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When I started at TravelAge West, I would go to industry conferences, and there would be very few young people in attendance. The ones I did see were, frankly, often treated like second-class citizens. Many of the older agents were condescending, the suppliers didn’t seem to acknowledge their different needs, and the young agents had this look like, “What have I gotten myself into?”
Things have definitely improved for young advisors over the years, but there is no doubt that we can do more to support these agents who, after all, are the future of our industry. I’m very proud to say that TravelAge West has taken a major step in this effort by launching the Future Leaders in Travel Retreat. You can read all about the unique format — as well as some of the impact — of our inaugural event in this issue’s cover story (“The Future Is Now,” page 18).
As we went through the planning process of The Retreat, our mantra was always “Make it different.” We figured, if we’re going to launch a new event for such a diverse and creative audience, why would we want to stick to the same stale format as other industry conferences? So, we rethought every aspect of The Retreat and came up with a formula that’s fresh, smart and energized — just like this amazing next generation of advisors and suppliers.
We are certainly not the first organization to consider the needs of young travel professionals, and we know that our success with The Retreat is going to spawn a slew of imitators who want to jump on the bandwagon — and that’s fine with us. Sure, imitation is flattering, but there is plenty of room for more cooperation among all stakeholders, and TravelAge West is proud to lead that effort.
For our veteran agents, don’t worry: We haven’t forgotten about your contributions to the industry or your needs going forward. We will continue to serve all advisors — novices and experts alike — in the months and years ahead as we work together to make our industry stronger than ever.