Journey to TripAdvisor: Steve Paganelli's Insights on Travel, Relationships, and Making an Impact

In this episode of Business Class by The Tourism Academy, we sit down with Steve Paganelli, Head of Americas at TripAdvisor, for a candid conversation about his journey in the travel and tourism industry. While today, he's at the forefront of one of the most influential travel platforms, Steve's path to this role was anything but conventional.

Steve shares that he originally aspired to be a doctor or lawyer, but life had other plans. He ventured into college with dreams of studying international business or foreign relations, only to find himself drawn into travel and tourism. For Steve, this industry is about more than just business; it's about building meaningful relationships.




His career in travel began serendipitously when he took a campus job at a conference center. This initial step led him on a journey through destination management organizations (DMOs) in Connecticut and beyond for 13 years. Eventually, he transitioned to the private sector, exploring the digital landscape.

Steve's enthusiasm for the travel industry stems from its profound impact on communities. He's passionate about preserving the essence and quality of life in these places and emphasizes the importance of the people involved—passionate, talented individuals, from teams to bosses to customers.

As a constant traveler, Steve understands the ups and downs of the travel experience. He recounts how technology and platforms like TripAdvisor have transformed travel, making it more seamless and enjoyable. He shares a recent experience that exemplifies the power of user-generated reviews and modern travel tools.

Beyond his career, Steve reflects on his move to Pittsburgh, his admiration for industry leaders like Maura Gast and Tammy Blunt, and the importance of staying connected and open to learning throughout your journey.

In this insightful episode, Steve imparts valuable advice for newcomers to the industry: follow your passion, make connections, and maintain them, as you never know where your next lesson will come from. He also discusses the significance of patience and grace in challenging situations.

Join us for this engaging conversation with Steve Paganelli, where we explore his journey, his passion for travel, and his vision for the future of the travel and tourism industry.

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