Purposeful Pivots: Case Study On Passport-Free Programs by EdOdyssey

December 14, 2020
Lucas Ennis
5 min read

In our final webinar of the year, Keri Pfeiffer, Business Development Manager at WeTravel, is joined by Peter McGovern, President and Global Founder of EdOdyssey.

As an entrepreneur, educator, and world traveler, it’s Peter’s desire to create, build, and foster collaboration across the industry. During the webinar, he shares EdOdyssey’s interesting story of having to pivot as a business this year, like many have had to do, in the face of the pandemic.

In case you missed it, you can watch the replay below.

About The Companies

WeTravel is a payment and booking platform made for travel businesses of all sizes, including tour operators, retreat leaders, and travel planners in the group and multi-day space.

EdOdyssey is in the travel/education/study abroad industry. The business custom designs immersion educational programs to Peru, China, Spain, Italy, the USA, and beyond for students.

Helping The Travel Industry To Thrive In Change

After each webinar we host, we ask our audience for feedback on what they would like to hear more of from us. One thing that was clear from the response we received is that our community is looking to connect with other companies and travel professionals to hear about their experience in this time. To find out how they are coping and what they are doing to pivot.

Peter has a great story and is doing a lot in this respect, so it was great timing for the conversation. By sharing EdOdyssey’s journey, the hope is to find common ground and deliver ideas that could help the industry to continue moving forward.

Purposeful Pivots: Passport-Free Programs By EdOdyssey

EdOdyssey’s Journey

Machu Picchu

Pre-COVID and Start Of The Pandemic – Peter founded EdOdyssey in 2014, and up until 2020, the business offered tailored educational travel programs with an emphasis on learning objectives and pedagogy.

Their main areas of focus were custom programs at the college and higher education levels. In the K-12 space, they offered immersion exchanges and language programs.

They also designed study abroad programs that extend for the summer, a semester, or a full year.

As a team, EdOdyssey are educators and not tour guides. It was this understanding of themselves that lead into the work they are doing today.

(Purposeful) Pivot and Expansion Process – As EdOdyssey works in China, they had to make decisions to postpone and cancel programs early on. Then as the pandemic began to spread, they had to do the same for another major hub – Italy.

By March, they no longer had any scheduled in-person programs going. This led to phase two of the company’s 2020 year.

In spring 2020, the team came together for a series of meetings to figure out the path forward. As an education organization, they wanted to make sure that their pivots were purposeful.

Vision Ahead – having a vision for the future was key to drive the team. There had to be a clear vision of how the pivots fit into the business now and where they are going with them in the years ahead.

EdOdyssey’s Passport-Free Programs

Sagrada Familia

After sharing ideas as a team, EdOdyssey decided to move forward with three unique virtual pivot programs.

  1. Virtual Study Abroad – Meaningful accredited courses taught virtually by a partner university in Lima, complemented by authentic (and fun) cultural modules led by the EdOdyssey team. The team already had most of the resources in place for this and understood who their clients were and the dynamics of how they work together.
  2. Medical Spanish & Latinx Patient – Fusion of language and culture to help prepare future providers and professionals in health care. As providers, this course was timely due to COVID. It brought to light the important role of healthcare in our world and how the outcomes for different patients are not the same.
  3. Global Student Programs Certificate for Educators – Professional development for education practitioners and leaders who are committed to forging new opportunities for their students beyond the classroom.

Through this, EdOdyssey was helping to train and educate teachers and faculty who have been working with them or might work with them in the future.

Purpose Behind The Pivots

Forbidden City, Beijing

Short-term – Stick On A Band-Aid – When COVID first hit and shut down travel, the company required a band-aid to generate revenue. As a mission vision-based organization, they needed a turnkey option that aligned with their purpose and supported a long-term strategic vision.

By creating the study abroad program, they could generate income by offering a meaningful program that supports their partners. They could continue working with their partner in Lima, Peru, even though they weren’t sending students there.

Mid-term – Build A Bridge Of Pseudo-Mobility – Right now, the company is helping students get global exposure despite not being able to travel right now.

Even though the programs are designed as a standalone experience, students can earn credits for taking them. And when travel does eventually open again, they can travel as better informed students who are prepared for the experience.

Long-term – Offer An Affordable Equitable Option To Students – It is a privilege to travel abroad, and only a fraction of students get to enjoy the experience.

The passport-free programs, on the other hand, although not the same as an in-person experience, are super affordable options that help to build towards a better future.

For EdOdyssey, they are a beautiful addition to their portfolio that they plan on maintaining for the future.

Key Takeaways and Recommendations From Peter

Ica, Peru

Know who you are, what you do, and why you do it.

With that knowledge, you can start to do purposeful pivots and perform analyses to understand what the best options are considering your market and time restraints, as well as your short, mid, and long term goals as an organization.

Challenges always arise, be ready to meet them.

This year has been full of challenges. Find the silver lining right now, and this will benefit your organization. Waiting until 2022 to circle back into the industry is not playing it safe; it’s falling behind. Be active and intentional in the return to normal, whatever that normal may be.

Think like an entrepreneur.

Be a pragmatic idealist and work towards a vision. But be respectful of the time and situation that we all find ourselves in. A successful entrepreneur finds a bridge to connect the dots between the two points in time.

You also have to work purposefully as a team. As a leader, ensure that there is a clear vision and direction for everyone to work together towards.


At the end of every call he’s done over the last few months, Peter ends with a give and ask situation.

His give:

  • This presentation and sharing of EdOdyssey’s experience
  • An invitation to connect, collaborate, or support

His ask:

  • To connect if you think there is a way for you to collaborate
  • Think like an entrepreneur and connect with two people or organizations this week for a conversation. There may be a way you can help or collaborate.

Thanks to Peter for sharing his valuable time with us. If you would like to contact him, reach out on any of the following channels:

Email: peter@edodyssey.com

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/petermcgovern/

Website: www.edodyssey.com