Educational Seminars

As part of the 2017 IITA Summit in Biloxi, Mississippi, a variety of fun and informative educational breakout sessions were held, as well as specialty forums and workshops.  Below you will find the details on the seminars and presenters for each session.

Air Travel Forum: Insights on Inbound Travel to the U.S. 

  •  Moderator: Alfredo Gonzalez, Visit Florida
  • Panelists: 
    • TJ Jackson, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
    • Patricia Breslauer, Emirates
    • Fernando Harb, Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau
    • Erik Hansen, US Travel Association

The vast majority of international visitors to the U.S. arrive by air, so understanding the dynamics of air travel is critical to the inbound travel professional. This session will provide an update in what’s happening, what’s expected and how to partner with air carriers to increase international inbound travel to the U.S.

Ask the Operator

  • Moderator: Jennifer Lloyd, Starwood Hotels
  • Panelists: 
    • Pia Jayatilake, Event Travel Soluations
    • Jay Santos, Grupo TREND
    • Katsuhisa Seki, JTB

This session is perfect for suppliers wanting to know more about the inbound tourism market. This will be a great question and answer session that will provide information for working with international inbound tour operators and understanding the needs for the various markets in which they work.

Crisis Communications in the Digital Age – Get Your Plan Off the Shelf and Ready for Action!

  • Presenter: Cathleen Johnson, Percepture

At a time when terrorism, criminal acts, civil unrest and activism can turn from local to national or even global issues in minutes, travel professionals face new challenges in communicating and responding quickly to events affecting travel and tourism. In the digital age, being prepared, responding quickly and reacting to what others are saying regarding issues—beyond natural disasters—is more important than ever. Negative media coverage and social media commentary can be instantaneous and 24/7. The media, government officials, law enforcement, first responders and talking heads are all seeking to put their own spin on the situation, which can often run counter to the goals of travel and tourism organizations.

Emerging Markets: Tapping New Markets in India and ASEAN 

  • Presenter: Robert Stackpole, US Commercial Service

Travel from emerging countries to the United States is growing rapidly. However, in many ways the US inbound travel industry is ill-equipped to handle travelers from these areas due to a lack of understanding of their travel needs. The US Commercial Service can assist companies in tailoring their marketing approach given cultural differences. This session will identify the specific programs US Commercial Service can offer to help grow your business.

Forecast for International Travel 2017-2021

  • Presenter: Ron Erdmann, US Department of Commerce, National Travel and Tourism Office

The US Department of Commerce’s National Travel and Tourism Office provides products and services to enhance the international competitiveness of the US travel and tourism industry and increase its 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. 

Hotels Uncovered: The Art of Negotiating

  • Moderator: Rafael Villanueva, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority
  • Panelists: 
    • Quintin Blair, Blair Hotels
    • Mary-Kate Butta, MGM Resorts International
    • Paul Mason, Wyndham Hotel Group

The hotel environment continues to change from contracting to booking technology and every hotel or brand handles things differently. In this session, attendees can ask their burning questions of hotel representatives from multiple levels: property sales, corporate sales and revenue management.

LGBT Tourism and the Impact of Religious Freedom Laws 

  • Presenters:

    • Malcolm Smith, Senior Vice President/IPW General Manager, US Travel Association
    • Denny Edwards, President and CEO, Raleigh CVB
    • Jim McMichael, Las Vegas Convention and Visitor’s Authority, IGLTA

The global LGBT market generates more than $200 billion in tourism spend annually. The US is the number one country destination for LGBT travelers worldwide and New York City is the top city destination for the market. Studies show that giving LGBT people full equality is not only a social issue, it can have substantial economic benefits as well. About 1.3 million additional LGBT visitors are expected to choose to vacation in the U.S. over the coming three years as a direct result of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 same-sex marriage ruling, and these tourists will spend at least $4.25 billion during that period. Recently, some states have passed Religious Freedom laws directly as a result of the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage, that could jeopardize travel and tourism to those states. This session will share the results of two recent studies: the US Travel Association study on the impact these laws can have on travel and tourism and the UNWTO global LGBT study. 

National Parks: Helping Protect America’s Best Idea

  • Moderator: Steve Richer, Richer Advisors
  • Panelists: 
    • Donald Leadbetter, National Park Service
    • Gary Schluter, Rocky Mountain Holiday Tours
    • James Scoon, Travel Wyoming

Our national parks play a significant role in attracting international visitors, benefiting operators, destinations and suppliers serving international markets. However, many parks are dealing with “over-crowding” and looking for ways to limit visitation, which could include individual park regulations and inconsistent fee structures. Join us as our panel discusses how the National Park Service and the inbound travel industry can work together to ensure our visitors continue to enjoy America’s Best Idea.

The MICE Market  

  • Moderator:  Isaac Pacheco, Hornblower Cruises and Events
  • Panelists: 
    • Makiko Matsuda Healy, NYC & Company
    •  Jordi Zarroca, Cosmopolitan Incentives
    • Constanza Thornton, Teneo Hospitality

The MICE (Meeting Incentives Conferences Exhibitions) market has historically taken a backseat to more traditional forms of inbound travel, however this niche market is rapidly growing in influence and financial impact.  This seminar will provide answers from a panel of industry experts hailing from various sectors, in regard to questions about the economic impact of MICE specific travel, markets and regions providing the greatest numbers of these types of travelers, and forecasts for the future.

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

IITA invites Inbound Tour Operator (ITO) members to an open discussion about the state of inbound travel to the U.S. to discuss near- and long-term issues confronting the industry. With dynamic changes in business models, technology, and distribution channels, inbound tour operators face challenges like never before. ITOs will get a sneak peek at IITA’s strategic plan and have the chance to weigh in on matters critical to advancing inbound travel. Please join us for this operator-only session to connect and collaborate on shaping the future – together we can discover a world of possibilities.

Understanding the LATAM Market 

  • Moderator: Rick Still, La Cita
  • Panelists: 
    • Gabriel Martinez, SeaWorld
    • Ron Erdmann, US Department of Commerce, National Travel and Tourism Office
    • Jay Santos, Grupo TREND

In 2015, Latin America (visitors from Mexico, Central, South America & the Caribbean) generated a record 26.6 million visitors of the record 77.5 million arrivals to the United States, more than 34% of all visitors to the country, according to the National Travel and Tourism Office. Spending in the United States by all Latin countries generated a record $60.1 billion of the record $246 billion spent by international travelers, up 94% since 2006. This session will provide an update on the hottest Latin markets for the U.S. and focus on how to meet, build partnerships and facilitate inbound travel from LATAM.

Educational Seminars Sponsored By:

Best Western Hotels