FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 7, 2019
2019 Romance Travel Forum Selects Dynamic Sellers for Advisory Board
(Boston, MA – February 7, 2019) Romance Travel Forum, a B2B event designed for established top-performing romance travel specialists, has announced the election of its five Advisory Board members for the 2019 program. The event, which will be held at the Hard Rock Vallarta, Mexico from May 5 – 9, is the industry’s leading event for romance travel experts, with an emphasis on destination weddings, honeymoons and other romantic milestones celebrated with travel.
“The romance vacation market offers a plethora of business opportunities along with many unique challenges which specialists face on a day-to-day basis. In our commitment to provide our delegates with a business event experience like no other, we are continuously tasking ourselves to evolve and to best support today’s romance travel seller. The 2019 Advisory Board will play a critical role in helping us unearth new ideas, develop real-world content and curate an exceptional 2019 Forum”, said Jennifer Fernandez, Vice President Events & Content, Specialty Travel Forums.
The Advisory Board will work cohesively with the Event Management team in building a 360-degree event, sharing input to develop content, event happenings, engaging elements and more. The 2019 Romance Travel Forum Advisory Board will include:
Mandy Delve, Luxury Travel & Celebrations Designer at TWIL Travel
Mandy’s passion for travel was born from her earliest childhood memories of sitting with her father on the roof of his car, parked near the airport and watching the planes landing and taking off…trying to guess what exotic locations they were coming or going to.
After graduating from high school and unsure what career she wanted to pursue, Mandy realized the travel industry was her calling. Mandy enrolled in Humber College’s Travel & Tourism program and graduated with honors. After an internship at Flight Centre, she was promoted to management within 6 months and consistently achieved top sales performance awards.
In 2004, before Destination Weddings were “a thing,” Mandy planned her own and first destination wedding.
In 2007, she took a hiatus from travel in the work sense, and spent 8 months in Cuba. It was there that she developed a different perspective on travel, and an appreciation for the experiental element of what it meant to travel. After a few years managing an Adventure travel company, and planning weddings on the side, Mandy realized that she wanted to focus on destination events, and joined LUXE Destination Weddings as their Senior Destination Wedding Specialist. After 8 years growing with LUXE, she realized that it was time to start building her own business, and Beyond Travel Designers was born.
Mandy’s experiences have brought her to realize this; travel is all about the experience. It is not about the resort, or the destination, it is about the memories, the celebrations and the moments that stay with you long after the pictures are shared and the suitcases are packed away. Destination Weddings and Romance travel are about pairing love with travel, and love is the greatest expression and reason to travel. Mandy didn’t pigeon-hole herself as a Destination Wedding & Romance Travel Specialist, because the relationship created when planning travel for love, is a lifelong and ever-evolving relationship with her clients. Wedding anniversaries and Engagement trips lead to babymoons, family vacations and multi-generational travel. Her goal with any client who embarks on a journey out of love, is to form a relationship that last throughout all the milestones of their life, leading up to retirement travel.
Mandy’s business goals for the future are to grow the evolution of experiential travel even further by creating an awareness of the social and economical issues in the destinations she sends her clients to. Mandy’s passion for humanitarianism, has led her to become involved in, and create opportunities for her clients to give back to communities in need, thereby enhancing their appreciation for the destinations they create their own memories of a lifetime in.
Renee Dunkin, Owner, Around About Travel
Renee Dunkin Owner of Around About Travel, a full-service travel agency. While Renee specializes in Honeymoon and Romance travel, she manages all travel segments, and her personality allows her to connect with clients right away. Renee’s success as a travel agent is also directly linked to the quality of suppliers’ she hand selects for her clients. With their broad selection of travel products and their customer service, Renee relies on their knowledge as well. After being in this industry for over 20 years, her clients know that she is there for them before, during and after their travel. Renee cultivates new business through repeat customers that recommend her to their friends and families. Treating people like she’d want her own family to be treated has been another key to her success.
Steven Gould, President / CEO, CTC, ETC, Goulds Travel
Travel was always more than just a hobby, it is his biggest passion. Steven started working in this industry 13 years ago, as a front desk agent. Shortly after, he opened Goulds Travel and found himself selling vacation packages all around the world. His specialty began with cruises and all-inclusive vacations, which helped him brand as a Romance Specialist and started his career in Group Travel. A large majority of his business is comprised of destination weddings, honeymoons, anniversary trips, and bachelor/bachelorette parties. After obtaining his CTC and ECC, he now focuses his marketing efforts on Group and Luxury Travel within the romance market. He made it his mission to learn as much about the travel industry as possible, but the adventure-seeker in him decided to take it to the next level. Whether jumping out of a plane, zip-lining through a rain-forest, tubing through an underground cave, sitting pool side at an all-inclusive resort, seeing the ancient history of Europe, trying new foods I’ve never heard of, sipping tea in front of a fire in an authentic castle, or relaxing on a cruise with a group of friends, he likes to immerse himself in whatever activity he can find to better serve his clients. He’s not just a regular Travel Agent, he works as a Travel Advocate. With his personal experiences, coupled with a Masters in Public Administration and a Bachelors in Hospitality Management, he coordinates personalized travel experiences for each of his clients – no matter the itinerary! Understanding that being a travel adviser can be a lonely career, he created a Travel Mentoring program, bringing together other Travel Associates and assisting with day-to-day operations (Sales, Networking, Booking, etc.). Many people ask “are travel agents still around?” His answer to them—- “come meet my team!”
