounted rates on hotels and tours all over the world. StudentUniverse believes that travel enriches education and that students should be able to explore their world without breaking the bank.
GoAbroad recently had the chance to sit down to chat with StudentUniverse’s CEO, Atle Skalleberg, to learn more about new developments with the website and how StudentUniverse continues to meet youth travelers’ needs. Check out Atle’s answers below and start booking your own travel plans with StudentUniverse!
How did you come to the role of CEO at StudentUniverse? What do you enjoy the most about it?
I managed marketing for a while and then worked closely with our Founder as I transitioned into general management. After two years as an executive vice president I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to lead our team. What I enjoy the most? Working with smart people. We have built a culture where “done beats perfect” and we are more agile than ever. This allows us to give customers what they want and react quickly. This is only possible because we have great people that are dynamic and understand the value of getting stuff done. I merely help set the direction, the real magic happens when it all comes together and we ship.
StudentUniverse describes itself as a technology company – what about the technology sets it apart from the crowd?
First of all, our tech is built for a specific audience: young people on the move. Our ability to validate our members sets us apart – it is one of many things that help us secure exclusive deals for students and youth. Because we have full control of our technology services we can develop faster than other players – this leads to more targeted features and services. We include unique product types and combinations. We help groups travel.
How is StudentUniverse able to offer such discounted prices to student and youth travelers?
Our ability to validate our members sets us apart – it helps us secure exclusive deals for students and youth. We have built a brand that is well-known and a protected channel where our partners can reach a highly qualified audience. We have specialized for more than a decade and built a reach that drives substantial volume. At the end of the day it is a two-sided business: To give our members great deals we need suppliers. To give suppliers meaningful business we need members. We are fortunately in a position where we balance those sides by providing continued value. Whether it is acquiring future business travelers for airlines or making sure an international student gets to take the extra flight home.
Do you have to be a student to use StudentUniverse? Is it possible for alumni find deals on StudentUniverse?
No, it is not only for students. We have great deals for those under 26 as well. It does not matter if you have graduated if you are between 18 and 25 years of age.
How would you describe today’s youth traveler? What are they looking for when booking travel & how does StudentUniverse meet that need?
Today’s travelers are getting more connected and more adventurous. Youth travel is growing fast worldwide. International travel is growing rapidly for StudentUniverse as well. With more students studying abroad, backpacking and substituting their domestic vacation for an international one we are more relevant than ever before. We meet this need by offering better prices and terms. Youth/students have unique travel needs and we work with our partners to meet those needs. It goes beyond a low price: Length of stay, change fees, group travel and much more.
What is your favorite tool on the StudentUniverse website?
It is boring, I know – but our air search engine is awesome. Flying internationally? You will not find our deals on the leading online travel agency sites.
Anything new and exciting happening at StudentUniverse travelers should know about?
Always! StudentUniverse UK just launched and we are rolling out our brand new member-only rates for hotels . Our all-new iOS app is also worth mentioning – it will make it easy to find a deal on the go.
You grew up in Norway – what would you say are the most rewarding and challenging aspects to living abroad as an expat?
It is incredibly exciting to not only experience a new culture, but truly become a part of it. To master a language is rewarding, yet something that requires a significant amount of time.
What is one essential piece of advice you would give to youth travelers?
Travel more. Invest in experiences, not goods. It will change your life and even improve your resume.
What is your go-to gadget when you’re on the go?
Noise canceling headset.
Thanks for chatting with GoAbroad, Atle! Be sure to check out more exciting deals from StudentUniverse today! Save more the next time you travel by booking with StudentUniverse!
Atle joined StudentUniverse in 2005, and prior to his role as a CEO, he led the business development and marketing teams. Having grown up in Norway, you would think he would not mind the cold Boston winters – think again. Atle loves whiteboards, digital business and good wine. He is in charge of continuing StudentUniverse’s growth and is involved in all commercial aspects of the business. Atle received his undergraduate degree from The Norwegian School of Management – B.I. and his graduate degree from Boston University.