It Starts with Us

2020 Summit Education Programs

Monday, February 3

3 – 4:45 p.m.

Operator Forum: Shaping the Future of Inbound Travel (Operators Only)

Sponsored by Flywire
Royal Palm Ballroom

Lisa Simon

Facilitator: Lisa Simon, IITA

A Summit favorite – This Forum provides inbound operators the opportunity to have an open discussion with their peers about the state of inbound travel to the USA. With dynamic changes in technology, market share and distribution channels, inbound operators continue to navigate a volatile industry. This year…

  • Discuss how connectivity is changing business models and help shape technology standards that benefit operators;
  • Hear an update on NPS commercial use authorizations (CUAs); and
  • Advise IITA leadership on other matters critical to your business.

3 – 3:45 p.m.

Supplier Forum: Shaping the Future of Inbound Travel

Mediterranean Palm

Cathleen Johnson
Facilitator: Cathleen Johnson, CJ Tourism Consultants

For the past few years, the Summit has featured an Operator Forum from which IITA has gleaned important insight into what inbound operators are experiencing and expecting in this ever-changing industry. As a result, this year Suppliers will have similar opportunities to share challenges and opportunities they anticipate in the foreseeable future. Please join your fellow suppliers and share your experiences, challenges and outlook for the coming years.

4 – 4:45 p.m.

DMO Forum: Shaping the Future of Inbound Travel

Mediterranean Palm
Cathleen Johnson
Facilitator: Cathleen Johnson, CJ Tourism Consultants

For the past few years, the Summit has featured an Operator Forum from which IITA has gleaned important insight into what inbound operators are experiencing and expecting in this ever-changing industry. As a result, this year DMOs will have similar opportunities to share challenges and opportunities they anticipate in the foreseeable future. Additionally, as the DMO Forum follows the Supplier Forum, facilitator Cathleen Johnson will bring forward the insight from DMO constituents for discussion. Please join your fellow DMOs and share your experiences, challenges and outlook for the coming years.

Tuesday, February 4

8:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

General Sessions

Majestic Palm Ballroom

8:45 a.m.: It Starts with Us! Crafting magical experiences for international travelers to the USA

Sponsored by Cosmopolitan Incentives

Energize your day with Sewa Beats and explore how the power of music, rhythm, and interactive drumming can change the way you work. Attendees will connect with themselves and each other in a new way and demonstrate through the metaphor of drumming that they have the ability to manage change and create unique experiences for our international visitors.

It Starts with US! is more than a theme. This session encourages participants to work together, engaging their mind, bodies, and team dynamics needed to sell the USA.

Click below to Listen to the 2020 IITA Summit Recording.

9:45 a.m.: Annual Business Meeting

Gary SchluterLisa Simon

Presenters: Gary Schluter, IITA Chairman; Lisa Simon, Executive Director

Join IITA leadership to hear an update on association business, Board of Directors election and 2020 priorities.

Click below to Listen to the 2020 IITA Summit Recording.

10:15 a.m.: Travel Industry Outlook in 2020 & Beyond

Roger Dow

Featuring: Roger Dow, President & CEO, U.S. Travel Association

U.S. Travel Association President & CEO Roger Dow will discuss the state of the travel industry and the inbound market, including the U.S. share of international travelers, national parks funding and other issues that will impact tour operators over the next few years.

11 a.m.: Vision for the Future of Inbound Travel

Sponsored by IHG

Elliott Ferguson
Keynote/Moderator: Elliott Ferguson, President & CEO, Destination DC

Fred DixonSteve HayesNick Hentschel
Thought Leader Panel:

  • Fred Dixon, President & CEO, NYC & Company
  • Steve Hayes, CEO, Visit St. Pete/Clearwater
  • Nick Hentschel, COO, AmericanTours International
  • Cathy Ritter, Director, Colorado Tourism Organization

As head of the nation’s capital DMO and chair of the U.S. Travel Association, Elliott Ferguson will share his vision and priorities for inbound travel to the U.S., including welcoming international travelers and capturing new market share, championing policies and partnerships that expand travel, and developing a culture of inclusion that represents our workforce and global travelers visiting the U.S. Following his keynote, Elliott will moderate a panel of thought leaders for perspective from some of the country’s key destinations and products for international visitors.

