FTA Summit 2017


‘Better Together – Fostering inclusion in family travel’

October 23 – 27, 2017 • Royal Caribbean International’s Majesty of the Seas • Port Canaveral, Florida

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The FTA’s annual Summit is a trade-only, conference-style event that brings together family travel experts, industry leaders, travel agents, and media for three full days of inspiring presentations, interactive workshops, enlightening research, and a diverse array of networking opportunities. It is becoming the preeminent industry event to:

  • Network with family-focused tour operators and media
  • Further personal development and knowledge of the trends in family travel
  • Help promote family products to the travel industry’s influencers and decision-makers

You can get a sense of the energy and opportunities that abound at the FTA Summit by checking out this video of members and attendees at last year’s event:

2017 FTA Summit Agenda

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The theme for the 2017 FTA Summit is ‘Better Together – Fostering inclusion in family travel’.

The faces of families has changed enormously in recent times. And with those changes has come a major metamorphosis in the faces of family travel. Now we’re pleased to tackle the importance of inclusion, because we believe in extended and “blended” and “voluntary kin” clans, single-parent households and those with two dads or two moms, families of different and mixed races or hailing from different cultures, homes where one or more members have special needs… and any combinations of the above!

This year’s Summit agenda will again be filled with opportunities to network with peers, absorb cutting-edge trends and key information, connect with media, and more!

Please note that this ‘wireframe’ Summit program is a work in progress. Thus it is very much still open to adjustments as details are finalized.


For those with long flights before the Summit (or those that just want to come early and enjoy more of Florida), the FTA has negotiated rates with the Courtyard by Marriott Cocoa Beach @ $139/night, single to quad. Plus Florida’s Space Coast Office of Tourism and the Marriott Cocoa Beach will provide any available delegates a reception and ‘mini’ trade show the night of Sunday, Oct. 22. The room block deadline has passed now, however so contact the hotel directly to see if you may still be eligible for that rate.

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Monday, Oct. 23 (travel day, Majesty departs Port Canaveral)

12:00 PM – Flight Arrival Deadline

All delegates’ flights must arrive to Orlando before noon, per RCI regulations

1:00-4:00 PM – Delegate Summit Registration (Conference Center, Deck 7)

1:00-4:00 PM – Exhibitor Set Up (Conference Center, Deck 7)

4:00 PM – Majesty of the Seas Sets Sail! Delegates should be sure to enjoy the Sail Away Party on Deck 11, poolside.

5:00-6:30 PM – FTA Board Meeting (Adventure Conference Room, Deck 7 – For FTA staff and Board only – NOT a public event.)

7:00-8:00 PM – Welcome Reception (Spectrum Lounge, Deck 8)

Welcome reception sponsored by Royal Caribbean International!

8:30 PM – Dinner (Moonlight Dining Room, Deck 4)

Note that we’ll have assigned seating on this first night, but then ’round robin’ dining for the remainder of the dinners – where you’ll be able to move around and choose your own seat within our assigned dining section.

10:30 PM – Pub o’ the Night (Schooner Bar, Deck 7)

Informal, ‘no host’ networking

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Tuesday, Oct. 24 (at sea)

9:00-9:15 AM – Welcome Address: Better Together – Fostering Inclusion in Family Travel (Chorus Line Lounge, Deck 7)

Rainer Jenss, Founder & President – FTA

9:15-9:45 AM – Keynote 1: Families From 8-80 – How to Provide for Diverse Aspirations (Chorus Line Lounge, Deck 7)

sponsored by Visit Anchorage

Sven-Olof Lindblad, CEO & President – Lindblad Expeditions

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Sven-Olof Lindblad, CEO & President of Lindblad Expeditions, born in Switzerland, traveled extensively with his father, renowned adventure-travel pioneer Lars-Eric Lindblad, who led the first non-scientific groups of travelers to Antarctica (1966). In 1979 he launched Special Expeditions, the adventure travel company that became Lindblad Expeditions.

In 2004, Lindblad formed a strategic alliance with National Geographic that combines the strengths of two pioneers in global exploration, with the goal of inspiring people to explore and care about the planet. Lindblad’s personal experience led to a commitment to environmentally responsible travel, which has resulted in numerous travel and environmental awards.

