(Boston, MA – March 8, 2017) The Family Travel Advisor Forum, an exclusive program for top-performing travel sellers within the family vacation niche, has announced its selection of members for its 2017 Advisory Board.
Now entering its second year, the 2017 Family Travel Advisor Forum will be held at the Moon Palace Jamaica in Ocho Rios from November 29 – December 3, with key partners including the Jamaica Tourist Board; Palace Resorts; and its premier sponsor and educational partner, the Family Travel Association, among others. The event is the industry’s only hosted event for North American leisure travel sellers who are dedicated to this niche, and will have an emphasis on strengthening multi-generation, reunions and other family celebratory travel. The Advisory Board will collaborate with the Family Travel Advisor Forum management team, in developing engagement opportunities, content-rich programming, and other critical elements that will influence the events overall offerings. The 2017 Advisory Board includes:
Sally Black, President & Founder, Vacationkids
It took Sally a while to figure out exactly what she wanted to be when she grew up. In the meantime she’s been a single mom to three kids, a Pediatric Nurse who delivered babies, an internet pioneer at a dot com start up with no indoor plumbing, circled the globe a few times and even knit movie costumes. After all this hard work she finally settled on the idea that vacations are something she does best. Sally currently holds the position Mom Executive Officer of Vacationkids.com, the online travel agency she founded in 2000 dedicated to creating customized family vacations. She recently added the distinction of author by writing her book “Fearless Family Vacations…Make Everyone Happy Without Losing Your Mind”. Over the years Sally has shared her expertise and opinions with the press. She’s been seen on CNN, WE, MSNBC, NBC as well as numerous radio interviews. Sally’s comments have been published in Huffington Post, USA Today, The New York Times, US News. Sally currently lives in the Pocono Mountains of PA with her husband Brian and Sheltie pups. Recently she added the title of “Grammy” to her quirky resume which she swears is the best job title in the world.
Anastasia Damianeas, Hermes Travel Corporation
Anastasia Damianeas (or Nancy, as she prefers to be called) is a New Yorker, has traveled to 18 countries, and has lived in both Greece and Dubai. With over 24 years of travel agent experience, her passion is helping families and couples realize their travel dreams! Speaking of families, Hermes Travel Corporation was established by her mother in 1980 and was one of the first travel agencies in Queens, NY to utilize a GDS for ticketing. Nearly 40 years later, the agency has evolved and survived. Despite the myth that storefront travel agencies are obsolete, Hermes Travel is living proof of a thriving and successful IATA and ARC accredited travel agency, thanks to their excellent service and dedicated clientele. After graduating from Hofstra University with a Bachelor of Arts degree, with a specialization in English & American Literature, she decided to continue working as a travel advisor full time in the USA and in Greece. Managing all aspects of travel, from airline tickets to Around-the-World tours, Nancy’s knowledge and experience have served as invaluable sources of help to her clients. Her passion for this industry and for helping clients plan and organize their holidays is evident in all of her work, and is the number one reason clients return trip after trip, year after year, and refer their friends and family to her as well. She is a Certified Sandals & Beaches Specialist, a Hawaii Destination Expert, as well as a Tahiti Certified Specialist. She recently became a Certified Family Travel Advisor and was on the Keynote Panel at the 2016 Family Travel Association Summit in Tucson, AZ. She has also been featured as an “Astoria Character” in Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nancy-ruhling/astoria-characters-the-wo_b_8280030.html. Some of her favorite destinations to book clients to include Costa Rica, Greece, Italy, Spain, France, Tahiti & all of French Polynesia, Australia, Hawaii, as well as the Caribbean & Mexico.
