Signature Travel Network’s Owners’ Meeting is underway at San Francisco’s Palace Hotel.
Keynote presentations at the four-day event explored the latest travel trends, while workshops hosted by Signature’s executive team offered tips on how Signature members can grow their businesses through the network’s marketing, technology and training programs.
Speakers include Anita Mendiratta with CACHET Consulting, Jason Dorsey with the Center for Generational Kinetics and Ron Insana with CNBC. The general session offers the latest news and updates from Signature’s executive team.
Anita Mendiratta, founder and managing director of CACHET Consulting, presents on the impact of tourism around the world. She will also talk about what motivates people to travel and experience other cultures on a personal level. Mendiratta is a five-time published author and has established herself as a valued advisor to governments, especially in times of crisis (natural, economic, political or otherwise). She has become a sought after speaker, moderator and coach in the advancement of tourism for nations across the globe.
Jason Dorsey, chief strategy officer of the Center for Generational Kinetics, talks about the next generation of travel consumers and advisors, as well as their influence on business development trends. Dorsey’s most recent books include Y-Size Your Business and My Reality Check Bounced. He is a prominent Millennials and Gen Z researcher and speaker. He has been featured as a generational expert on 60 Minutes, 20/20, The Today Show and The Early Show, among others. Adweek calls Dorsey a “research guru” and The New York Times featured him in a cover story on marketing to Millennials.
Ron Insana, senior analyst at CNBC and financial industry expert, applies his journalistic perspective to how Wall Street, Main Street and Washington shape the marketplace. Insana is a contributor to CNBC and MSNBC, where he discusses the most pressing economic and market issues of the day. He has written for Money magazine and USA Today and has hosted two nationally syndicated radio programs. He was named one of the "Top 100 Business News Journalists of the 20th Century" and was nominated for a news and documentary Emmy for his role in NBC's coverage of 9/11. He has authored four books about Wall Street and is a highly regarded lecturer on domestic and global economics, financial markets and economic policy issues.
Signature Travel Network executive staff presents the following workshops:
Ignacio Maza, executive vice president, shares hotel industry trends, news regarding Signature’s Hotel and Resort Program, as well as fresh perspectives on the luxury travel market. Signature’s Hotel and Resort Collection now features over 950 preferred properties worldwide, offering privileges to Signature members’ clients.
Karen Yeates, executive vice president of information technologies, provides an overview of notable results for key technology programs, planned enhancements that assist agencies with connectivity between their advisors and clients and efficiencies for consultants. Special mention is made of Client Reach, a proprietary client messaging system, Signature’s proprietary emarketing system and Pocket Travel Consultant by Axus, a private-label travel itinerary app.
Heidi Podjavorsek, vice president of land and specialty suppliers, presents with Brian Holmberg, director of cruise programs. Together, they review new supplier partners, as well as ways to best leverage preferred products to meet the increased demand for new travel experiences and emerging destinations.
Nolan Burris, training program consultant, hosts two workshops. The first examines the issues related to booking fees on a broad scale and ways to prepare advisors on how to implement them. For his second presentation, he is joined by Gina Weyer, vice president of training and member services, and Tiffany Grant, training director. Together, they explore strategies for recruiting, training and retaining new talent of all ages.
Karryn Christopher, senior vice president of sales and marketing, along with other members of Signature’s marketing team, presents tools designed to expand client reach and drive sales. Additionally, all of Signature’s marketing services are reviewed from email marketing and direct mail to database management and prospecting. Christopher hosts a second workshop with Podjavorsek and Holmberg that reviews how agents can maximize every selling opportunity.
15 New Members for Signature
Also at the event, Signature officially welcomed the organization’s 15 newest members. Special events for new members during the meeting include a welcome luncheon and new member forum. These programs are designed to assist new members with understanding the organization’s structure, as well as best practices for maximizing member benefits, Signature said.
The new members that have joined since October 2015 are:
Blue Ribbon Cruise & Travel, Inc., located in Temecula, California, is owned by Linda and Per Nilsen. Established in 2004, the agency has grown from an all-inclusive Crystal Cruise booking agency to the region’s leading luxury cruise travel agency.
