John Overholt ’20


Having already worked for PRIOR in August of last year, I was eager to get back in the office for a few months this summer. PRIOR is a bespoke, membership-based travel start-up, focused on creating unique and authentic experiences for our incredibly discerning members. PRIOR offers Clubhouses and Journeys, or pre-packaged, ultra-exclusive trips hosted by Michelin star chefs and fashion designers, among others. PRIOR also offers custom itineraries and private travel planning with unrivaled access and knowledge.

Due to the small size of the PRIOR team, I was tasked with much of the management and configuration of the Salesforce CRM database. My responsibilities included the research and implementation of a new marketing automation platform called Pardot, allowing for a more seamless distribution of our newsletter and other marketing materials. Additionally, I worked with each member of the PRIOR team to create Salesforce dashboards that would display pertinent data and information essential to their day-to-day responsibilities. I also assisted most of the PRIOR employees with getting to know the Salesforce platform and teaching them how they could maximize its use and application. Having worked with a CRM similar to Salesforce in the past, I was quickly able to achieve a strong understanding of the platform and how PRIOR could utilize it to make day-to-day operations more efficient. Working directly with our co-founder and primary investor, I was tasked with helping create a new membership model for 2020. Currently, PRIOR membership has a large initiation fee that deterred a lot of younger potential clients from joining. For this reason, he asked me to figure out a way in which we could revitalize our membership offerings. Using Salesforce reporting and sifting through our Square payment processor records, I created a number of hypothetical membership options with smaller barriers to entry (initiation fees), while maximizing the per-trip planning costs, resulting in a few pay-as-you-go tiers that would be more attractive to younger, lower net-worth clients. Using our revenue data, I was able to run the numbers using these hypothetical tiers and found a way to increase revenue using planning fees paid per-day, broadening the base and scope of PRIOR membership, and hopefully introducing a new client demographic to the company.

In July, PRIOR closed a partnership deal with the men’s swimwear company Orlebar Brown, providing us with custom bathing suits to gift to our male members. Soon after, I overheard our Head of Partnerships brainstorming with another employee about what we might want to gift our female members. Right away, I sent a text to my fellow Eph, Walter (Dutch) Buckley ’19. Dutch’s sister, Alexa, founded a direct-to-consumer women’s shoe company called Margaux. I was able to organize a call with Vanessa (Head of Partnerships), Alexa, and myself, where we laid out a roadmap for potential collaborations in 2020.

Working for a company of only 14 employees allowed me the opportunity to lead and assist on a number of tasks and projects that might be outside the scope of an internship at larger companies. With that said, I still had my fair share of more monotonous assignments like data entry and even running to the post office, I was also tasked with important projects that would directly impact the company. The general lack of structure to my internship was both good and bad; on many occasions, I was able to work more freely in ways that I thought could benefit the company. With that said, I only got a taste of the different positions and responsibilities at the company. More importantly, the PRIOR team was incredibly welcoming, encouraging, and attentive, which translated into a greater commitment on my end, making me work harder and engage myself to the fullest. Overall, my internship at PRIOR this summer deeply expanded my interest in hospitality and more specifically, branding.

There are numerous connections between my ANSO classes at Williams and my work at PRIOR, be it Professor Shevchenko’s Culture and Consumption or Professor Koryushkina’s Propaganda class. More specifically, it was fascinating to be inside a company set at the forefront of servicing the current shift in hospitality consumption—towards a more personal and unique experience. This trend does stop at the door of the PRIOR office, as the more general population’s tastes are gradually shifting to more bespoke, personal, and authentic experiences. On the other side, it seems that the large hotel brands have, for the most part, dried up their large-scale mergers and acquisitions pools and are looking to add more novel, inventive, and authentic properties to their portfolios. The convergence of these shifts has left me incredibly interested in the future of the hospitality industry.

I am so grateful for the opportunity that PRIOR, ASIP, and the Shah Family afforded me this summer. The Shah’s generosity is something I will never forget. I know that my experience at PRIOR has and will continue to 
shape my curiosity and career path as I enter the workforce and beyond. I 
would have never been able take on this amazing internship without the 
support of the Shah’s and the ’68 Center for Career Exploration. The ASIP 
program and its sponsors allow students like me to pursue opportunities that 
will make an immense impact on our studies, careers, and lives in general.

I am so proud to have participated in the ASIP program as it left me with a heightened sense of my interests and career orientation, and most importantly, a mentor. Mr. Shah has already provided me with immense support and advice in a number of conversations during the summer. His Ventureship model allowed for collaboration and conversation between him and all of the grant recipients, helping me realize the importance of alumni mentor relationships. I hope to be able to participate in this program as an alum. Just like Mr. Shah told me of his motivation to begin a Ventureship program at Williams, I want to pay it forward.