Agents congregate around the Tauck table during the Affluent Travel Symposium. // © 2012 Ron Smith
American Marketing Group (AMG), the organization behind 19 travel brands including TravelSavers, Network of Entrepreneurs Selling Travel (NEST), the Affluent Traveler Collection and Well-Being Travel, recently brought travel agents to the Phoenician Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Ariz., for three events: the Affluent Traveler Symposium, the first-ever Well-Being and Medical Travel Conference 2012 and Travel Market 2012.
Whether travel agents came for one event or all three, which operated on a staggered schedule, they certainly had plenty to do, including attending general sessions and workshops, seeking out suppliers at the trade shows and enjoying specialty dining and celebratory galas.
Highlights of the Affluent Traveler Collection included a general session led by Pamela Danziger of Unity Marketing, who engaged luxury travel suppliers with an up-to-date and research-based discussion on What’s Hot (and What’s Not) in Luxury Travel. Danziger advised agents to treat luxury as a verb, rather than a noun — today’s luxury clients believe that luxury is to be experienced and do not view luxury as a thing to have or own. Danziger also stated that the goal of luxury travel is to deliver creative transformative experiences that create memories and build human connections.
As the Affluent Traveler Symposium came to an end at a 1920’s-themed closing gala at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix, new faces began to arrive for the debut of The Well-Being and Medical Travel Conference 2012. The Well-Being Travel brand launched just two years ago under the guidance of executive vice president Anne Marie Moebes, but the conference demonstrated that medical travel and well-being travel are two of the industry’s most exciting opportunities for travel professionals.
The conference’s two distinct tracks, Medical Travel and Well-being Travel, covered topics ranging from “Meeting Travelers’ Holistic Health Needs” to “Legal Aspects of Medical Tourism, How to Mitigate Your Risks.” In addition to general sessions, a supplier exhibit, workshops and moderated panels featuring the industry’s top experts, suppliers and medical facilitators, the conference attendees enjoyed a healthy lunch sponsored by the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, which is positioning itself as a destination for well-being travel. The lunch featured Sione Fa, a former contestant on the television weight-loss series “The Biggest Loser” and a trainer at the Biggest Loser Resort at Fitness Ridge in Ivins, Utah. Fa encouraged travel agents to consider well-being travel for its emotional and transformative properties, which help build memories, connections and clients for life.
Last, but certainly not least, more than 800 travel agents gathered for Travel Market 2012. The general session featured keynote speaker Samantha Brown, the host of the Travel Channel’s “Passport Series” and “Great Weekends.” Brown and co-host Nolan Burris, a former travel agent and president of Future Proof Travel Solutions, held a live talk show during which they interviewed industry leaders including Steven Gorga of Travel Impressions, Scott Nisbet of the Globus Family of Brands, Andy Stuart of Norwegian Cruise Line, Robert Wissel of Delta Air Lines, Carla Murray of Starwood Hotels and Resorts and two travel agents. The conference featured a packed schedule of breakout sessions in sales, technology, marketing, niche travel and corporate tracks.