Photos by Victoria Falk/IQ Inc.
By Victoria Falk
After the disruption that the Covid-19 pandemic brought to the travel industry, New Yorkers were pleased to welcome the Travel and Adventure Show to Jacob Javits Convention Center. All paid tickets for the event were reportedly sold out. It was the first major travel expo held in the New York City convention center since the start of the pandemic. The 3-day event was held Friday, March 18, 2022, through Sunday, March 20, 2022.
Major sponsors for the event included representatives from the travel and tourism boards for Fort Meyers Islands, Beaches, & Neighborhoods; the Dominican Republic, Israel, ProColombia, and Croatia, and Travel Market Report: Voice of the Travel Advisor.
Travel industry and media industry partners lent their support to the event also.
The Travel Trade Summit presented on Friday, March 18, 2022, was open to the media and travel professionals. There were keynote sessions led by top executives in the travel industry and travel celebrities, such as Kathy Craighead, President and CEO of Cruise Line International Association (CLIA); Erin Francis-Cummings, President and CEO of Destination Analysts; Eben Peck, Vice President of American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA); Terry Dale, President and CEO of U.S. Tour Operators Association (USTOA); Samantha Brown, Host of PBS’ Samantha Brown’s Places to Love; Pauline Frommer, Editor of the Frommer’s Guides, and Peter Greenberg, CBS News Travel Editor. There were also breakout sessions that provided insider knowledge on how travel is changing and how travel advisors can benefit from those changes.
Anne Moebes and Dan McCarthy of Travel Market Report were two of the moderators for panel discussions taking place during the expo. The sessions were well attended, with travel advisors and media representatives listening attentively to up-to-date information about travel trends, tools, and tips to help them succeed as the world is reopening for global travel. Travel advisors had an opportunity to get their questions answered on the spot by experts in the travel industry. Following the information sessions was an Official VIP reception and the show floor grand opening. Travel advisors, media, speakers, and other travel trade professionals had the opportunity to mingle over appetizers, beer, and wine. There was a shared sentiment amongst the excited participants that “…it’s your time to travel. Travel is back.”
Luz Carty, a Bronx, New York travel agent, was happy she attended the Trade Summit. “My travel business suffered during the pandemic, and this is a great opportunity for me to get the latest information I need to stay competitive. I have groups wanting to travel, and I attended the summit to make sure I’m giving my travel clients the best quality service.”
Cynthia Ezigbo-Cullum attended the trade summit with her sideline business partners from Intele Travel.
“I’m here for the information to be able to sell to my clients. You need to keep up with the changes. I want to learn as much as I can,” said Cynthia, as her colleagues agreed.
Saturday, March 19, 2022, was exciting as the grand exhibition floor opened to the general public. There were cultural performances, exhibitors representing top travel brands worldwide, and a few exhibitors with products to help enhance your travel experiences. Janet Ryan, trailblazer and founder of SpectraSpray Global, was there with her oral wellness sprays and lifestyle kits to help travelers stay well. The sprays are unique and travel-friendly. Ms. Ryan shared, “People want the sprays. Now they are available in around 20 spas and resorts around the country.” During the expo, Ms. Ryan sold her kits and gave some away as gifts.
The Caribbean region was well represented with exhibitors for Jamaica, St. Lucia, Bahamas, Bermuda, Barbados, Aruba, Martinique, Curacao, the Virgin Islands, Guadeloupe Islands, Grenada, Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, and more. People came to the expo for great deals on upcoming trips and to learn the latest travel tips. They got all of that and more. Many of the exhibitors representing the Caribbean promoted deep travel discounts and allowed the show attendees to win money, free trips, and other prizes.
Travel Professionals enjoyed a special breakfast, and there was a fantastic presentation by the International Destination Sponsor, the Dominican Republic. They raffled off 17 free trips to the Dominican Republic, and the lucky travel professionals were thrilled. Dennis Mott Jr., CEO of DMJ Travel and Gifts from California, was lucky to win a trip to Occidental, an all-inclusive luxury resort in Punta Cana.
“I love to travel, so I decided to fly to New York when I heard about the event. The travel training, I received was worth the trip. But it makes it extra special for me to win this trip. I’m happy I came to this event,” said Mott.
Rhoda Basley, CEO of Wanderful Travels, out of Brooklyn, New York, was also happy she attended the expo. “I got here early today because I didn’t want to miss the travel training. I just transitioned from working with a host agency to becoming an Independent Travel Agent, so I need to stay updated on the best travel tips and trends. I want to create the best experiences for my travel customers.”
Ms. Basley was selected to join in on Caribbean American Weekly’s exclusive interview with U.S. Tourism Director, Ms. Maria Jose Abuabara, who represented show sponsor, ProColombia. Ms. Basley told Ms. Abuabara that she has a social group of more than 100 people who want to travel to Colombia, but they have never been there before and want Ms. Basley to accompany them. Ms. Abuabara informed her about how ProColombia supports travel agents in booking their clients to Colombia. She said they’ve “created a rewards program along with Travel Agent Connect. They offer travel solutions, training, and support all year long, with a content library. They reward the work of travel agents selling Colombia. Fam trips are offered all year long. It’s very important that the tourist travels Colombia as a local.”
Abuabara spoke passionately about Colombia. She said about the vast offerings held in Colombia by way of biodiversity and its new tourism strategy of dividing itself into six regions based on cultural and natural boundaries. “Colombia has something for everyone – from baby boomers to millennials. Millennials are the biggest group.”
When asked about airlines to Colombia, Ms. Abuabara shared that “…United, Delta, JetBlue, Avianca, and American Airlines all offer flights to Colombia. After the interview, Ms. Basley was so excited that she went to the ProColombia exhibitor table and signed up for their travel agent rewards program.
On Sunday. On March 20, 2022, several people were returning to the expo to see more of what they missed the day before. However, many people attended the expo for the first time and hoped to find their next great vacation. As the expo was winding down and preparing to close, there were still hopeful attendees rushing in through the entrance doors. They were streaming across the aisles of the expo hall and trying to grab whatever travel brochures they could. But it was time to go home, and attendees who had been enjoying themselves did not want to leave. A friendly announcement thanked everyone for coming and letting them know the show was over. But there were still attendees at the exhibitor booths trying to get their last few questions answered, looking for vacation plans, etc. Then there was a final announcement reminding the attendees that the show was over, thanking them for attending, and assuring them that the Travel and Adventure Show will be back at the Jacob Javits Convention Center again next year.