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Travel Exchange is designed for business, but you can also find your next solution or big idea here! Watch this page for updated information about topics and speakers. Expect to see some familiar faces of highly rated presenters as well as a batch of new experts who’ll be riding into Shreveport for TREX ’23. And of course, you can count on peer-led sessions for member network forums.


Revolutionizing Travel Experiences: The Power of AI-Driven Automation
Speakers: Dan Flores and Mitch Bach
Sunday, Nov. 12 | 1:30 – 2:30p.m.
Las Vegas/Reno Tahoe Education Stage

Join Dan Flores of SatisfiLabs and Mitch Bach of TripSchool for a revelatory presentation, where you’ll discover how AI-driven tools can curate personalized itineraries, virtual assistants can offer real-time support, and customer satisfaction can be amplified through seamless engagement. Dan and Mitch will unravel how AI reshapes processes through data and automation. They’ll detail how data insights can decipher trends, the way this innovative technology can tailor experiences, and how AI-streamlined operations can refine booking and management. But this session isn’t just about AI’s impact; it’s also about connecting the needs and desires of all facets of the packaged travel industry.

Unified and Unique: Bringing Out the Best in Every Destination
Speakers: John Sutherland, Dawnielle Tehama, Juraj Sojka
Sunday, Nov. 12 | 2:45 – 3:45p.m.
Las Vegas/Reno Tahoe Education Stage

Our industry relies heavily on the vibrancy of our destinations, yet old tourism models focusing primarily on volume and marketing don’t adequately center destination management and stewardship as a means to address some of the issues cropping up with tourism around the world. How can our industry use a destination stewardship model to preserve natural, cultural, social, and economic resources, create a unique sense of place, and unify communitiesall while ensuring the future of travel and tourism? Learn from two destination management professionals about their regions’ efforts to engage their communities, create innovative product that gives back, protect their assets, and work with the trade to make travel better for their destinations. We’ll offer practical advice to destinations for getting started or continuing on your journey toward a thriving travel destination, and we’ve also got suggestions for how tour operators and suppliers can play important roles.

Best Pitch
Sunday, Nov. 12 | 4 – 5 p.m.
Cleveland Education Stage

International destinations are the focus of this informational session, when DMOs and receptive operators from outside North America will present five-minute pitches detailing travel ideas and opportunities in their country of expertise. Come learn all the reasons you should take groups (or continue to take groups) to these destinations.

What We’re Looking For
Sunday, Nov. 12 | 4 – 5 p.m.
Las Vegas/Reno Tahoe Education Stage

Panelists: Mandy Hamblett, Fraser Neave, Brittany Dykla
Moderator: Bob Rouse

If you’re a DMO, tour supplier, associate, or receptive operator, you’re looking to connect with buyers at Travel Exchange. But what are those buyers looking for? In this brand-new session, come hear from three NTA tour operators and learn what they’re looking for at Travel Exchange and beyond. You’ll also have the chance to ask them questions and gain their perspective on many facets of packaged travel.

Opening General Session: The Belonging Equation
Speaker: Shelley Brown
Monday, Nov. 13 | 8:45
9:45 a.m.
Las Vegas/Reno Tahoe Education Stage

There’s been a big shift in the world of work, and people are looking for more meaningful and purposeful work cultures where they can grow their interests, utilize their gifts and talents, define their purpose, and be recognized for their contribution beyond the numbers. When people feel safe, they can choose the parts of themselves they want to bring to work. This gives people a sense of belonging. And when people feel like they belong, they care more about you and invest more in their work and the people they serve, and they help to create that sense of belonging for others. Let Shelley take you on W.E.I.R.D. journey—a Welcoming, Engaging, Integrating, Risk-taking, and Delivering journey—to inspire you to build a culture of belonging, where everyone feels safe, valued, seen, and known.