Click below to Listen to the 2020 IITA Summit Recording.

1:45 – 2:45 p.m.

Selling US Destinations and Attractions After a Crisis

Date & Blue Palm
Cathleen Johnson
Presenter: Cathleen Johnson, CJ Tourism Consultants

As we face an increasing number of crises throughout the U.S., whether it’s weather related, shootings in “safe” tourist areas or accidents causing loss of life, destination management firms, managers of major hotels and attractions and tour operators all have to be ready to face the aftermath. Places like Puerto Rico and the Bahamas, fire-raged communities in California, nightclubs and school communities that have suffered the shock of random shootings — they have all had to rise like a Phoenix to heal from their wounds and rebuild tourism. In this session, we will hear from some colleagues in the industry who have been resilient in the face of disaster and learn how they have been able to bring tourists back to their doors. Then, we will review the steps you can take in advance of any crisis to be prepared and measures you can take to get back out and sell with confidence following any crisis.

Click below to Listen to the 2020 IITA Summit Recording.

It’s Vegas Baby! Get Ready for 2020 IPW

Mediterranean Palm
Ruth Mensch
Moderator: Ruth Mensch, US Travel Association

Gary SchluterPeter Van BerkelRafael Villanueva
Panelists:

  • Gary Schluter, Rocky Mountain Holiday Tours
  • Peter van Berkel, Travalco
  • Rafael Villanueva, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority

IPW/US Travel’s Ruth Mensch will share what’s new for this year’s IPW in Las Vegas and facilitate a panel of IPW veterans who will share their expertise for how to maximize the business opportunities during the trade show.

Click below to Listen to the 2020 IITA Summit Recording.

3 – 4 p.m.

Is your destination on a path to Sustainability?

Mediterranean Palm

Greg Takehara

Presenter: Greg Takehara, Tourism Cares

We depend on destinations for our livelihoods. But with neglected historic sites, declining natural resources, and the impact of over-tourism, now, more than ever, destinations need investment and clear paths to sustainability in order for their communities to thrive and their inbound business to grow. Join us for this session to hear from Tourism Cares how we can harness the collective power of the industry for a common purpose, and tackle some of the seemingly unmanageable issues facing destinations and the inbound travel industry.

Click below to Listen to the 2020 IITA Summit Recording.

IITA’s Inbound Insider Steps to Success

Date & Blue Palm

Jennifer Ackerson

Presenter: Jennifer Ackerson, ALON Marketing Group

DMOs and suppliers develop international tourism at considerable investments but often find it difficult to demonstrate ROI. IITA’s Steps to Success program™, powered by ALON Marketing Group, provides training and education to DMOs and their stakeholders to work with U.S.-based inbound operators and grow their share of the nation’s international inbound travel business.

Join Jennifer for this inspiring session to learn how the IITA Inbound Insider Steps to Success™ program can catapult your destination’s ability to effectively market to the inbound market.

Click below to Listen to the 2020 IITA Summit Recording.

4:15 – 5:15 p.m.

Forecast for International Travel to the U.S.

Mediterranean Palm

Julie Heizer

Presenter: Julie Heizer, U.S. Department of Commerce, National Travel and Tourism Office

The US National Travel and Tourism Office serves to enhance the international competitiveness of the US travel and tourism industry and increase the nation’s exports, thereby creating US employment and economic growth. This session will examine the US inbound tourism forecast from the leading source countries and examine “up and coming” sources of leisure travelers to the United States.

Click below to Listen to the 2020 IITA Summit Recording.

Wednesday, February 5

9 – 9:45 a.m.

