AAA Travel, one of North America’s largest leisure travel agencies, hosted its first in-person conference since the start of the pandemic on October 23-25 in Orlando, Florida. With a theme of “Ready for Departure,” the event focused on the renewed love affair people are having with travel and how the industry is responding. The conference brought together leaders from the industry and featured world-renowned speakers, including futurist and innovation specialist Gil Haddi; chief economist Wayne Best; future-of-work thought leader, research and author Heather McGowan; leadership expert, author, and coach, Dr. Ivan Joseph, and more.
“Travel is experiencing a rebirth as it emerges from the pandemic. And we felt this electricity at our conference as industry leaders, top suppliers, and travel agents came together for the first time in over two years,” said Paula Twidale, AAA Travel’s senior vice president. “AAA views itself as a bridge, connecting travelers to the best the industry offers in lodging, experiences, service, and expertise. Whether that’s on land or at sea – here or internationally.”
During the conference, industry speakers shared insights into the future of travel, including:
All-inclusive resorts are gaining popularity as people look to unpack once and make the most of their travel budget
Customization and personalization are key as travelers look to have unique, once-in-a-lifetime vacations
Travel agents are an essential piece of the planning process – providing education, expertise, and guidance to create curated and one-of-a-kind experiences
AAA and the travel industry are placing a strong emphasis on Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DE&I) as well as Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG). Both in their business practices as well as what is available to travelers.
“People first – was the overarching message we heard throughout the conference,” continued Twidale. “Travel connects us to one another, and it only makes sense, especially after the last few years, that we as an industry are even more focused on the human side of those experiences.”
AAA’s top-performing agents were honored with Travel Agent Superlative Awards for sales performance. Addtionally, AAA also also presented leading travel industry suppliers with the prestigious AAA Partner of the Year Awards. These highly coveted awards recognize the partners’ commitment to providing AAA travel agents and members with exemplary travel services in their respective product categories and for marketing, member service, and travel agency support. In 2022, the AAA Champion Award was added to recognize the travel partner that went above and beyond in servicing AAA members and travel agents. This award was voted on by AAA travel agents, across the Association.
“We are proud to present AAA Travel’s Partner of the Year Awards to some of the top companies in the travel industry. AAA chooses only to work with preferred partners whose products and services reflect our brand, and these companies offer exceptional value to our members,” said Twidale. “We are also honored to recognize our top travel agents, based not only on remarkable sales levels but, more importantly, their commitment to personalized vacation planning and advocacy for our members.”