CASE STUDY: How one FTA Summit in Bermuda led to multiple assignments

CASE STUDY: How one FTA Summit in Bermuda led to multiple assignments


By Wendy Helfenbaum

I joined FTA as media member in early 2018 hoping to expand my network and keep up on family travel trends. Because that year’s Summit in Bermuda fell on a week my husband was off work, I decided to attend with my family.

My goal was to meet other FTA members, collect information on trends and destinations, and perhaps pick up a few story ideas. The Summit far exceeded my expectations. Not only was it fun, informative and welcoming, it turned out to be very lucrative, too!

Here’s how I leveraged the event:

  • I’d found Sally online in 2017 when I was looking for a knowledgeable travel agent to quote for another PBS story I was writing about mistakes people make when planning multigeneration vacations. Sally was so helpful that I couldn’t wait to meet her in person in Bermuda. While speaking with her over a drink during the Summit, she shared an anecdote about clients taking a cruise without knowing the regulations about foreign-born nannies being denied entry to certain ports. That comment led to me selling a story to about things you should never try to hide from a cruise line.
  • That same scuba-diving lesson generated a totally different story. On the boat, I got to know Carnival’s director of strategic partnerships, Jodi Kinmon. Later, over drinks, she mentioned how some of the line’s cruise directors had huge social media followings. I sold a really fun story starring the most popular cruise directors and their insider tips and tales from the sea – my first story for That piece got me on then-editor Erica Silverstein’s radar, and she assigned me another dozen stories over the next two years. Plus, Jodi’s warm introduction to Carnival’s media contact led to a future cruise where my family was hosted on their newly renovated vessel, Sunrise. Several stories resulted from that voyage, including one about why it’s great to sail on a refurbished ship. I also sold a review of the Carnival Sunrise to my editor at Travel42/Northstar Media.
  • My editor at Travel42 also wanted a review of the Fairmont Southampton, which I happily suppled.


I didn’t just find story ideas at the FTA Summit. In addition to Rainer and Sally, I met other fabulous contacts that ended up becoming sources in my stories. I happened to sit next to blogger Hilarye Fuller during the post-Summit media trip, and her amazing stories about living in an RV with her four kids inspired me to pitch and write a story about full-time RV families for

Lastly, I had the pleasure of meeting editor Ken Shapiro, and wrote a story about The Daytona hotel and my spin around the Speedway for TravelAge West.

There’s no question that attending the FTA Summit in 2018 was worthwhile for me. I was sorry to miss 2019’s due to scheduling conflicts, and as for the next one, count me in!