Heather Kogler, Director of Wedding Sales, Modern Destination Weddings
After earning a degree at Texas A&M University, Heather spent several years planning hospitality events and travel for corporate sponsors in the professional sports and entertainment industries. While working with professional athletes and Hollywood A-listers, she developed a strong desire to help others plan successful and meaningful events; however, it wasn’t until she booked and planned her own destination wedding that she knew she was destined to plan destination weddings for a living!
Heather began her career in the Romance Travel Industry in 2015 when she started working at Modern Vacations and Destination Weddings. Since joining the team, she has booked over 200 weddings and in just four short years, she has helped the company grow from 4 employees to 23. Currently, she is the Director of Wedding Sales and manages a team of 5 Wedding Resort Specialists who dedicate their time to finding the dream wedding resort for wedding couples based on their needs, budget, and vision for their special day. Modern Vacations and Destination Weddings has received several awards in recent years including the Best of The Knot, Wedding Wire Couples’ Choice Awards, Apple Vacations Platinum Preferred Agency, Funjet Vacations Platinum 500 Club Agency, AIC Hotel Group Amped Triple Platinum Agency, AIC Hotel Group Top Wedding Producer, Top 5 Agency in the US for Jamaica, and Playa Resorts Top Agency for Jamaica Weddings.
Heather’s background in high profile event planning has given her the essential tools to provide her wedding couples with the knowledge and experience needed to guide them through such an important event in their lives. She is so thankful that she has the opportunity to help others through her passion for travel and event planning, and she looks forward to creating many more memorable events in the future!
Claire Robinson, Owner/Manager, Claire Skies Travel
With a decorated career in travel, spanning over more than 25 years, Claire Robinson launched the aptly named, Claire Skies Travel in 2012. After having served in a corporate leadership role with the then Caribbean’s leading airline, the transition to owner of an independent retail travel agency, bringing her years of expertise directly to the consumer was a no brainer. Since the agency’s inception, just six years ago, Claire’s focus on service centered around destination weddings, honeymoons and group travel has earned her countless industry accolades. Among them are being named one of the top 50 grossing travel agencies in the world for destination Jamaica, and having been crowned a platinum agency with Palace Resorts.
Prior to spearheading the rapidly growing Claire Skies Travel, Claire Robinson held the positions of Account Executive, Area Sales Manager and later Regional Sales Manager with responsibility for the Mid-Atlantic Region of the United States. Covering states from Pennsylvania down to Virginia, Claire worked closely with travel professionals marketing several islands in the Caribbean.
Specializing in the acquisition of increased market share and revenue growth, Claire successfully developed and expanded the African American and Caribbean markets in the Northeast region while based in New York as Regional Sales Manager, Special Markets.
After the divestiture of Air Jamaica in 2010, Claire continued to work closely with Caribbean tourist boards, travel wholesalers and the travel agent community remaining an active member of the Caribbean Tourism Organization and currently as a member of the Professional Travel Agent of North America, Maryland Chapter.
Claire has been recognized for her contribution to the development of Caribbean tourism having been elected Chapter President of the Caribbean Tourist Organization’s Maryland Chapter 1999-2000.
Recognizing the importance of maintaining relationships, Claire remains an active participant in several organizations, working closely with Caribbean Tourist Boards, tour operators and several other industry partners.
Romance Travel Forum is an exclusive boutique-sized event that will engage and host a maximum of 190 top-performing travel sellers from across North America. Participating travel sellers take part in a stringent qualification process, comprising a written application, telephone interview, professional reference evaluation and more. Delegates are recognized travel sellers in the romance vacation market, with more than 75% of their business deriving from romance bookings and must meet a specific threshold in annual sales volume and year-to-year growth. Event highlights include peer-to-peer small group discussions; product and destination seminars; experiential networking and evening functions (with suppliers); on-location site inspections, activities, familiarization experiences and a Showcase floor housing 90 of the world’s most sought-after vacation providers. Travel agents and suppliers conduct mutual interest one-to-one meetings over the course of the two-day Showcase floor.
ABOUT SPECIALTY TRAVEL FORUMS
Romance Travel Forum is produced by Specialty Travel Forums, a division of Travel Show Marketing Group (TravelSMG), an independent event organizer who caters exclusively to the North American travel agent community. The Specialty Travel Forums division offers innovative programming and content to support the professional growth of travel agents eager to cultivate their business and expertise through specialization. Comprised of a series of exclusive independent programs in key destinations, each is focused on individual niche markets providing in-depth training, brand certification, intimate networking, supplier relations, product knowledge and more. These exclusive programs offer limited space, allowing delegates to gain focused niche training while experiencing a full familiarization of the host destination to increase the breadth of their specialty offerings. The TravelSMG team has a proven track record in producing some of the most acclaimed leisure travel trade shows and events, working collaboratively with the industry’s leading organizations and experts, to provide top-notch education, networking and supplier engagement. For more information on TravelSMG visit www.TravelSMG.com.
Travel agents interested in learning more or wish to apply for one of the coveted Romance Travel Forum positions can apply here: https://www.romancetravelforum.com/2018-attendee-application/
Suppliers interested in learning more or exhibiting should contact Jennifer Fernandez, VP Events & Content via telephone at (718) 979-1952 or email Jennifer@SpecialtyTravelForums.com.