The Art of the Group Experience
Speaker: Angelique Feaster Evans, Ph.D.
Monday, Nov. 13 | 10 a.m. Noon
Cleveland Education Stage

With experiential tourism on the rise, make your destination or attraction stand out with a curated group experience. Join cultural leadership expert Dr. Angelique Feaster Evans as she shares the art of creating authentic and diverse group experiences. Learn about experiential tourism including types of experiences,components of group experiences, and designing experiential products. This engaging session will inspire you to create a one-of-a-kind group experience masterpiece.

Kiss Your Customer: Why Sales & Service are Just Like Dating & Relationships
Speaker: Andy Masters
Monday, Nov. 13 | 1:30
2:30 p.m.
Las Vegas/Reno Tahoe Education Stage

Andy’s flagship keynote program is based on his award-winning book of the same title. He takes attendees on a journey through the highs-and-lows world of relationship-building, utilizing the clever irony between business and romance. Andy proves that we must create a transformation from doing a job to creating a bond. We must embrace personalization and customization in this age of technology and standardization. Today’s customers want to hire experts they can trust, ones who can truly help them. However … customers also hire people they like.

Don’t Leave Money on the Table
Speakers: Bill Caldwell and Lisa Curtin
Monday, Nov. 13 | 2:45 3:45 p.m.
Cleveland Education Stage

As a tour director or guide, do you think of yourself as a small business owner? You should!  This session will focus on tax saving opportunities for tour directors and guides, whether filing a joint return with a spouse or single. The seminar is particularly of interest to those who have income reported on a 1099 or a combination of income reported on a W2 and a 1099. Plenty of time will be allocated to a general Q&A session. Don’t miss this opportunity to get your tax questions answered. This session is one of the most popular with ITMI alumni and newbies. 

Creating True Customer Loyalty in the New Era of Customer Experience
Speaker: Andy Masters
Monday, Nov. 13 | 2:45 – 3:45 p.m.
Las Vegas/Reno Tahoe Education Stage

Andy illustrates why creating a culture of world-class customer experience is more important now than any time in history. We must therefore re-evaluate every touchpoint in the customer experience process:

  • Brainstorm on improving services through new innovations
  • Anticipate challenges and complaints; then plan and prepare accordingly
  • Embrace an empathy—at all times—for those served 
  • Be a light of positivity and solutions during stressful and turbulent times
  • Manage customer expectations to improve quality, and decrease internal stress
  • Increase customer confidence through communication, signage, and social media

Andy shares travel and hospitality examples from around the globe on how to create customer loyalty, avoid dissatisfaction, and improve reputationincluding on social media. Enjoy this timely, interactive, and impactful program that provides critical solutions to serve in today’s high-expectation world.

Tour Supplier Network Forum
Monday, Nov. 13 | 4 – 5 p.m.
Moderator: Holly Williamson
Las Vegas/Reno Tahoe Education Stage

No segment of the NTA membership is as varied as the tour supplier category, which includes hotels, attractions, passenger vessels, restaurants, and casinos, among other types of businesses. And yet, there are principles that hold true for all tour suppliers with marketing, staffing, reaching tour operators, and handling the everyday issues. Come ready to share what has or hasn’t worked for you, and hear from your peers the strategies they’re using. (This session is open to NTA tour supplier members only).

Marketing for Tour Suppliers in the Age of Digital Transformation
Speaker: Marica Brewster
Tuesday, Nov. 14 | 10 – 11 a.m.
Las Vegas/Reno Tahoe Education Stage

This session is essential for any tour supplier who wants to stay ahead of the competition in the digital age. Marica Brewster will discuss the importance of digital marketing for tour suppliers and up-to-the-minute key trends to be aware of. You will leave with a clear understanding of how digital marketing can help you reach your target audience, generate leads, and drive sales.

