Day One Roundup of Luxury Travel Expo

LAS VEGAS, Nevada –The 12th annual Luxury Travel Expo got its feet wet on Tuesday with the inaugural Young Leaders Conference. I was on hand for the event, which attracted roughly 110 agents and tourism representatives under the age of 40.

“I’m usually the youngest one at all these events and conferences, so its great to be able to trade advice with people my own age for a change,” says Aimee Leon, manager of leisure services for Travel Dynamics Group in La Jolla, California. “It’s very beneficial.”

Attendees sat through six interesting presentations from such industry icons as Jack E. Mannix, of Jack E. Mannix & Associates, along with Nancy Strong, CEO of Strong Travel Services; Kathryn W. Sudeikis, vice president of corporate relations for All About Travel; Michelle Mangio, owner of Magical Express and Ralph Iantosca, owner of Go Girl Travel.

“The energy throughout the day was exciting and innovative,” says the event’s host, Jose Barreiro, group director of sales for The Travel + Hospitality Group. “It was so wonderful to see some of the travel industry’s brightest young professionals interacting with longstanding industry icons. It made all of us hopeful about the future of the travel agent.”

After the roughly seven-hour conference, I had enough time to race to my room, write a bit, change into my suit and race back downstairs for the 10th annual Awards of Excellence where the big winners were Geoffrey Gelardi, The Lanesborough for Top General Manager of a Luxury Hotel/Resort Worldwide and Abercrombie & Kent for Top Luxury Destination Management Company Worldwide.

Along with the 2010 Awards of Excellence winners, Luxury Travel Advisor honored Kathy Sudeikis, vice president of corporate relations for All About Travel, as Top Humanitarian for 2010. The Top Humanitarian award is bestowed on those travel industry professionals who are not only committed to the betterment of the industry, but who use their notoriety to bring attention to communities and individuals in need.

I’ll be covering LTE through Thursday, so keep visiting and for updates from the show.