Over Memorial Day weekend, the Family Travel Association successfully completed its first-ever FTA Travel Agent Council Forum, bringing together some of the industry’s leading family travel agents at the beautiful Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge in Big Fork, Montana.
“Like the Family Travel Association, travel agents are helping to change families lives through travel, by promoting and encouraging families to get out there and experience the world on any level – from camping trips to exotic safaris,” said Jessica Griscavage, Director of Marketing at McCabe World Travel.
As part of a plan to roll out its travel agent membership program and resource center for travel agents in the coming months, more than a dozen agents from around the U.S. were invited to the Montana dude ranch to help FTA senior management gather valuable insights and important intel, and assist the FTA in connecting with travel agents on a number of levels, including travel agent training, accreditation and resource development.
“Exchanging ideas and best practices with leading travel advisors specializing in families was invaluable,” added Julia Slatcher, Owner and Principal of Inspire World Travel. “The expertise, insights and clear commitment to inspiring family travel will help the FTA evolve to better meet the needs of travel advisors – a crucial segment of the travel industry. In turn, these travel advisors will be able to better serve families of all kinds. I’m looking forward to continuing to work with the FTA to capitalize on the synergies from such a stimulating and productive weekend.”
Cari Gray, the founder and director of Gray & Co, was also pleased with her time. “The Council represents a diverse range of agents specializing in everything from camping to high-end private trips,” she reported. “Hot council topics included membership criteria, benefits, techniques for the more effective sales, marketing and communication for agents, suppliers and the FTA.”
The agents in attendance in addition to Griscavage, Slatcher and Gray, included Lauren Goldenberg, The Family Traveler; Laura Lazicki, Guru Travel; Michele Harkins, Dreams Vacations; Kim Milnes, Family Travel Boutique; Anastasia Damianeas, Hermes Travel; Katherine Shirer, Ciao Bambino!; Angela Pierson, Wallace Pierson Travel; Yannette Edwards, Valerie Wilson Travel; Sally Black, VacationKids; and Patricia Monahan, Our Whole Village. Michelle Baran and Mindy Poder of Northstar Media were also present. Fitting for a family-travel gathering, participants had the opportunity to bring their children… and many did.
As an FTA member, Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge provided a perfect backdrop for this exclusive event. “This unique family-run lodge setting was the perfect ‘all ages’ locale for gathering and sharing deep insights. There was networking by the pool, campfire, beach and even on horseback,” commented Gray.
Jason St.Clair, Director of Sales and Marketing for Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge, was just as enthusiastic about having served as the setting for the gathering: “What a wonderful Memorial Day weekend we had hosting such an amazing group. We had perfect weather for trail rides and outdoor activities, with the northern lights making a quick appearance. We look forward to further building relationships with the travel agent community as well as all members of the Family Travel Association.”
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