Bursch Travel, located in Waite Park, Minnesota, is owned by Frederic Bursch. Founded in 1956, the agency formed as a result of M.W. “Pete” and Audrey Bursch purchasing the Bus Depot Café, a restaurant that also sold bus tickets. Fred Bursch joined the company in 1977, and since then, he has led Bursch Travel to its current size as the largest Upper Midwest travel company with 16 locations in four states.
Casto Travel, located in San Jose, California, is owned by Marc and Maryles Casto. Founded in 1974, this agency is the largest full-service, privately owned travel management company in northern California. Casto Travel is a global company with 200 employees located in offices throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento and Manila.
Five Star Alliance, located in Washington, D.C., is managed by Courtney May. Established in 2005, this agency focuses exclusively on luxury travel with a focus on hotels and resorts.
Four Corners Travel and Concierge Inc., located in Boca Raton, Florida, is owned by Christina Carr, Shayna Feinberg and Sean Gorbell. With more than 25 years of experience in the travel industry, this agency is a travel management company servicing clientele around the world.
Galaxy Travel & Cruises, located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is owned by Dwain Wall and Josh Oretsky. The co-owners joined forces to bring Wall’s travel background and Oretsky’s business acumen to their well-traveled clients.
Gulliver’s Travel Service, located in Fort Worth, Texas, is owned by Susie and Harvey Boysen. This full-service agency was founded in 1994 and operates in three divisions: leisure, corporate and online with 15 employees and 50 independent agents. Susie Boysen has been in the travel business for more than 30 years. Along with her husband, Harvey, the couple has visited over 125 countries. They specialize in luxury cruises, tours and escorted groups.
RubysTravel.com, LLC, located in Wayne, New Jersey, is owned by Ruby and James Stanfield. Ruby Stanfield began her journey as a travel professional in 1989 as an independent agent. She now employs more than 50 independent agents, each of whom has their own specialization, such as destination weddings, groups, cruises and more.
The Travel Gallery, located in Tequesta, Florida, is owned by Joan and David Dowrick. This agency is family-owned with two locations serving Jupiter Island and the Palm Beaches. Joan Dowrick opened the Tequesta office in 1983, and her son, David Dowrick, opened the Hobe Sound office in 1986. Both offices are traditional full-service travel agencies for leisure and corporate travelers needing travel and concierge-style services.
Travel Specialists, located in Honolulu, Hawaii, is owned by Rodney and Debbe Lau. Founded in 1995, the company customizes worldwide itineraries utilizing luxury cruises and tours in combination with private tour guides and destination management companies.
Vista Travel, located in Colonia, New Jersey, is owned by Peter and Robin Scocca. Established in 1971, this family-owned business had their first location in the New York/Keansburg bus terminal. Their reputation for giving reliable travel information and service helped them grow into one of the most recognized travel companies in New Jersey.
Windsor Travel, located in Houston, Texas, is owned by Angie and Jim Schwartz. Founded in 1985, they focus on high-end leisure land tours and cruises in the Galleria area of Houston.
World Travel Service, located in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is owned by Alex Eaton. Established in 1959, the company began as a traditional travel agency, but has now become a nationally recognized travel management and vacation planning agency focused on corporate and leisure travel.
Corporate Travel Services (CTS), located in Mexico City, Mexico, is owned by Jose Luis Castro Gomez. This agency represents Signature’s first member in Mexico. CTS is a travel management company specializing in business travel services. Established 20 years ago, CTS has grown into the leading business travel agency within the Mexican market by providing highly-qualified and customized service and technology.
Platinum Travel Corporation, located in Sydney, Australia, is owned by Carl Buerckner and Greg McCarthy. Founded in 2009, this agency set out to bridge the gap between global conglomerates and smaller, service-based agencies. Platinum Travel is a full-service agency that offers corporate, event and leisure travel management services and has expanded to four offices on the East Coast of Australia with 70+ staff.