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American Express' Luxury FocusOctober 29, 2007 By: Alicia Evanko Travel Agent
WITH MORE UPSCALE CLIENTS SEEKING HIGH-END ESCAPES, luxury product expertise is essential to a travel agent's skill set. Knowing how to effectively target and market to this sophisticated niche customer is something American Express can help you excel at by providing consistently high levels of products and services.
In Luxury Travel Expo's keynote address, Roger Dow, the president and CEO of the Travel Industry Association (TIA), will spotlight the trillion-dollar impact of travel and tourism on the U.S. economy. The address will be held during the expo's general session on December 5 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. His focus will be on how the industry, speaking with "one voice," can drive critical legislative changes to the domestic and international travel process. Interactive audience retention-level-measuring devices will be distributed.
American Express understands the importance of investing in the travel industry. Lynne Biggar, senior vice president and general manager of the American Express Consumer Travel Network (CTN), notes, "We partner with organizations and support programs offering networking opportunities for travel agents, providing educational opportunities and building consumer awareness for the wonderful services they provide."
An hour-long seminar, "American Express Consumer Travel Network—We've Got it All," has been designed by American Express to highlight its intrinsic commitment to an effective—and profitable—partnership with the travel agent community.
What to Expect
Savvy "experiential" luxury travelers now demand meaningful encounters, from sun/sand trips with a cultural twist to exotic adventures with five-star tents and gourmet meals under the African moon. Roslyn Rappaport, director of service delivery, CTN, will join the mix of suppliers and agents on the panel "Affluent Travel Trends: Glamping, Edu-travel/Culinary Travel."
Francesca Bonavita, executive vice president/general manager, American Express Vacations, will participate in "Going Green & Sustainability: What's the Impact for Luxury Tourism?" About this hot topic, Donna Flora, vice president of the company's travel industry relations, emphasized, "Environmental protection is crucial to the travel industry—great agents and suppliers understand the importance of integrating responsible practices into their companies."
Luxe sells, and the best souvenir for many travelers is its "conversational currency" shared with friends upon return. The agent's challenge: understanding the client's desires and matching them to the right vacation experience. Debbie Chustek, senior manager of destination marketing, CTN, and Kathy Falkensammer, president of Prestige Travel, join the session "Getting Into the Mind of the Affluent Traveler."
At the Booth
Visitors to the American Express booth (number 113) can explore the company's myriad offerings for the travel agent community, from travel services to publishing. Staff will be available to speak with agencies about joining a network possessing the type of brand strength offered by American Express, as well as extensive employment opportunities for Luxury Travel Counselors across American Express' Consumer Travel Network. Besides discovering ways to enhance clients' luxury travel experiences, agents can get giveaways, including aromatherapy eye spa pillows, clipboards, pens and business card holders.
Biggar states, "Through our travel network—including being the largest employer of highly qualified and experienced travel specialists—and our increasingly strong U.S. Representative Travel Network, our ultimate goal is to provide tremendous value to the consumer, which in turn supports the industry."
Attend Luxury Travel Expo in Las Vegas and get the best from suppliers for your discerning clients. Use your American Express card to receive a 10 percent registration fee discount.