WHAT A WAY TO CLOSE OUT THE YEAR! Vegas Travel Week, our huge weeklong industry confab, took place at the Mandalay Bay convention center the first week of December, and what an overwhelming success it was. More than 10,000 travel professionals of every stripe were there to network, learn, make deals and enjoy all that our events and the amazing city of Las Vegas had to offer.
Vegas Travel Week was built up around our phenomenally successful Luxury Travel Expo, about to celebrate its 10th anniversary. Last year, we introduced the Home-Based Travel Agent Expo & Conference. Each of these stands alone as the premier event for their particular market segment. But our thought was that with these two events occurring separately but co-located, one plus one would equal three. We were right, and took that thinking a step further.
So with Luxury Travel Expo and Home-Based Travel Agent Expo anchoring the week, we invited and encouraged other organizations to attach their events to ours, with the resulting whole being considerably greater than the sum of its parts. From December 2 through December 8, we had a host of friends join us in Las Vegas.
1. The Travel Institute held its annual conference at the beginning of the week. It was the largest ever, with more than 600 agents attending.
2. Signature Travel Network held its annual meeting at the end of the week. More than 1,100 travel agents and 570 suppliers participated in this high-profile event.
3. NEST also held its annual "NEST Fest" early in the week and featured excellent educational seminars and networking opportunities.
4. CLIA hosted a number of standing-room-only educational seminars—always extremely popular.
5. Visit Southern Africa and South African Airways held their second annual educational seminar series. More than 160 agents got intense training on travel to the region, networked with suppliers and had a traditional South African dinner and a very nontraditional—but fun—evening of bowling!
Then, of course, we presented the seventh annual Leaders in Luxury Awards to four people who exemplify luxury and service. Deborah Natansohn, former president and COO of Seabourn Cruise Line, was honored posthumously in the cruise category. Rohan Vos, founder, owner and president of Rovos Rail Tours Ltd. in South Africa, won in the tour category. Sibyl Wild, president, Sibyl Wild Inc. Travel Service, was awarded the Outstanding Travel Professional. And Ian Schrager, chairman and CEO of the Ian Schrager Company, was the hotel honoree.
A really fun aspect of the week was our first annual Luxury After Dark Party at Studio 54. More than 1,500 agents and suppliers mixed, mingled, danced and had a ball.
Make sure to mark your calendar now for next December. The 2008 Vegas Travel Week will take place the week of December 1. We hope you can join us.