The 3-day conference wrapped up on February 9th at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center at National Harbor, Maryland.
CCRA announced higher than anticipated attendance from both the travel agency and travel supplier communities as it concluded their first-ever multi-day conference last week. With more than 700 on hand to participate in over 50 educational and motivational sessions and powerful keynotes. The event was emceed by Growology’s Matthew David and corporate entertainer and mentalist Denny Corby.
The event kicked off on Thursday with Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour, the first African American Female Fighter Pilot for the US Marines educating and motivating agents on the power of mindset and the strength entrepreneurs must possess to achieve their goals. NCAA Head Coach and Motivational Guru Murray Garvin rallied the crowd around the concept of dependability and perseverance when building an entrepreneurial business. Former head of Trafalgar and Brendan Vacations and current CEO of Partner Learning Solutions, Paul Wiseman, was also on hand throughout the event, and gave several key sessions on the power of storytelling in sales, selling responsible tourism, and supplier relationships.
CCRA and Travel Massive’s DC Chapter teamed up with StayArlington and Legends for a Thursday evening reception at the CEB Tower in Arlington, Virginia, while travel agency powerhouse Tammy Levent delivered a 2-hour workshop for new agents alongside GoGo Worldwide Vacations’ Vice President of Sales, Brennan Quesnele.
Kicking off Friday’s events, Executive Producer and Host of This is Life, Lisa Ling, spoke of her storied journalism career traveling the globe spanning more than 2 decades, inspiring the crowd to think differently and appreciate their role as global educators and providers of life-changing experiences. In perhaps one of the most highly regarded sessions, Las Vegas and Miami restauranteur Steve Martorano gave an emotional keynote on his journey to success from Philadelphia bouncer to one of the most respected culinary artists in the industry. At lunch, the original shark from Shark Tank and inventor of the infomercial, Kevin Harrington, rocked the stage with a presentation on entrepreneurialism, sharing key milestones throughout his journey to success as the owner of many successful businesses. Israel Ministry of Tourism and ShoreTrips kicked off lunch with presentations on their latest offerings and opportunities for agents.
Friday also featured topics ranging from travel industry accreditations, booking engines, corporate travel technology, bleisure travel, and groups to sales and marketing bootcamps from industry experts like Matthew David of Growology Consulting, Jennifer Earley of Amplified Marketing Services, and Sandra Cottam McLemore of Village Girl Marketing.
Agents and suppliers then spent several hours on CCRA’s innovative trade show floor, where attendees could stroll amongst more than 120 suppliers, shop in the CCRA PowerSolutions store, or stop for some Italian fare at the Martorano’s booth where everyone experienced some fantastic pasta and gravy.
On Saturday, CCRA brought in renowned travel industry guru and chief Motivation Officer Stuart Cohen, who kicked things off with a groundbreaking keynote on business models and how agencies should be thinking about their approach to reach the top of their game – and stay on top. Following a packed agenda of panels and breakouts, lunch featured NY Times Bestselling Author and social media guru to the stars Jared Shapiro, who convened a panel of experts including Telemundo journalist and blogger Andrea Minski, Kate McCullough of the acclaimed Adventurous Kate blog dedicated to solo female travel, and CheatDayEats superstar Jessica Hirsch who all gave their insights into the power of influence and how travel advisors can harness new approaches and methods in building their own following and monetizing it to strengthen their sales and marketing efforts.
Travel industry legal expert and Travel Weekly columnist Mark Pestronk gave a standing-room only session on everything an agency owner needs to know from a legal perspective, while Nissan’s Chief Information Security Officer John Schaefer taught agents how they can responsibly utilize and protect their data, customer information, and other intellectual property assets. ARC’s President and CEO, Mike Premo, gave select corporate travel agency owners a deep dive into NDC and how it will affect their businesses this year.
Saturday evening wrapped up with a star-studded awards gala and dinner, hosted by former travel host and entrepreneur Brooke Burke on the importance of wellness, balance, and self-care as business owners with families.
CCRA President & CEO Dic Marxen closed out the event with an announcement that the event will take place again next February. CCRA’s PowerSolutions National 2020 will open for registration within the next 45 days.