NYT Travel Show Industry Day

“Please use travel agents,” is the mantra of the New York Times Travel Show Trade Day. The show itself is driven by destination tourism bureaux and travel agents, with a big dose of mega cruise ships, so that focus is understandable.

NYT Travel Show 2014 Travel Agents

Please use us!

I dipped in and out of the panels to hear industry naval-gazing and topics different from my travel life. A panel on tour agents reported surprising strength in bookings from millennials, and the fierce struggle for ever more authentic-seeming experiences that can be sold en masse and are “fully commissionable.” I give Harry Dalgaard of Avanti Destinations, a company that packages tours for consumer and travel agents, the humor award for quips like an answer to a question about travel agent bookings for honeymooners, “We see a lot of travel agents booking honeymoons, a lot, whether or not there are any honeymooners.”

NYT Travel Show 2014 Travel Agent Panel

Harry Dalgaard on the far left

River cruising is the hot thing in high-end travel as operators scour the world for navigable waterways.

By all the talk of Croatia, I suspect there are more tourists there in high season than locals.

Most fascinating to me was the peek into medical travel. Companies such as Companion Global Healthcare, which was represented on the panel, have sprung up to create global hospital networks and serve as intermediaries in pairing patients with overseas facilities and coordinate with home country physicians and insurance. There are many nuances and seemingly endless choice so I see a useful role for such intermediaries. For instance, many candidate patients assume their travel insurance will cover mishaps, however medical travel is a standard exclusion for policies in the US, giving rise to specialist insurers such as Global Protective Solutions. The moderator cautioned general travel agents from straying into medical advice, and to check with liability insurance first if they are tempted. I need to check if my employer’s medical plan cover medical travel since some do.

Medical travel is not just for wealthy country residents seeking low cost care or to skip the line, but also, as the Dr. Mary Won Lai Lin from the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council noted, for a large number of patients who have no viable care in their home country. She did a great sales job for Malaysia as a destination – only in Asia would several slides be pictures of piles of food!

There had to be a panel of the future of travel media. It was a dud that I left the packed, overheated room halfway through and heard later there were finally some sparks when Jason Clampet of Skift reportedly made a comment that many travel blogs are “worthless” due to little audience, understandable in the context of the discussion, according to one level-headed attendee.

‘How to Find and Work with Travel Bloggers’ by Jennifer Miner of The Vacation Gals was interesting to  see old school travel agents seek to come to grips with what value blogs may offer. Core message: trust nothing but Google Analytics when it comes to stats.

An interesting travel day where I heard virtually nothing about airlines, hotels, rental cars, frequent flyer programs, or…credit cards.

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  • dhammer53

    Funny you should mention Croatia. We’re spending 12 days there. Hope this doesn’t encourage others. 😉

  • @dhammer53 – I have only heard good things about Croatia, not made it there myself. You can’t go too soon when it becomes the buzz at an event like this, for this crowd it may still take a year or two for Myanmar to come on their radar.

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  • Joey

    Was the Points Guy and/or Johnny Jet there? I went to the NY Times travel show last year (it was held in January back then) and the Points Guy and Johnny Jet were the only speakers there talking about points/cards.

    I, too, have yet to go to Croatia but hope to visit the former yugoslav countries and balkan region sometime in the next 5 years. I would have thought they’d talk more on Brazil since it’s hosting the world cup and the olympics within the next 2 years.

    Will you be speaking at FTU Seattle? In Tampa, I enjoyed going to your session and hearing your views on travel to really interesting places!

  • @Joey – I will do a write-up this weekend on the consumer days of the travel show. The Points Guy was there both day, no Johnny Jet this year, but new was Peter Greenberg. My favorite is the Frommers who like last year gave one talk on travel trends and one on destinations.

    I will likely be speaking in Seattle, subject to the final schedule from the organizers.