General Session

Sponsored by BWH Hotel Group

Majestic Palm Ballroom

How Connectivity is Reshaping Travel Distribution

Jeff ErnstFriedman

Featuring: Jeff ErnstFriedman, Managing Director, OpenTravel Alliance

Once found only behind the scenes, technology is now front and center to the traveler’s experience. From phones now functioning as boarding passes, hotel keys, and payment options, travelers have an expectation that technology will play a role in their journey. To meet those expectations, the electronic exchange of business information and data must be seamless among all sectors of the travel industry. The OpenTravel Alliance is a not-for-profit trade association established to engineer open specifications to ensure traveler and supplier information flow smoothly through the complex global travel distribution system. Jeff walks you through how a highly-connected – or interoperable – collaborative industry allows tour operators to provide the enhanced and personalized customer experience the modern traveler expects.

Click below to Listen to the 2020 IITA Summit Recording.

10 – 11 a.m.

Breakout Session I

Sponsored by Best Western Hotels and Resorts

How to Advance Your Business through Connectivity

Mediterranean Palm

Jeff ErnstFriedman

Moderator: Jeff ErnstFriedman, OpenTravel Alliance

Nick HentschelSandi LackeyPaul Mason

Panelists:

  • Brian Bell, LinksRez
  • Nick Hentschel, AmericanTours International
  • Sandi Lackey, BWH Hotel Group
  • Paul Mason, Wyndham Hotels and Resorts

In this age of evolving technology, each travel sector has its own objectives and strategies for distribution connectivity. Hear from our panel about how their companies have integrated technology into their business models to achieve their objectives and increase profitability. You’ll learn how to maximize the benefits and avoid the pitfalls of interoperability in business-to-business operations.

Click below to Listen to the 2020 IITA Summit Recording.

Flying High! A 36,000 Foot View of the Aviation Industry

Date & Blue Palm

Alfredo GonzalezWill Berchelmann
Presenters:

  • Alfredo Gonzalez, AG Consulting
  • Will Berchelmann, Volaire Aviation

The airline industry is going through as many changes as the hospitality industry. With the importance of the airlines in the development of international tourism programs, it’s important to understand these trends and how they will impact the US in 2020 and beyond. The presenters will provide a health check on the industry overall, and touch on the following:

  • Boeing and the 737 Max
  • Airside development and tourism development
  • Small and medium size airports and their role in international travel
  • Multiple agency support for airline service (CVBs, airports and tourism offices)

Click below to Listen to the 2020 IITA Summit Recording.

Converting Younger Generation Travelers to “Inbound Insiders”

Sabal & Canary Palm

Cathleen Johnson

Presenter: Cathleen Johnson, CJ Tourism Consultants

Perhaps the greatest advantage for IITA members in their quest to attract younger international travelers is your knowledge, expertise and “Inside Information” about U.S. destinations. If we know one thing about younger generations, particularly Millennials, it is their intense desire for authenticity and their aversion to “Been There Done That!” This session will take a look at the trends and habits of younger travelers and examine ways you can tailor your product and your marketing to take them off the beaten track and make them real Inbound Insiders too!

Click below to Listen to the 2020 IITA Summit Recording.

11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m

Breakout Session II

Sponsored by Best Western Hotels and Resorts

How to Survive and Thrive in a Disruptive Marketplace: Latin America

Mediterranean Palm

Rick Still

Moderator: Rick Still, La Cita de las Americas

Phil HannesAna FernandezJoab Gesell-FloresRay Thomas

Panelists:

  • Phil Hannes, San Diego Tourism Authority
  • Ana Fernandez, Visit St. Pete/Clearwater
  • Joab Gesell-Flores, Dream Vacation Builders
  • Ray Thomas, City Tours

Many in the travel and tourism industry are unaware of the potential and unique business opportunities with the Latin American market. Join our panel of experts to learn how inbound operators, DMOs and travel suppliers can collaborate on innovative products and build relationships that get real results and solid ROI from LATAM inbound markets.

Click below to Listen to the 2020 IITA Summit Recording.

Ask the Operator about Experiential Travel

Date & Blue Palm

Lena Ross

Moderator: Lena Ross, America4You

Pia JayatilakePam Upton
Panelists:

  • Pia Jayatilake, Travalco
  • Jason Murray, Southwest Adventure Tours
  • Pam Upton, Bluegrass Tours

Experiential travel continues to be a popular trend among travelers. They want to experience a destination in new, unique, out of the box ways. Travelers want to actively engage with the local culture rather than just observe it. As travel professionals, how do you provide this experience? What does the future in this segment look like? How do requests differ across markets?