Lindblad is an honorary member of the General Assembly of the Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands. He received international recognition for his innovative and successful model of tourism, receiving the “Commandeur de Notre Ordre de Merite Civil et Militaire d’Adolphe de Nassau” from Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg at the Grand-Ducal Place. He also had a newly discovered endemic species of moth in the Galapagos Islands, Undulambia lindbladi, named in honor of his conservation work. He serves on the Board of The Safina Center, the National Geographic Society’s International Council of Advisors, and the Board of Trustees for RARE; is a founding Ocean Elder of the non-profit organization, Ocean Elders; and serves on the Board of Advisors for Pristine Seas.

9:45-10:15 AM – State of the FTA: Research Findings (Chorus Line Lounge, Deck 7)

Peter Bopp, Director of Strategy – FTA

Lynn Minnaert, Academic Co-chair and Clinical Associate Professor – NYU Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism

Amy Henry, SVP, Strategic Planning – Strottman International

10:15-10:30 AM – Break

10:30-11:00 AM – Keynote 2: What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up? (Chorus Line Lounge, Deck 7)

Author and adventurer Charles R. Scott will share lessons learned from cycling over 7,000 miles with his young children across Japan, Iceland, Europe and the U.S., and offer his thoughts on raising resilient children and crafting an intentional life. Charles left a 14-year career at Intel Corporation to become an adventurer, a decision that both excited and intimidated him. He now travels the world taking on endurance challenges linked to charitable causes and asking people of all ages, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The answer, he contends, isn’t a single title or profession. It’s the work of a lifetime.

Charles Scott, The Family Adventure Guy

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Charles Scott
Charles R. Scott is an adventurer, author of two books, co-founder of the nonprofit organization Team See Possibilities, and a 14-year veteran of Intel Corporation. He gives conference keynotes and developed an executive workshop called “What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?” He has delivered this popular workshop to thousands of CEOs and senior executives across North America, and has spoken at Uber, Intel, The World Bank, Harvard Business School and many others. His adventures have been featured in press around the world, including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, FOX News, National Geographic, and Outside Magazine. He also gives talks at schools and to parent groups about raising resilient children. Mixing in anecdotes from cycling over 7,000 miles with his young children across Japan, Iceland, Europe and the U.S., and from guiding the first blind runner to cross the Grand Canyon and back nonstop, he helps people think about why they do what they do, and how to add passion and drive to their lives.

11:00-11:15 AM – State of the FTA: Your Membership (Chorus Line Lounge, Deck 7)

Chez, Executive Director – FTA
Sally Black, Director of Sales – VacationKids
Janeece Keller, Founder & CEO – BoundRound.com

11:15-11:45 AM – Keynote 3: Having your cappuccino with the foam still on it: Developing A Luxury Hotel for Kids AND Parents (Chorus Line Lounge, Deck 7)

Chitra Stern, Owner and Founding Board Member – Martinhal Family Hotels & Resorts

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A London Business School “Accomplished Entrepreneur”, Chitra Stern is the owner and founding board member at Martinhal Family Hotels & Resorts. Working alongside her business partner/husband, she developed the flagship Martinhal Beach Resort & Hotel in Sagres from scratch and has successfully expanded the “Martinhal” family brand name across three other properties in Portugal – always in locations with character – Quinta do Lago, Cascais and Chiado in Lisbon.

Chitra enjoys business-life as well as her family-life with their four kids and faces the challenges of staying healthy while being passionate about business and family!

11:45-12:00 AM – State of the FTA: Consumer Program Launch (Chorus Line Lounge, Deck 7)

Rainer Jenss, Founder & President – FTA
Andrew Dent, Founder & CEO – Ardent Media / Family Traveller Magazine

12:30 PM – Lunch (Moonlight Dining Room, Deck 4)

2:00-2:45 PM – Breakout 1A: Inclusion Success Stories – Tips on How to Diversify Your Audience (Explorer Conference Room, Deck 7)

Do the clients in all your promotional images look a little too much the same? Or how about your entire client base, for that matter? This session will delve into suggestions, tips and success stories of how businesses can better reach out to families of color, different socio-economic groups, families with special needs, and more.

Moderator: Peter Bopp, Director of Strategy – FTA
Heather Greenwood Davis, Contributing Editor – National Geographic Traveler and Founder- GlobetrottingMama.com
Caitlan Etchevers, Director of Domestic Sales – Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau
Other speaker TBD

2:00-2:45 PM – Breakout 1B: Kidfluence: Including Kids in Family Vacation Planning (Voyager Conference Room, Deck 7)

If it’s really a family trip, shouldn’t the kids have a say too? Learn what you can do to better encourage your clients to get their kids/grandkids involved in planning their next family adventure – and what your business can do to appeal to these kids!

