MAST Travel Network Posts Record Attendance at Annual Conference

brian o'connorJust as Hollywood takes a script and brings it to life, so must travel agents take an itinerary, create a story, and paint a picture for their customers.

That's what Rick Scarry, a veteran Hollywood actor who has made 110 television appearances and acted in 22 movies, told MAST Travel Network attendees during the travel consortium's and marketing group's 22nd annual conference at Newport Beach, CA last week.

If agents are successful, Scarry said customers will envision themselves on the trip and in the destination - having the experience that will create memories.  

Scarry and other Hollywood executives spoke at one conference panel discussion moderated by Dr. Marc Mancini of Hollywood. The speakers discussed the best practices that have made them successful as well as important parallels for the travel industry.

MAST, which has 200 agency members members in 10 states and Canada. reported a record turn-out - 214 members, suppliers, speakers and guests - for the annual conference at the Newport Beach Marriott.

Among the featured speakers? Travel agent attendees listened to: Harry Dalgaard, President of Avanti Destinations;, Greg Bernd, vice chairman of industry relations for Classic Vacations, and Brian O’Connor, vice president of sales North America for Princess Cruises and Cunard Line.

The three executives told the audience that today’s travelers demand personal and attentive service. They also said travelers are increasingly seeking out customized travel arrangements not only for independent travel but also as part of a tour or cruise vacation.

Another common theme throughout the week was that travelers seek to have memorable travel experiences that they can share with travel companions.

Break-out seminars focused heavily on social media and technology. These seminars were led by Penney Rudicil talking about mobile technology and applications; Chelle Honiker-Yarbrough on Faceboook; Carrie Finley-Bajak on Pinterest; and Cathie Lentz-Fryer on ClientBase as a management and sales tool.
"I was very impressed with the caliber of agents/agencies that are a part of the MAST organization," said Rudicil, the Gadget Girl, who gave the seminar on mobile technology and applications. "They are hard-working professionals eager to learn and improve their skills to better their business.”
SITA World Tours offered two destination immersion seminars on Africa and Asia, presented by their destination specialists and product managers, Max Ali for Asia, and Graeme Watson for Africa. Also, the Globus Family of Brands gave a seminar on their MBA program to increase the knowledge agents have of the Monograms product.
John Werner, president and COO, MAST Travel Network, explained that the  member roundtable session was among the most popular. MAST members talked with their peers and shared details of marketing and promotional activities they did last year that made 2012 a very successful year.
Other conference activities included supplier business appointments, roundtable talks and demostrations. During the conference, Werner also announced that the 2014 annual conference will be held May 2-5 in Santa Fe, NM, at the Eldorado Hotel.
Off-site, conference attendees were treated to an evening at the Disneyland Resort. They also visited John Wayne’s Wild Goose Yacht, cruised Newport Harbor on electric Duffy Boats, and visited Balboa Island.
On the last evening of the conference, the closing reception and dinner was held at the historic Cannery fish and seafood restaurant.

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