Margie Leneau, Owner, Wonderland Family Vacations
Margie Lenau has a passion for helping families make unforgettable memories and strengthening relationships. She saw that families needed encouragement and help planning their vacations so that they could spend time together. A big problem was the stress of planning, and not knowing if their plans would work well for their family. One of our biggest regrets is not spending enough time with our friends and family. She saw how she could help with this. After researching the complicated ins and out of the travel industry, in 2008, she became an Independent Contractor for a local agency. These colleagues were very helpful in establishing her knowledge base. Soon, she formed her own agency, Wonderland Family Vacations, specializing on Family Travel. Starting out building her client list, her business quickly grew. Margie has 4 children, and 4 grandchildren. She has worked with non-profit organizations, and was a founding member of the West Michigan Turner Syndrome Society support group. She earned the Heart Beat Award from Families At Heart, a support group helping families with children with Congenital Heart Disease. Her second daughter has had two life-saving heart surgeries, and her son was born prematurely, so she knows the value of spending time together with family. Margie was a Computer Science major in college, which was what led her to understand that there had to be a better way to book travel than what the internet was developing. She has many certifications for travel products and destinations, and keeps current by traveling to familiarize herself with these products. She is a proud member of GIFTE and TESA, a tribe of like-minded Travel Professionals, as well as CLIA, and IATAN. She has been interviewed on her local NBC affiliate about travel planning. Award Winning, Best Selling Author of The Road to Success, Vol. 2, with Jack Canfield.
Nicole Thibault, Owner, Magical Storybook Travels
Nicole Thibault is the Owner of Magical Storybook Travels, a travel agency that specializes in Family Travel and Travel for Families with Special Needs. Nicole assists many families in booking the perfect vacation destination that’s right for them. Whether it’s a small family, or a large family traveling with grandparents, parents, and children, whether it’s a family with children of differing ages, whether it’s a family with Special Needs, Nicole loves to work with them to ensure all of their needs and travel wishes are met. For families with Special Needs, Nicole works closely with the family to ensure that the family’s needs are accommodated while on the vacation. Nicole has assisted families with Autism, ADHD/ADD, anxiety, hearing or vision impairments, mobility issues, special dietary restrictions, medical issues, and families with members recovering from illness. She also conducts “pre-vacation counseling” to prepare members of the family with anxiety for their upcoming vacation.
“Planning for the 2017 Family Travel Advisory Forum is well underway, and our initial Board meetings have already generated a treasure trove of ideas and initiatives that will undoubtedly contribute immensely to the success of this year’s event. It is truly a pleasure to work with such an impressive and diverse representation of the industry’s best in family travel, who not only bring expertise to the table, but an amazing level of enthusiasm and excitement to create a dynamic educational and fun event for their peers and supplier partners” said Jennifer Fernandez, Vice President Events & Content, Specialty Travel Forums.
The Family Travel Advisor Forum will bring in 150 hand-selected audience of top-performing travel sellers from across the US and Canada. These sellers are selected through a stringent and multi-faceted qualification process comprising a written application, through review of qualifications and social presence, telephone interview and professional references. Sellers represent an average of $1 Million in annual bookings, with a strong presence in the family vacation arena. The event features educational sessions, peer-to-peer small-group discussions, on-island experiential activities and networking events, and a Supplier Showcase offering one-to-one mutual-interest business meetings. The Showcase floor will spotlight 65 companies including global destinations, commissionable family centric vacation options and other key resources for the family vacation specialist.
ABOUT SPECIALTY TRAVEL FORUMS
The Family Travel Advisor Forum is produced by Specialty Travel Forums, a division of Travel Show Marketing Group (TravelSMG), an independent event organizer who caters exclusively to the North American travel agent community. The Specialty Travel Forums division offers innovative programming and content to support the professional growth of travel agents eager to cultivate their business and expertise through specialization. Comprised of a series of exclusive independent programs in key destinations, each is focused on individual niche markets providing in-depth training, brand certification, intimate networking, supplier relations, product knowledge and more. These exclusive programs offer limited space, allowing delegates to gain focused niche training while experiencing a full familiarization of the host destination to increase the breadth of their specialty offerings. The TravelSMG team has a proven track record in producing some of the most acclaimed leisure travel trade shows and events, working collaboratively with the industry’s leading organizations and experts, to provide top-notch education, networking and supplier engagement. For more information on TravelSMG visit www.TravelSMG.com
Travel agents interested in learning more or wish to apply for one of the coveted Family Travel Advisor Forum positions can apply here: https://family.travelsmg.com/apply-now-form/. Space is limited with positions awarded at the Event Management teams discretion.
Suppliers interested in learning more or exhibiting should contact Jennifer Fernandez, VP Events & Content via telephone at (718) 979-1952 or email Jennifer@SpecialtyTravelForums.com.