Moderator: Ethan Gelber, Director of Editorial – FTA
Anthony Meloro, Sr. Manager, Business Development Support & Host Travel Partner Relations – Royal Caribbean International
Sally Black, Director of Sales – VacationKids
Janeece Keller, Founder & CEO – BoundRound.com

3:00-3:45 PM – Breakout 2A: Including Families with Adult Kids (Explorer Conference Room, Deck 7)

Ads and descriptions of family travel usually focus on kids ages 17 and under, but families don’t stop traveling after high school graduation. Families with older kids travel together, too. In fact, research shows that families with older teens and young adults still travel together quite extensively. This panel will cover research, trends, and insights.

Moderator: Peter Bopp, Director of Strategy – FTA
Nancy Schretter, Managing Editor – Family Travel Network
Beth O’Donnell, Assistant General Manager – Thomson Family Adventures
Barry Lolicht, Operations Manager – Big Five Tours & Expeditions

3:00-3:45 PM – Breakout 2B: Travel for Families with Special Needs (Voyager Conference Room, Deck 7)

How you can market to, reach, and accommodate families with special needs, be it a client in a wheelchair, grandparents with mobility issues, to autistic kids.

Moderator: Ethan Gelber, Director of Editorial – FTA
Brittany Williams, Public Relations Manager – LEGOLAND Florida Resort
Nicole Thibault, Owner, Travel Specialist – Magical Storybook Travels
Robin Mountain, Owner/CEO – Ntaba African Safaris

4:00-4:45 PM – Breakout 3A: How to Develop Family Travel Product (Explorer Conference Room, Deck 7)

From pre-departure packet to post-trip survey, learn what it takes to develop product that will be attractive to families – and how to best promote and market these fam-friendly trips.

Moderator: Peter Bopp, Director of Strategy – FTA
Jara Haas, Tourism Sales Manager – Visit Anchorage
Stefano Maina, Sales Manager – Top Service Tourist Services
Andrea Ross, CEO & Founder – Journeys Within

4:00-4:45 PM – Breakout 3B: Inclusive Multigenerational Travel (Voyager Conference Room, Deck 7)

Multigenerational group travel is one of today’s top trends, but including everyone and doing it well poses some challenges. Multigenerational groups can include travelers from 1 to 91, often with varying interests and physical abilities.

Moderator: Ethan Gelber, Director of Editorial – FTA
Stella Mountain, Owner/President – Ntaba African Safaris
Claire Kerr-Zlobin, Founder/Program Director – LifeWithABaby.com
Chitra Stern,
Owner and Founding Board Member – Martinhal Family Hotels & Resorts

4:45-5:00 PM – Break

5:00-5:15 PM – State of the FTA: Benefits Review (Adventure Conference Room, Deck 7)

Chez, Executive Director – FTA

5:15-6:00 PM – Keynote 4: Under The Influence: An Insider’s Look At Working With Family Travel Influencers (Adventure Conference Room, Deck 7)

Moderator: Chez, Executive Director – FTA

According to a recent study by Nielsen, influencer marketing drives 11 times more ROI than other forms of digital media. Yet, many brands are missing out on this growing marketing trend. Kristen Bonilla, PR Manager for Visit California and Julia Dimon, TV personality and Family Travel Influencer, give the inside scoop on how to effectively use influencer marketing to spread the word about your brand or destination. Among the topics covered will be: how to source the best travel influencers who can authentically bring awareness to your brand, best practices when working with an influencer, and how to measure the success of a campaign.

Kristen Bonilla, PR Manager for Visit California

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Kristen Bonilla serves as the Public Relations Manager for Visit California, a nonprofit organization with a mission to develop and maintain marketing programs – in partnership with the state’s travel industry – that keep California top-of-mind as a premier travel destination. Kristen oversees Visit California’s PR efforts in the U.S. and Canada including media relations, digital influencer programs, broadcast productions and PR activations. She also works closely with the marketing department to develop and implement integrated public relations strategies around Visit California original content and consumer campaigns.

