Jennifer Wilson-Buttigieg knows that to not only keep up with the travel industry’s continual change, but thrive, you must see opportunity everywhere and in everything. As Co-President & Owner at Valerie Wilson Travel, Jennifer’s forward-thinking approach and “challenge the status quo” mindset has helped to cement Valerie Wilson Travel as an industry leader. As the world navigated the COVID-19 pandemic, Jennifer’s hands-on leadership skills and passion helped Valerie Wilson Travel and its team, clients, and suppliers steer through the crisis with communication, clarity, and a sense of community. Additionally, her consistent success with both sales and business development keeps Valerie Wilson Travel in the spotlight through her thoughtful influence and leadership to VWT’s Corporate Travel, Meetings, Incentives, and Fulfillment divisions, its exceptional airline programs, its business development, and its strategic initiatives.
Her commitment to the travel industry is tremendous. She is actively engaged on the boards of several committees and brands. She is Co-Chair of the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) Government & Political Affairs Committee and former Co-Chair of the Corporate Advisory Council, of which she remains a member, as well as a former member of the ASTA National Board of Directors. Jennifer sits on the advisory board of top travel brands, including Abercrombie & Kent, Accor, Aman Resorts Hotels & Residences, The Chatwal Hotel, Collette, Global CommUnity, InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, and Taj Hotels Resorts & Palaces; editorial advisory to periodicals including AFAR Travel Advisory Council and Travel Market Report; philanthropic and civic engagements; and active in assorted alumni committees at her alma maters of Harvard Business School and Haverford College.
Jennifer’s efforts have earned her a number of honors, including the 2018 Paul Ruden Industry Ambassador Award, Luxury Travel Advisor Award of Excellence (of which she was the first recipient), the Top Humanitarian Award, and the ISTA/ASTA Barbara O’Hara Advocacy Award. Travel + Leisure has listed her as a member of the “A-List” for Business Travel for ten consecutive years. She is regularly asked to speak at both conferences and to the press as an expert in her field and has been quoted in periodicals, including The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, The New York Times, Condé Nast Traveler and PhocusWire.
A graduate of Haverford College with a B.A. in History and a minor in Political Science, Jennifer also received her Executive MBA from the Owner/President Management Program (OPM 33) at Harvard Business School. She began her career in corporate sales at the Westbury Hotel in New York, NY, before joining her family business in 1991.
In her spare time, Jennifer enjoys traveling with her husband and son. She is a seasoned golfer. Though her favorite destination is subject to change, her favorite golfing is in Scotland, where the unpredictable weather ensures an endlessly exciting game every round.
As with any industry, advocacy is a pivotal component in helping advance and protect all aspects of the travel hospitality sector. I am a very proud member of the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA), serving as Co-Chair of Government & Political Affairs Committee and member of the Corporate Advisory Council. Working with ASTA has given me the opportunity to be involved with fantastic people and achieve huge travel industry legislative wins from our growing grass roots efforts to seeing bi-partisan bills passed.
Notably, from 2016-2020, I assisted with ASTA’s fight to remove travel agencies from the U.S. Department of Labor’s “blacklist,” a list of industries that were blocked from being exempt from the enforcement of overtime rules dating back to the 1930s. This win achieved in May 2020 will afford travel advisors and TMCs the flexibility they need to seamlessly function and provide real time responses to clients. Additionally, increasing our ASTAPAC annual donations remains a priority.
I have had the privilege of receiving both the 2018 Paul Ruden Industry Ambassador Award and the ISTA/ASTA Barbara O’Hara Advocacy Award in recognition of my work with ASTA.
For almost four decades, Valerie Wilson Travel grew from a small family business to a brand with unparalleled global relationships. From the owners to the clients we serve to our employees and preferred suppliers, our goal is to cultivate a family-like atmosphere where everyone is welcome, heard, and appreciated.
To help VWT grow into the business it is, I had the opportunity to be a graduate of the Harvard Business School’s Owner/President Management OPM 33 class which proved invaluable to enhance my personal toolkit. After 9/11, I went back to school. Amid family health issues and increasing questions of the travel industry’s survival, it became imperative to build my knowledge base and take a holistic, informed look at both my own, and VWT’s, future. My time at Harvard provided me with time to reflect and solidify the building blocks of my, and VWT’s, future.
In my role as Co-President and Owner, I wear many hats. To my family I am: mom, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, loyal friend. To my industry I am: leader in my industry, executive, mentor, frequent traveler. To myself I am: golfer, Christian, entrepreneur, a proud member and owner of a mother/ daughter/ daughter and son-in-law 2nd generation family business. All play key roles in helping our family business grow and excel worldwide.
Traveling is one of my favorite things, as it allows us to explore the world and connects us as a society.
Travel pillow: I always travel with a Cuddledown travel pillow and 2-3 matching travel pillowcases (one for the outbound plane, one for my return, and one for the hotel). At 16″ x 20″, the pillow fits easily into my carry-on luggage and allows me to relax in trusted comfort anywhere I go. As I travel 50% of the year, this allows me to have a consistent sleep on the go.
Travel wipes: Even before COVID-19, traveling, even at the highest level, involves a great deal of physical space shared with strangers! Keeping my own pack of Nice’n’Clean Premium Wipes allows me to ensure that everywhere around me is clean and sanitary to my specifications, both on planes and in hotels. These come in handy to make sure that every new space is fresh for me.
Tech bag with a motivational phrase: I can fit my iPhone, iPad, Mophie charger, and travel converters into one small pouch, so nothing gets lost, and looking at it brightens my day!
Compression travel stockings: I travel with a pair of Sigvaris compression stockings either in beige or black – a tasteful touch that help my legs and feet maintain circulation.
Scarves: As they are a comfortable, fashionable, and sanitary alternative to the airplane blanket, with a personal touch, I always travel with two scarves of well-worn silk for my neck, and a pashmina for my shoulders and neck. Now, it can be an alternative to a mask on the plane.