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With the renaissance of travel agents comes the resurgence of one of its strongest advocates. The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) has been staging its own comeback, which includes holding its very first summit in Asia.
This year, more than 500 travel professionals will convene from Nov. 8-12 to promote Guiyang, China, the capital of the country’s Guizhou Province — which ASTA calls “China’s best-kept secret” — as well as to help member agents increase their expertise and attract a new breed of jetsetting clients.
"The goal is to offer agents an immersive destination experience somewhere unique where they can explore and expand their expertise and add a destination to their portfolio that will enthrall their clients," said Bob Duglin, vice president of business development for ASTA.
Here’s a look at some of the exciting things attendees can expect at the four-day event.
Items on the AgendaThe welcome reception — which will be hosted by Allan Wu, host of the television series “Amazing Race Asia” — will include vibrant performances to showcase the different cultures and traditions of Guizhou Province’s ethnic groups.
This will include an opening performance from the Kam Grand Choir — which was designated a UNESCO world-class intangible cultural heritage in 2009 — and a cultural dinner show that will include acrobatics, an ethnic dance that incorporates handcrafted costumes and silver ornaments and a wedding ceremony display.
Additionally, the Guizhou Tourism Development Commission and the Guiyang Tourism Development Committee will be showcasing their top local suppliers for two full days of trade show networking, according to Duglin.
“We’ll also have a number of ‘Lunch and Learns,’ roundtable engagement sessions and networking opportunities,” he said.
Participants will have opportunities for one-on-one, 15-minute appointments and five-minute roundtable conversations with Chinese suppliers, too. Information-gathering opportunities are also on the ticket, as well as keynote speeches delivered by speakers including Isabella Hou, CEO of Beyond Summits (an event sponsor), and a representative from China Southern Airlines, Asia's largest airline based on fleet size.
Immersion OpportunitiesThe ASTA China Summit is more than just an opportunity to network and leave as a certificated Guizhou Province Specialist. It’s also a fantastic way for agents to get to know a new, fairly offbeat destination.
“Attending the summit here is a chance for agents to explore a part of undiscovered China, as these off-the-beaten path destinations are increasingly more important for an agent to have under their belt,” Duglin said.
For this purpose, ASTA has curated a menu of four-day fam trips that participants have the option to take before or after the summit.
At $299 per person (based on double occupancy), summit attendees can choose from five different trips that will allow them to visit several cities, tour natural attractions and historical sites — including the Tianlong Ancient Garrison village — and participate in cultural experiences such as an ethnic singing and dancing show.
“An important part of any event that’s taking place in a captivating destination such as Guiyang is being able to experience the local cuisine and culture,” Duglin said.