Julia Dimon, TV personality and Family Travel Influencer

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Julia Dimon

Julia Dimon is a family travel influencer, on-camera TV host and hard-core travel junkie who’s traveled around the world to over 80 countries, across all seven continents. Host of the TV series Word Travels, broadcast on National Geographic Adventure and Travel Channel UK across over 100 countries and 21 languages, she’s been featured as a travel expert by CNN, ABC Nightline, New York Times, Conde Nast Traveller, Travel & Leisure, among others. Her experiences hiking with mountain gorillas in Uganda, camel trekking through the Middle East and devouring live slugs and deep-fried bugs in jungles around the world led her to write the book “Travel Junkie: A Badass Guide to Solo Female Travel.” Then, her biggest adventure of all… parenthood. Mama of two munchkins aged 1 and 3, Julia’s thirst for adventure continues – this time with her little travel junkies in-tow. Her website juliadimon.com aims to empower other mamas with real-life tips and tricks when traveling with their own young families.

6:00-7:00 PM – Informal networking/freshen up

7:00-8:00 PM Networking Gathering and Awards Presentation (Spectrum Lounge, Deck 8)

Informal ‘no host’ gathering and awards presentation.

8:30 Dinner (Moonlight Dining Room, Deck 4)

Formal night with ’round robin’ dining, where you’re able to move around and choose your own seat within our assigned dining section

10:30 PM – Pub o’ the Night (Boleros Lounge, Deck 7)

Informal, ‘no host’ networking

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Wednesday, Oct. 25 (Nassau, Bahamas)

8:00 AM – Majesty of the Seas Docks

NOTE: Any Summit guests departing early will check out (exact time is TBD) and depart the Majesty of the Seas for local hotels before flying out of Nassau.

9:00-9:45 AM – Digital Workshop #1: Email is King: Nurture & Convert Leads to Customers Through Personalized Email Automation (Explorer Conference Room, Deck 7)

Today’s buyers want hyper-personalized and engaging content from brands they interact with at every touchpoint.  Nurturing leads from the moment they initiate interest to the moment they make a purchase decision is imperative to increasing top-line growth.  Although this is a shared sentiment in marketing these days, how does one effectively put this in place?  When prioritizing marketing channels to elevate your brand’s identity and facilitate a thoughtful lead to customer experience, email is king.
According to Econsultancy, three-quarters of companies agree that email offers excellent to good ROI while Campaign Monitor cites for every $1 spent, email marketing generates $38 in ROI.  The moral of the story here is that if you aren’t leveraging personalized email marketing, now is the time!
Takeaways you’ll discover:
  • How to strategically approach an automated lead nurturing email campaign
  • The framework for constructing an effective lead journey from source to close
  • Measurable metrics to track and analyze the success of email marketing

Jason Bornfriend, Director of Marketing – 829 Studios
Kaitlyn Merola, Director of Marketing Strategy & Growth – 829 Studios

9:00-9:45 AM – Digital Workshop #2: Evaluating Different Online Marketing Strategies & Platforms (Voyager Conference Room, Deck 7)

There are tons of different ways to market your business and all of them seem to require time or money. In this session we will review data from dozens of businesses to determine where exactly you should be focusing your efforts. Using these successful programs as our guide, we’ll pick apart their approach to marketing online and identify a few of the most effective marketing strategies. Perhaps most importantly, we’ll have this discussion within the context of a marketing plan so you’ll be able to take home a comprehensive framework for use with your business.

Key Takeaways

  • Framework approach to online marketing
  • What traffic generates the most leads and how do I get more of it
  • How successful business’s approach paid

Peter Ross, Co-Fouder – 829 Studios

10-10:30 AM – Keynote 5: Millennials’ Future Travel Purchasing Trends (Chorus Line Lounge, Deck 7)

Stephan Chase, President and Founder Chase Intel

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Stephan Chase

As the economy improves, so does the demand for family travel. But economic revival is not lifting all boats equally. Much has been made of the economic differences between those with a college education and those without. But there are demographic changes at play, which have much greater implications for the family travel industry. Stephan Chase will share how household formation, income, wealth, and longevity have impacted family travel and where the  opportunities are over the next five-to-ten years.

A nationally-renowned expert in turning consumer data into revenue, Stephan’s experience in analytics, research, marketing, and information technology provides him a comprehensive view of how to assess, predict, and influence customer behavior.

Over his career, his strategic and analytical insights have created over $1 billion of incremental revenue. He achieves this by taking a practical view to assisting clients, focusing first on identifying where they can derive value from customer analytics within their existing infrastructures. The results inform where clients should focus their future strategic, analytical, and infrastructure investments.