Partnership Panel: Suppliers and Operators
Tuesday, Nov. 14 | 11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
Moderator: Jennifer Morkert
Panelists: Amy DeFrancesco, John Fernandes, Jim Warren, Pam Corderman
Las Vegas/Reno Tahoe Education Stage

The entire group travel industry is based on partnerships, and that’s truer today than ever before. Tour operators are looking for tour supplier partners they can trust, and suppliers are looking for operator partners that will help them grow their business. But what does that partnership actually look like? And how can suppliers and operators work together in a way that benefits all parties involved? In this session—new this year—a panel of suppliers and operators will discuss the specific ways in which they work together to create great experiences for travelers. You’ll have the chance to hear their insights on issues specific to these partnerships (contracts, ticketing, etc.) and to ask them questions to help you strengthen your own partnerships.

Creating Culturally Inclusive Communication
Speaker: Brandale Mills Cox, Ph.D.
Tuesday, Nov. 14 | 1:45 – 2:45 p.m.
Las Vegas/Reno Tahoe Education Stage

Historically, organizations’ advertising and communications plans have neglected to incorporate members outside of the dominant culture, oftentimes leaving communities of color without any sense of personal connection with many of the organizations within their communities. In this session, participants will learn how to implement culturally responsive communications strategies and audience engagement to include diverse perspectives and experiences. We will explore practical techniques to help you enhance your communication, and we’ll discuss strategies that connect a sincere understanding of various perspectives with your organization’s vision and mission. This training will help ensure that all verbiage and images you use are culturally sensitive and inclusive.

Succession Planning Starts Now
Speakers: Bill Caldwell and Lisa Curtin
Tuesday, Nov. 14 | 1:45 – 2:45 p.m.
Cleveland Education Stage

Are you thinking of selling your business, merging with another company, or passing down to the next generation? Succession planning is a process that should start long before any transaction takes place. This session will focus attendees on steps you should take now and review each year, so when the day comes to make a change, you are ready.

DMO Network Forum
Tuesday, Nov. 14 | 3 – 4 p.m.
Moderator: Frances Manzitto
Las Vegas/Reno Tahoe Education Stage

You love the destination you represent, and you want others to love it, too. As you promote the place you love, you’ll find it helpful to hear what works for your DMO peers. Whether you’re attending Travel Exchange on behalf of a small city, a large metropolitan area, a state, a province, or an entire country, this forum is a chance for you to get ideas from others who are doing the same thing you’re doing … only in a different context. (This session is open to NTA DMO members only.)

DMO Itinerary Planning Workshop
Tuesday, Nov. 14 | 4:15 – 5:15 p.m.
Las Vegas/Reno Tahoe Education Stage

During the pandemic, a small group of NTA DMO members, representing a variety of destinations, began meeting regularly online for support, encouragement, and idea-sharing. From these conversations, the “Dynamic Destinations” group was formed. Not only did these DMOs continue to “talk shop,” they also began collaborating on itineraries. In doing so, they discovered the power of destinations working together to craft itineraries that operators might not have considered. During this new session, DMOs will have the opportunity to begin that same process. In an informal setting, you’ll have the chance to dream big by connecting with other DMOs, even those from outside of your own state or province, to craft original itinerary ideas. Come ready to create!

Tour Operator Network Forum (continental breakfast provided)
Wednesday, Nov. 15 | 7:30 8:30 a.m.
Room 205
Sponsored by Mayflower Cruises & Tours

There has never been a more challenging—or exciting—time to be a provider of group and packaged travel, which means there’s never been a better time to rely on the insight and wisdom of your fellow tour operators. In this forum, you can discuss issues that are front and center for you and your colleagues. Tour operators, come ready to share, listen, and learn from your peers as you look ahead to 2024 and beyond. (This session is open to NTA tour operator members only).

It’s Cool to Be Culturally Competent
Speaker: Heather Davis
Wednesday, Nov. 15 | 8:30 9:30 a.m.
Cleveland Education Stage

This session will equip participants with a working knowledge of cultural topics you should consider while tour directing. Participants will learn what to be cognizant of, both in the self and others, as well as tips on how to respond appropriately. 