Click below to Listen to the 2020 IITA Summit Recording.

How and why the LGBTQ+ Market Can Grow Your Business

Sabal & Canary Palm

Daniel Schwartz

Moderator: Daniel Schwartz, San Francisco Travel Association

LoAnn HaldenRachel Covello
Panelists:

  • LoAnn Halden, International LGBTQ+ Travel Association
  • Rachel Covello, OUTCOAST

Expand your knowledge of the lucrative L.G.B.T.Q.+ tourism sector and hear the latest trends, research data and best practices. Examine case studies to learn what are effective L.G.B.T.Q.+ marketing strategies for DMOs, tour suppliers, and operators. Finally, gain insight into how organizations’ focus on L.G.B.T.Q.+ local initiatives can help increase visitor arrivals.

Click below to Listen to the 2020 IITA Summit Recording.

1:45 – 2:45 p.m.

Forecast for International Travel to the U.S.

Mediterranean Palm

Julie Heizer

Presenter: Julie Heizer, U.S. Department of Commerce, National Travel and Tourism Office

The US National Travel and Tourism Office serves to enhance the international competitiveness of the US travel and tourism industry and increase the nation’s exports, thereby creating US employment and economic growth. This session will examine the US inbound tourism forecast from the leading source countries and examine “up and coming” sources of leisure travelers to the United States.

IITA’s Inbound Insider Steps to Success

Date & Blue Palm

Jennifer Ackerson

Presenter: Jennifer Ackerson, ALON Marketing Group

DMOs and suppliers develop international tourism at considerable investments but often find it difficult to demonstrate ROI. IITA’s Steps to Success program™, powered by ALON Marketing Group, provides training and education to DMOs and their stakeholders to work with U.S.-based inbound operators and grow their share of the nation’s international inbound travel business.

Join Jennifer for this inspiring session to learn how the IITA Inbound Insider Steps to Success™ program can catapult your destination’s ability to effectively market to the inbound market.

3– 4 p.m.

Selling US Destinations and Attractions After a Crisis

Date & Blue Palm

Cathleen Johnson

Presenter: Cathleen Johnson, CJ Tourism Consultants

As we face an increasing number of crises throughout the U.S., whether it’s weather related, shootings in “safe” tourist areas or accidents causing loss of life, destination management firms, managers of major hotels and attractions and tour operators all have to be ready to face the aftermath. Places like Puerto Rico and the Bahamas, fire-raged communities in California, nightclubs and school communities that have suffered the shock of random shootings — they have all had to rise like a Phoenix to heal from their wounds and rebuild tourism. In this session, we will hear from some colleagues in the industry who have been resilient in the face of disaster and learn how they have been able to bring tourists back to their doors. Then, we will review the steps you can take in advance of any crisis to be prepared and measures you can take to get back out and sell with confidence following any crisis

It’s Vegas Baby! Get Ready for 2020 IPW

Mediterranean Palm

Ruth Mensch

Moderator: Ruth Mensch, US Travel Association

Gary SchluterPeter Van BerkelRafael Villanueva

Panelists:

  • Gary Schluter, Rocky Mountain Holiday Tours
  • Peter van Berkel, Travalco
  • Rafael Villanueva, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority

IPW/US Travel’s Ruth Mensch will share what’s new for this year’s IPW in Las Vegas and facilitate a panel of IPW veterans who will share their expertise for how to maximize the business opportunities during the trade show.

4:15 – 5:15 p.m.

Is your destination on a path to Sustainability?

Mediterranean Palm

Greg Takehara

Presenter: Greg Takehara, Tourism Cares

We depend on destinations for our livelihoods. But with neglected historic sites, declining natural resources, and the impact of over-tourism, now, more than ever, destinations need investment and clear paths to sustainability in order for their communities to thrive and their inbound business to grow. Join us for this session to hear from Tourism Cares how we can harness the collective power of the industry for a common purpose, and tackle some of the seemingly unmanageable issues facing destinations and the inbound travel industry.