He draws from over 30 years of consulting and industry experience. Most recently, he led Marriott International’s Consumer Insight function where he was responsible for its guestVoice (customer satisfaction) program, predictive analytics, market research, advertising effectiveness, and competitive assessment. Prior to that position, he led a team which developed the analytics and infrastructure for Marriott’s promotions and lifecycle marketing, tripling the incremental revenue these efforts generated. He started his Marriott career in Brand Management, where he developed the analytic insights underpinning its Customer Loyalty Strategy.

10:30-11:00 AM – Keynote 6: Creating A World of Global Citizens (Chorus Line Lounge, Deck 7)

Kevin Thomsen, President and Founder Red Trunk Project

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Kevin Thomsen is the President and Founder of Red Trunk Project, a global educational initiative that uses physical artifacts, videos, and books to teach children about other cultures. Red Trunk’s goal is to create a brighter, more inclusive future for all children, working to ensure that children better understand and empathize with their fellow citizens around the world.

Kevin is a story-teller by trade, having produced, written, directed, and performed in TV, film, and theater for the past 35 years. As a spoken-word producer and director, he has worked with the biggest authors and celebrities on the planet, his productions earning multiple accolades and awards, including two Grammy Awards.

The seeds of The Red Trunk Project were planted when Kevin and his wife traveled to the Republic of Georgia and Ethiopia to adopt their two children. His quest to teach his daughters about their birth cultures has grown into a passion to help every child understand and respect the different lives being led by other children around the globe.

12:00-Lunch (Shipboard)

1:00-6:00 PM – Networking Activities (Nassau)

Networking activities in/around Nassau, possibly to include:

  • Snorkeling
  • Fishing
  • Nassau historical tours
  • Nassau shopping
  • Kayaking

6:00-7:00 PM – Networking Gathering and Open Mic Night (Spectrum Lounge, Deck 8)

Casual networking and open mic night! Topic for discussion is ‘Successful Failures’. Casual, off-the-cuff presentations by individual delegates on failures that they have had in the past (be they in business, as a parent, in their personal lives, etc.) where a failure lead to a success. FTA will hand-select a few opening presenters, then the mic will be open for any delegate to literally ‘step up to the mic’ and tell their 5-minute story! Leading presenters include:

8:30 PM – Dinner (Moonlight Dining Room, Deck 4)

‘Round robin’ dining, where you’re able to move around and choose your own seat within our assigned dining section

9:00 PM – Majesty of the Seas departs Nassau

10:30 PM – Pub o’ the Night (Schooner Bar, Deck 5)

Informal, ‘no host’ networking

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Thursday, Oct. 26 (Cococay)

8:00 AM – Majesty of the Seas anchors

9:00 AM – Tenders to island

9:30-11:30AM – Networking Activities (Cococay)

Possibly to include:

  • Snorkeling
  • Volleyball tournament
  • Hikes
  • Kayaking

12:00 PM – Buffet Lunch (Cococay)

1:00 PM – Tenders to ship

2:00-3:30 PM – Agent Meet-Up! (Adventure & Voyager Conference Rooms, Deck 7)

Meet the Summit’s attending travel agents

3:45-5:15 PM – Media Meet-Up! (Adventure & Voyager Conference Rooms, Deck 7)

Meet the attending trade and consumer media!

4:00 PM – Majesty of the Seas departs Cococay

5:30-6:30 PM – Informal networking/freshen up

7:00-8:00 PM – Farewell Reception (Spectrum Lounge, Deck 8)

Farewell reception sponsored by Royal Caribbean International!

8:30 PM – Dinner (Moonlight Dining Room, Deck 4)

‘Round robin’ dining, where you’re able to move around and choose your own seat within our assigned dining section

10:30 PM – Pub o’ the Night (Boleros Lounge, Deck 7)

Informal, ‘no host’ networking

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Friday, Oct. 27 (arrive Port Canaveral, then travel day)

8:00 AM – Majesty of the Seas arrives Port Canaveral

8:30-10AM – Delegates depart

Depart Majesty of the Seas for shuttles to airports or post-tours (See details on the FTA Summit FAM page)

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Post-Summit Tours, etc.

For those with long flights after the Summit (or those that just want to stay on and further enjoy Florida), the FTA has negotiated rates with the Courtyard by Marriott Cocoa Beach @ $139/night, single to quad. Reservations must be made before September 21, 2017. See the Summit Travel Page for full details.

Also, check out the FAM tour of the ‘Space Coast’ and Kennedy Space Center! See details on the FTA Summit FAM page.

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Royal Caribbean



Family Traveller
Visit Anchorage
Florida Space Coast
Courtyard Marriott



NYU Professional Studies
Longwoods Intl

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