Top Trends in Tourism Marketing: What DMOs Need to Know
Speaker: Marica Brewster
Wednesday, Nov. 15 | 8:30 9:30 a.m.
Las Vegas/Reno Tahoe Education Stage

Learn how to use the latest trends in tourism marketing to boost your destination’s visibility and attract more visitors. In this session, expert tourism marketer Marica Brewster will discuss the top trends that DMOs need to know about, such as the rise of experiential travel, the use of creative content, the need for personalization, and the importance of collaboration. 

Tourism Trends: Can You Teach an Old Destination New Tricks?
Speaker: Tico Soto
Wednesday, Nov. 15 | 9:45
10:45 a.m.
Las Vegas/Reno Tahoe Education Stage

In the work world of DMOs, we are always trying to stay one step ahead of the hot new trend or social media experience. Each destination has its own unique story, though. What is your message saying to the visitor? Is your destination hip and sexy and up-to-date? Does your community embrace your marketing message? Is it one that the locals can advocate for you? In this session we will talk about the ways to keep your destination top of mind in the vast world of competition.

The Demand for Slow Travel: How to Position Your Destination for a New Way of Traveling
Speaker: Lori Sorrentino
Wednesday, Nov. 15 | 11 a.m.
Las Vegas/Reno Tahoe Education Stage

Several years into the post-Covid world, travelers are seeing the benefits of slow travel: slowing the pace and purpose of their travels. Sustainability and responsibility are values driving decisions on where to go and how best to experience a destination. But is slow travel just the latest trend? Travel writer Lori Sorrentino discusses slow travelwhat it is, where it came from, why slow and sustainable travel is finally gaining ground, and why the “trend” is here to stay. You’ll hear actionable ways to optimize your destination, create new products, and package slow travel opportunities you never knew you had.

Why the Student Market Matters
Speaker: Carylann Assante
Wednesday, Nov. 15 | 1:30 2:30 p.m.
Las Vegas/Reno Tahoe Education Stage

In this sessionwith a special focus on DMOsyou will hear market data that supports investing in the student and youth market, which represents 25 percent of all global tourism. Student group travel is a consistent segment that repeats annually and engages travelers for the future. Come learn more about why leaders in tourism and hospitality continue to invest in student travel. 

Taking Care of You … so You Can Take Care of the Group
Speaker: Heather Davis
Wednesday, Nov. 15 | 1:30 2:30 p.m.
Cleveland Education Stage

This session will cover the importance of self attunement while on the road as well as different aspects of self care. Participants will leave with a better understanding of the impact of ignoring personal needs and learn tips for taking care of the self in manageable ways while on the road.

Partnership Panel: DMOs and Operators
Wednesday, Nov. 15 | 2:45 3:45p.m.
Moderator: Anjuli King
Panelists: Tobie Fitzpatrick, Debra Asberry, Jerry Varner, Micheal Collins
Las Vegas/Reno Tahoe Education Stage

One NTA tour operator member has been quoted as saying that the most important days of the year for their business are the ones at Travel Exchange when they meet with DMOs. Why? Because those connections are where future tours are born. Of course, the partnership between a DMO and an operator doesn’t stop once an itinerary is shared. It continues all the way up to and through the tour and beyond. What makes a fruitful partnership between a destination and a tour operator? Come hear from a panel of DMOs and tour operators to find out how they work together to create memories for travelers and to build a connection that lasts. You’ll also have the opportunity to ask questions of the panelists to help you learn how to strengthen your own partnerships with operators.

Power Hour
Wednesday, Nov. 15 | 4 5 p.m.
Moderator: Todd Probus
Las Vegas/Reno Tahoe Education Stage

Wrap up your time at Travel Exchange by joining your NTA colleagues for an open forum you can use to expand on any of the questions, ideas, and conversations raised during our time in Shreveport. This is also the time to share your key takeaways and expectations as TREX 2023 draws to a close. Think of it as one final opportunity to give or get help from your colleagues.

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