Q&A with Kenneth Shapiro, FTA President

Q&A with Kenneth Shapiro, FTA President

FTA: Can you talk a little bit about your role as FTA President and what is on the horizon for the organization in 2021 and beyond?

KS: As President of the Board of Directors, my job is to take a wide view of the organization and its goals, without losing sight of all the steps it takes to achieve those goals. An important part of that role is to facilitate the projects that the FTA undertakes and confirm that our board members and committee heads have the resources they need to succeed.

I also provide guidance, support and expertise to the association, and make sure that we follow up on our promises to members. We have a lot of great initiatives on the horizon – including a new supplier certification, new research, our webinar series and more – as well as planning for future summits and events. So stay tuned on all of that!

FTA: How does FTA plan to continue building a community where DMOs, cruise lines, tour operators, hotels and resorts, ranches and other suppliers, travel advisors, and media work together and support one another?

KS: As the premier association of family travel, it’s very important to enhance our leadership role in the industry, especially as the travel industry emerges from the pandemic. Families are going to be looking for advice on how to travel safely without compromising the experience, and we need to be the advocate for them, as well as for the companies and advisors that do a great job of providing and planning amazing vacations. Our media members are true experts on family travel experiences, and by highlighting their work and supporting their efforts, we can extend our reach across the market.

FTA: The travel landscape is rapidly changing – which segments do you think will bounce back the quickest? Which ones do you feel will change for the better post COVID? How is family travel leading the way?

KS: There have been a number of traveler surveys that have shown that one of the main motivators for traveling post-pandemic is spending quality time with extended family. Parents want their kids to visit grandparents and other family members who have been separated for over a year now. We saw a similar reaction after Sept. 11, where travelers valued life experiences over luxury purchases, and I think we are going to see that again after this crisis. Obviously, the cruise industry still has its challenges to overcome, but you are already seeing most of the other segments of the industry bouncing back in a big way. Overall, we are definitely on the verge of a boom time in family travel.

FTA: What advice would you give FTA members about navigating the travel industry with the “new normal”?

KS: Our members — who are primarily suppliers, advisors and media — share the ability to provide guidance to traveling families. And guidance, advice and support are going to be extremely valuable for all travelers in the coming months and years. We are dealing with a very confusing, fluid time in travel, and expertise in all its forms is in high demand. Our members are true experts in family travel, and their knowledge can make a huge difference to any family looking to finally get back on the road and have the trip of a lifetime.