Future Leaders in Travel Retreat Engages the Next Generation of Travel Professionals Virtually

Future Leaders in Travel Retreat, powered by TravelAge West, took place Aug 31 - Sept 2, 2020, with advisor and supplier participants logging into the event from their own homes. Future Leaders is dedicated to connecting the next generation of travel buyers and sellers in order to move the industry forward. That goal was accomplished despite the event not being able to be held live in Aspen, CO as originally planned due to the COIVD-19 pandemic.

"It was critical for us to bring together this group of advisors and suppliers for Future Leaders," said Mindy Poder, Executive Editor, TravelAge West. "We knew that the uplifting and collaborative nature of the Future Leaders community would prove valuable for the many young travel professionals working through the first major crisis of their professional careers."

The event had an impact on many attendees from the beginning. "Before Future Leaders, I was in a rut and feeling lost," said Lauren Doyle, The Travel Mechanic. "Within an hour of this conference, my ideas started flowing and I was feeling the virtual energy."

The third-annual event included 52 travel advisors and 13 suppliers for a total of 65 industry professionals participating in the first two days of the conference. The travel advisors in attendance were selected through an application process requiring advisors to demonstrate their personal brand, share thoughts on the current state of the industry, and provide professional references.

The first two days of the event included small group meetings between advisors and suppliers, networking, and discussion-based educational programming.

The meetings were a pleasant surprise to three-time supplier participant, Maja Gudelj of Olive Tree Escapes. "I wasn't sure how the virtual meetings would work compared to a traditional live conference with face-to-face meetings," said Gudelj. "During my meetings with advisors, everyone was so much more relaxed, and it was actually a more personable way to connect because we were basically in each other's homes."

Collaborative content sessions reflected this year's theme, "Strength in Community," and focused on topics such as prioritizing paying yourself, communicating in a crisis, navigating terms and conditions, improving the lack of diversity in the travel industry, and evolving the supplier/advisor relationship. A keynote speech from Orlando Ashford, former president of Holland America Line, focused on the importance of mentorship, making kindness part of your personal brand, and embracing your unique point of difference.

Participation from attendees during the educational programming was extremely high through the use of chats and polls. According to repeat advisor attendee Kacie Darden of Blue Pineapple Travel, the virtual event's ability to keep attendees engaged was exceptional. "I was really impressed by the content and experiences. In a world of being completely exhausted with online meetings, the Future Leaders in Travel Retreat was able to raise the bar and make the content and experience engaging, informative, and inspirational," said Darden.

Due to the virtual nature of the event, an additional 85 advisors were included in the educational programming on the third and final day of the conference.

Over the course of three days, attendees made over 1,000 connections within the event platform and exchanged more than 1,500 messages with one another.

Future Leaders has plans to return to The Aspen Meadows Resort in Aspen, CO on Aug. 30- Sept. 1, 2021. For more information, and to be notified when advisor applications open, please visit www.futureleadersintravel.com. For supplier inquiries, contact Audrey Wood at [email protected] or 310-954-2522.

For 50 years, TravelAge West has been the trusted voice of the travel industry in the Western U.S. With award-winning writing and design, the publication brings the best of travel to life for readers. The magazine's first-hand, on-site reports and fresh destination coverage is a valued resource for travel advisors. TravelAge West is a division of Secaucus, New Jersey-based Northstar Travel Group, the largest business-to-business travel publisher in the world.

About Northstar Travel Group

Northstar Travel Group is the leading information services, event, data, and marketing solutions company serving the global travel industry. Northstar’s extensive audience covers all segments of travel, including leisure, business, meetings, sports, incentives, hospitality, and travel technology. Northstar is also the majority shareholder in Inntopia, the leading e-commerce software, marketing cloud, and business intelligence company serving the mountain destination, golf, activities, and hospitality markets. Based in Rutherford, NJ, the company has five offices across the U.S., UK, and Singapore. For more information about Northstar’s solutions, audiences, and brands, visit www.northstartravelgroup.com. Northstar Travel Group is owned by funds managed by EagleTree Capital.