Young Skål program success stories: Altan Demirkaya

The recent election of Altan Demirkaya as president of Skål International Vancouver, Canada, marks another success story in Skål International organization. 

Altan, 31 years of age, is the youngest club President elected in Skål International Canada history and he is now one of the youngest club presidents in the world.

He is a passionate, award winning Young Tourism professional with 11 years and plus international work experience, had lived in 2 different countries and had served in local, national, and international levels in Skål International for the past 10 years.

He is a great example of our Skål International Young Skål program and its successful role in the organization.

Altan Demirkaya

Skål International Vancouver 2022 President

About Altan Demirkaya

I love Skål International.

It is an honor and privilege to be selected as the President of Skål International Vancouver and being one of the youngest presidents in the world. I am sending my greetings to fellow Skålleagues from around the world.

I was born on May 13, 1990, in Istanbul, Turkey. I started working at the hospitality industry at the age of 12 with the support of my dad who was managing a cafeteria in a high school. He took me to work from time to time, so I gained excellent skills through our small family business before going to university. I graduated with honors from OKAN University, Department of Tourism and Hotel Management in 2013. 

My biggest goal was to be a successful leader in the Travel and Tourism industry one day, and to work on the development of Tourism globally. I have worked in various departments of five-star hotels and airlines, and this helped me discover which area to specialize in. These experiences served me well in my career. I decided to become a hotelier and started working as a bellboy at a five-star hotel in Istanbul. One year after graduating from university, my Canadian adventure began. 

I moved to Canada in November 2014. I started studying Hospitality Management program by AHLEI at the Canadian College in which I am currently teaching Tourism courses! I started working at the BW Plus Chateau Granville Hotel as a Front desk Agent in 2015. I was promoted to a Sales & Catering Manager Role in 2016. I have been awarded with the Vancouver Tourism Awards by the Mayor of the City in Vancouver. Chosen from over 300 applicants, I was awarded for service excellence in 2016. I moved to the Head Office of Best Western Hotels and Resorts in 2018 and was appointed as the Global Sales & Account Development Manager for Western Canada, being responsible for 6 provinces. 

I had to make some career changes due to the impact of Covid Pandemic in 2020. I am currently teaching Hospitality and Tourism courses also providing Hotel Management solutions to the hotels.

Skål International Career

When was 22 and I became one of the first Young Skål members of Skål International Marmara club in Istanbul.

I would like to take this opportunity to send my regards and thanks to Onur Gülbahar, Zeynep Yılmaz and Merih Kırlı, and fellow Skål International Marmara and Skål International Turkey members. Although I worked at a hotel as a Bellboy 6 days a week, I would take my remaining 1 day off on days when Skål International meetings were held. I enjoyed being active in the club and connecting with valuable tourism professionals, whether it be working at the registration desk, doing social media management, taking photos for our club in 2013-14. While doing all this, I tried to improve myself and my network. 

Three months after moving to Canada in 2014, I attended Skål International Vancouver dinner as a Young Skål guest. I have transferred my membership to Vancouver club. I told the board of directors that I wanted to attend their meeting and make a presentation on how to build Young Skål in Vancouver. We had a big challenge ahead of us: we had to build everything from scratch as I was the only Young Skål in our club. Moreover, the previous attempts to establish Young Skål were unsuccessful because it was difficult to find young people who study and work in tourism passionately. 

Later, we established Young Skål with the support of our board of directors, and we became one of the clubs with the most active Young Skål members in Canada. I have been on the Skål International Vancouver Board of Directors for about 7 years. As you know, as Young Skål, you do not have voting rights and cannot be a President. I decided to become an active Skål International member 3.5 years ago. In addition to my Young Skål role, I also held various positions such as Communication & PR director on the board. I was invited to the major universities and colleges as a guest speaker and talked about Skål International as well as Sales and Marketing in Tourism. I invited students & teachers to our club meetings. With our hard work, we created a good relationship between our club and some of the leading universities and Colleges in Vancouver. In fact, some of the universities sponsored the meal fees of the students who attended our meetings and dinners. They were required to attend Skål International meetings in order to pass some of their classes or get extra points. This was a great achievement for us. 

Achieving such results is all about showing the benefits of Skål International to the education sector, as well as persuading and building relationships with them. I had the pleasure of attending large conferences with up to 400 attendees as a guest speaker and talked about Skål International and its benefits. I became the chairman of the committee established to promote Young Skål globally. The PowerPoint presentation we developed with our Young Skålleagues from around the world is still on the website and is being used by the clubs globally. At the same time, I was one of the volunteer admins of Young Skål International social media accounts and the official email address for years. These experiences served me well in my career. 

We need young people and their vision with the guidance of tourism executives. Sharing the experiences of more experienced and successful professionals and listening to their advice and exchanging ideas are valuable. This is possible with Skål International.

One of the challenges I find as a young tourism professional is to come across professionals who would give young people an opportunity to grow and prove oneself in the industry. I don't believe that being young or being above certain age is a requirement or a criterion to be a good leader. I have met some great people through Skål International from all over the world. I would like to give a shout out to Anastasios Theodoropoulos, Ron Waterhouse, Ivano (Coach) Corazza and Harvey Lee for all their support during my Skål International journey in Canada.

This is an international organization where everyone comes from different backgrounds, educational levels, and cultures. As executives we are expected to have the ability to work with our differences, work together and bring the best out of our differences in terms of new ideas that will take the organization to the next level.

I will be a leader developing leaders. In today's modern world, and in an organization like ours, it is important that we develop leaders for the future sustainability and continuity of our organization. They are the Future of Tourism! 

My mission as the new Skål International Vancouver club president is to unite our membership and engage to work towards achieving the common goals the executive board has set for 2022. I am passing my regards and thanks to our fellow board and club members in Vancouver.

I love Skål International and looking forward to serving as the new president of Skål International Vancouver.

Altan Demirkaya

Skål International Vancouver 2022 President