On the Road Again

2023 Summit Education Program

2 – 4:30 p.m.  Operator Forum: Shaping the Post-Pandemic World of Inbound Travel

(Ventana Room)

Facilitator: Lisa Simon, CEO/Executive Director, IITA

A Summit favorite – Inbound operators will have the opportunity for an open discussion with their peers about the state of inbound travel to the USA. With the restart of inbound travel, what challenges and opportunities will inbound operators face in 2023. Industry experts will join the discussion to discuss pertinent issues, like new legal considerations, sourcing new product and colloboration for seamless travel experiences.

Guest Speaker: Jeff Ment, Managing Partner, Ment Law Group

The pandemic changed today’s business practices – are your policies keeping up? Travel attorney Jeff Ment will join the Operator Forum to share the latest on legal matters, including what new terms and conditions you should consider incorporating into your agreements. Attendees will learn today’s legal do’s and don’ts, discover tools to protect your business, and hear the latest in the independent contractor/employee debate to determine what structure is best for you. There will be plenty of time for Q&A with Jeff.

Guest Speaker: Kurt Rausch, Chief of Commercial Services, National Park Service

Kurt Rausch will provide an update on the short- and long-term plans of the National Parks Service and the major national parks, including changes resulting from the pandemic, planned infrastructure improvements and managing visitation and congestion. Some parks are planning to make the “pandemic-temporary” reservation systems permanent, and NPS will revisit systemwide requirement for tour operator CUAs (Commercial Use Authorization). Plans for both include the opportunity for public and industry input before implementation.

2 – 3 p.m.  Supplier Forum: Shaping the Post-Pandemic World of Inbound Travel

(Shell Room)

Facilitator: Cathleen Johnson, President, Cathleen Johnson Tourism Consultants

Suppliers will have an open discussion to share pandemic-related challenges and opportunities as inbound travel resumes. Please join your fellow suppliers and share your experiences, challenges and outlook for recovery in the short-term and a sustainable travel industry in the long-term.

3:30 – 4:30 p.m.  DMO Forum: Shaping the Post-Pandemic World of Inbound Travel

(Shell Room)

Facilitator: Cathleen Johnson, President, Cathleen Johnson Tourism Consultants

DMOs will have an open discussion to share challenges and opportunities as inbound travel resumes. Please join your fellow DMOs and share your experiences, challenges and outlook for recovery in the short-term and a sustainable travel industry in the long-term. As this session follows the Supplier Forum, the facilitator will bring forward their insights from for discussion on how to cooperatively rebuild the destination for international travelers.

9 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.  General Sessions

(Mission Bay BC)

9 – 10 a.m.  Annual Meeting & State of the Industry

Annual Meeting

Presenters: Peter van Berkel, IITA Chairman & President, Travalco; Lisa Simon, CEO / Executive Director, IITA

Join IITA leadership to hear an update on association business, Board of Directors election and 2023 priorities.

State of the Travel Industry

Featuring: Geoff Freeman, President & CEO, U.S. Travel Association 

At the 2020 IITA Summit, Roger Dow, then-President and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, presented the state of the travel industry and the inbound market, including a newly reported coronavirus emerging in China. Three years later, U.S. Travel’s new President and CEO Geoff Freeman will provide a retrospective on the pandemic’s impact on travel and tourism and his vision for how the U.S. inbound travel industry rebounds.

10 – 10:45  a.m.    What Sustainability Means in the U.S. Travel Industry

(Mission Bay BC)

Moderator:  Arnie Weissmann, Editor-in-Chief, Travel Weekly

This session will explore what Sustainability means for USA travel and tourism and how the country is faring in terms of sustainable products and best practices. Hear from industry leaders how different travel sectors are addressing travelers’ demands for sustainability and working to ensure the travel industry contributes to a strong and viable future.

Panelists: Ron PohlPresident of International Operations and WorldHotels, BWH Hotel Group; Cathy Ritter, Founder & CEO, Better Destinations LLC; Greg Takehara, CEO, Tourism Cares; Peter van Berkel, President, Travalco / IITA Chairman

10:45 – 11 a.m.  BREAK

11 – 12:15 p.m. The Future of Travel & Tourism through a Global Lens

(Mission Bay BC)

Keynote: Helen Marano, Senior Vice-President, Longwoods International & Chairwoman, The Travel Foundation

From her combined experience in global and national travel and tourism, Helen Marano will look at the key trends, priorities, and opportunities ahead as international travel rebounds from the pandemic. Sustainability and inclusion must be at the heart of a more resilient and competitive global travel and tourism industry. Achieving success will require the engagement of all stakeholders from the early stages through the longer-term recovery to unlock the full growth potential of travel and tourism in years to come.

