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In this issue, we share highlights from our 11th annual WAVE Awards, including winning companies, favorite sales reps, our Excellence in Leadership Award winners, photos from the black-tie gala and more. And, of course, we introduce you to our 2016 Trendsetters — top travel agents in the West.
This has become one of my favorite issues of the year. Not only is it gratifying to see the WAVE Awards continue to grow into the premier awards in the West, but we have created an event that brings together so many great friends and colleagues.
WAVE stands for Western Agents Votes of Excellence, and we started the awards for many of the same reasons that TravelAge West was founded: The travel industry in the West is so important and unique, that it deserves its own voice.
When TravelAge West was launched in 1969, much was made of the “East Coast elites” and how they just didn’t understand our tight-knit travel community. Today, we might call that mind-set an “East Coast media bias,” and that attitude was used back then as a rallying cry to unite the West Coast travel community.
You’ll have to decide for yourself if an East Coast media bias still exists, but one thing is certain: Nobody should underestimate the power of the Western travel market. Just days before our WAVE Awards gala, media outlets announced that California alone is the sixth-largest economy in the world, behind the U.S., China, Japan, Germany and the U.K. (Since then we’ve seen Brexit pass in England, so California might even move up a notch.)
When you consider the economic power of California, and then add to it the other states TravelAge West serves — Texas, Colorado, Arizona, Oregon, Washington, Utah, Nevada, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Hawaii and Alaska — only a fool would consider the West to be a secondary market.
I have to give credit to the publishers and editors that came before me: Clearly, they knew the Western travel industry was destined to become a force of its own. I’m privileged to keep that spirit alive with the WAVE Awards, and I look forward to continued growth in our region and our industry.