“In our old system, I had a cumbersome Swiss Army knife when all I use is the bottle opener. Via is the bottle opener,” says Knox’s Todd Heidt
It was serendipity in the form of a perfectly timed email that brought Via together with Todd Heidt, director of the Eleanor Stellyes Center for Global Studies at Knox College.
Todd had long been frustrated by his office’s overly complicated study abroad software system when he received an email from his software provider in February 2022 informing him about an upcoming application module update.
Todd began making plans for Summer 2022—and it wasn’t a fun vacation at the beach. Instead, he would be spending his summer reinventing their application. Adding to his irritation was an email that arrived soon after, apologizing for the short notice but notifying him their contract was expiring within a couple of weeks.
Todd had never been a fan of the software system. “I found it to be really confusingly assembled,” he says. “And it seemed like there were a lot of duplicative processes.”
That’s why he decided to respond to an email he got out of the blue from Bob Specking, senior account executive at Via. Bob invited Todd to reach out if he was interested in exploring an alternative software system.
Todd consulted with his office’s administrative assistant, who said: “Anything has to be better than this.” They decided to meet with Bob.
“I figured it was worth it to spend an hour or so of my time to investigate this other system, given the cost-benefit analysis of possibly freeing myself from my current provider and this huge summer project.”
Bob took them through a Via product demo and also gave them contact information for some of Via’s clients.
“We started polling colleagues who had transitioned to Via from another system,” Todd says. “Everybody raved. The message was very consistent that Via is a user-friendly system. It’s very intuitive and the support was responsive.”
Another plus: Via was also affordable. His current provider, he says, was “very high, considering we were using a thin slice of their potential services.”
“I felt like I was carrying around a large, cumbersome Swiss Army knife when all I use is the bottle opener,” Todd says. “The bottle opener is Via. It does the one thing that we needed to do well, which is track our study abroad experiences.”
“There’s not a steep learning curve,” he says. “It’s pretty self-explanatory. It’s eliminated the spreadsheets we had created as a backup to our other system. It’s much easier to work with and much easier to find the specific information we need.”
Further proof they made the right decision switching to Via came when a student employee took Via for a test drive. “When he opened it, the first thing he said was, ‘Wow, this looks really nice,’” Todd recalls. He’s heard similar comments from other student users.
Faculty members, who called the other system “clunky,” are also fans of Via, Todd says. And the Knox College administration is happy about the cost savings, he adds.
“In terms of bang for the buck, Via does everything that we need it to. Even with the Via Travel add on, we’re going to save money starting next year versus continuing our contract with our previous provider. Our administration was thrilled with that.”
Todd Discovers Value of Global Experiences at 16
Todd loves turning Knox College students, particularly first-generation college students, on to the value of global experiences. Todd had his first global experience at age 16 when he went to Germany through a school exchange program.
“Those were the most important four weeks of my life,” Todd says. “I went to Germany thinking I was going to study English literature in college and I came back knowing it was going to be German. I’ve been German all the way through undergrad, master’s and my Ph.D.”
In addition to his role as director of the Center for Global Studies, Todd also teaches German at Knox, where he’s worked for 13 years.
“I try to communicate to students the value of study abroad is, in hindsight, going to be dramatically different than what they think right now. There will be things that surprise them that they never imagined will be part of their experience. That’s the value and the wonder of this kind of travel.”
Like Todd Heidt at Knox College, Via believes global experiences will change our world. That’s why we created traveler relationship management and travel risk management software, which helps universities and study abroad program providers to empower global experiences. If you want a true education abroad partner, turn to Via.