Panel Discussion

Moderator: Helen Marano

Panelists:  Stephanie M. Jones, MBA, Founder & CEO of the Cultural Heritage Economic Alliance, Inc.; Sherry RupertCEO, American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association, Inc. | AIANTA; Jeremy Sampson, CEO, The Travel Foundation

Helen will moderate a panel discussion with industry leaders on how to build a stronger industry by making smart choices for a more diverse, inclusive and sustainable travel industry.

12:30 – 1:30 p.m.  LUNCH

1:45 – 2:45 p.m.  Working With the Department of Commerce to Build Your International Business

(Shell Room)

Speakers: Aron Davidson, Global Travel & Tourism Team Leader at the U.S. Commercial Service; Julie Heizer, Deputy Director, National Travel & Tourism Office, U.S. Department of Commerce

Within the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration there are two offices that work diligently to increase exports and the state of the travel and tourism industry. The U.S. Commercial Service (USCS) offers companies a full range of services and expertise in international trade, including building international inbound travel exports. Travel destinations and companies can find assistance locally in more than 100 U.S. Commercial Service offices nationwide and in more than 70 international offices. The National Travel and Tourism Office is responsible for the international inbound travel and tourism statistics we need to make good marketing planning decisions and to help shape travel and tourism policy that best benefits the industry. Find out how you can work with these U.S. Government offices to reach multiple markets and maximize your inbound marketing and promotion dollars.

3 – 4 p.m.  Reshaping Inbound Travel Distribution – Why a Hybrid Model May Be the Answer

(Shell Room)

Moderator: Jennifer Ackerson, President, ALON Tourism Solutions   

At a time when the U.S. inbound travel industry was already facing serious challenges – including rapid changes in travel distribution – the pandemic intensified some issues particularly as organizations remain understaffed. Technology has been driving change in the travel distribution system in recent years, and while connectivity is a tool for solving distribution inefficiencies, it is often confused with dynamic rate distribution. Connectivity can handle both dynamic and static rate models – both of which are needed in today’s B2B inbound travel partnerships. This session will identify the benefits of both static and dynamic rate structures and when each is appropriate for B2B inbound travel business.

Panelists: Sandi Lackey, Senior Worldwide Sales Manager, Leisure Travel, BWH Hotel Group;  Lena Ross, Director of Product Development, America 4 You

9:00 – 12:15 a.m.        Education Program, sponsored by BWH Hotel Group

9:00 a.m. U.S. Government Updates on Inbound Travel

(Mission Bay BC)

Inbound Travel Exports – Big Business!

Featuring: Mark Keam, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Travel & Tourism, U.S. Department of Commerce

 Recently appointed to head Travel and Tourism for the U.S. government, Mark Keam will provide insight into inbound travel export goals and the impact inbound travel has on a robust economic recovery. DAS Keam will share the National Travel and Tourism Strategy which focuses federal efforts to support travel and tourism in the U.S.

 U.S. State Department: Visa Processing Update

Featuring: Julie Stufft, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Visa Services in the Bureau of Consular Affairs, U.S. Department of State

Julie Stufft, head of Visa Services for the State Department, will provide up-to-date information as to what the Administration is doing to mitigate the visa backlogs and other challenges they are facing as international builds and the U.S. tries to compete for those lucrative international visitors.

9:45 a.m.       BREAK

10:00 a.m.    Transforming the Climate Impact of Your Tours

(Mission Bay BC)

Presenters: Ivory Vogt, Program Manager, Climate & Resilience, and Kaitlyn Brajcich, Senior Manager, Communications & Training, Sustainable Travel International

Join experts from Sustainable Travel International to learn how to incorporate best practices into your travel products and tours. You’ll hear:

  • How tourism contributes to climate change
  • How tour operators can calculate the carbon footprint of their trips
  • Reduction tips for tour operators and travelers
  • Demystifying what carbon offsets are and the value of our carbon offset portfolio
  • What Sustainable Travel International offers as their sustainability partners

10:00 a.m.     Rebuilding International Business and Managing the New Expectations

(Shell Room)

Moderator: Jeff Gayduk, Publisher, Inbound Insider / Premier Travel Media

At a time when the U.S. inbound travel industry was already facing serious challenges – declining global market share, rapid change in travel distribution, workforce churn and over-tourism – international travel came to a screeching halt, with essentially two years lost to the pandemic. Covid-19 has intensified these issues, adding even more confusion as the industry navigates the residual impacts on staff and service levels, inflation and supply chain disruptions. Hear from industry leaders about the challenges we face and the opportunities ahead. 

Panelists: Julie Coker, CEO, San Diego Tourism Authority; Fred Dixon, CEO, NYC & Company

10:45 a.m.   The Path to Sustainability and Meaningful Travel Experiences

(Mission Bay BC)

Moderators: Cathleen Johnson, CEO, Cathleen Johnson Tourism Consultants; and John Sutherland, Director of Community Impact, Tourism Cares

The demand for meaningful travel is a global trend for travelers looking to work with companies that are environmentally and socially responsible and both feature and respect local communities and cultures. Our speakers will discuss what constitutes “meaningful travel” and how to identify businesses and products that meet travelers’ expectations.

Panelists: Terry Gifford, Owner, Willowbrook Manor; and Stacia Morfin, CEO, Nez Perce Tourism

10:45 a.m.   Insights into Aviation’s Recovery

(Shell Room)

Moderator:  Hubertus Funke, Executive Vice President & Chief Tourism Officer at San Francisco Travel Association

With the pandemic’s disastrous effect on air travel, what challenges and threats lay ahead? What changes can we expect in marketing/sales strategies and distribution? Will shifts in route networks be temporary or long-term? Join our panel of aviation experts as they discuss the key drivers of demand for air travel moving into 2023, how airports have changed their aviation development playbook, and what airlines’ priorities are for selecting destinations to service.

Panel: Hampton Jennings Brown, IAP, Vice President – CRO, San Diego International Airport; Athar Khan, Director, International Specialty Sales, Delta Air Lines; Timothy Liu, Managing Director, Sales Planning and Effectiveness, Air Canada

 11:30 a.m. America’s National Parks: Managing Visitation for Sustainability

(Mission Bay BC)

Moderator: Rafael Villanueva, Managing Director, Beyond Global Solutions

Panelists: Quintin Blair, Vice President: Leisure Travel Development at Blair Hotels; Jason Murray, President, Southwest Adventure Tours; Kurt Rausch, Chief of Commercial Services, National Park Service

With visitor numbers at an all-time high, badly needed repairs and infrastructure upgrades, and climate change posing an increasing threat to our national parks, managing visitation takes a village to protect our parks for future generations. NPS Commercial Services Chief Kurt Rausch will provide an update on the short- and long-term plans of the National Parks Service, and our panel will share the roles of NPS, DMOs and inbound operators in collaborating to find mutually beneficial solutions that will ensure the best possible visitor experiences.  

11:30 a.m.   Top B2B Social Media Trends That Will Change Your Digital Strategy

(Shell Room)

Featuring: Sheila Scarborough, Co-founder, Tourism Currents

Whether you’re building brand awareness, making new business contacts or communicating with existing clients, B2B social media strategies can help you meet your goals. Social media is always evolving, and travel professionals must adapt to new strategies and platforms that will effectively reach the right partners. Join social media expert Sheila Scarborough and learn which social media marketing trends matter now and how to use them to drive engagement and sales at your business.  

12:30 – 1:30 p.m.  LUNCH & Operator Panel, sponsored by Brand USA & IPW/U.S. Travel Association

Moderator: Shari Bailey, U.S. Travel Association

Panelists: Keri Edwards, CEO, Meeting Point North America; Nick Hentschel, COO, AmericanTours International; David Huang, Owner, Travel USA Express

1:45 – 2:45 p.m.  Reshaping Inbound Travel Distribution – Why a Hybrid Model May Be the Answer

(Shell Room)

Moderator: Jennifer Ackerson, President, ALON Tourism Solutions

Connectivity has been driving change in the travel distribution system in recent years, and while technology is a tool for solving distribution inefficiencies, it is often confused with dynamic rate distribution. Revenue managers are driving business models to dynamic rates only without understanding the value of the inbound operator’s business. Connectivity can handle both dynamic and static rate models – both of which are needed in today’s B2B inbound travel partnerships. This panel of inbound operators and hoteliers will discuss the benefits of both static and dynamic rate structures and when each is appropriate for B2B inbound travel business.

Panelists: Sandi Lackey, Senior Worldwide Sales Manager, Leisure Travel, BWH Hotel Group; Lena Ross, Director of Product Development, America 4 You

3 – 4 p.m.  Working With the Department of Commerce to Build Your International Business

(Shell Room)

Speakers: Aron Davidson, Global Travel & Tourism Team Leader at the U.S. Commercial Service; Julie Heizer, Deputy Director, National Travel & Tourism Office, U.S. Department of Commerce

Within the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration there are two offices that work diligently to increase exports and the state o the travel and tourism industry. The U.S. Commercial Service (USCS) offers companies a full range of services and expertise in international trade, including building international inbound travel exports. Travel destinations and companies can find assistance locally in more than 100 U.S. Commercial Service offices nationwide and in more than 70 international offices. The National Travel and Tourism Office is responsible for the international inbound travel and tourism statistics we need to make good marketing planning decisions and to help shape travel and tourism policy that best benefits the industry. Find out how you can work with both these U.S. Government offices to reach multiple markets and maximize your inbound marketing and promotion dollars.