By Bruce Piper
There may still be some sore heads from last month’s travel industry festivities, which included back-to-back celebratory weekends for some.
First cab off the rank was the Flight Centre Global Gathering in Hawaii, and by all accounts this year took the event to the next level. Headline acts included DJ and producer Mark Ronson alongside 80s British superstar pop band Duran Duran, whose performance saw a massive mosh pit populated by many of the older Flight Centre staffers. And as if that wasn’t sensational enough, the keynote presenter was none other than former US president Bill Clinton, who captivated the crowd with his motivational speech. It will be hard to top the event next year, but Flight Centre is certain to give it a try with the 2018 Global Gathering set to take place in Berlin, Germany.
The following week it was the National Travel Industry Awards in Sydney. The 2017 NTIA for the first time took place at the International Convention Centre Sydney, with attendees universally praising the venue as a great improvement on the facilities used for the last few years while the ICC was under construction. The industry-wide event saw top agents and suppliers honoured, and travelBulletin was thrilled to once again be the media sponsor and to produce the themed program. There’s full coverage of all the glitz and glamour in this issue.
AFTA CEO Jayson Westbury took the opportunity afforded by the awards ceremony to deliver an upbeat assessment of the future of the travel distribution sector. “Travel agents aren’t going anywhere, and the sooner the analysts, journalists, futurists and doomsayers cotton onto this, we could all do so much better together. There is no question that the travel agent in Australia has a strong and prosperous future for decades to come,” he said. Westbury also raised political hackles by aggressively urging the Federal Government to “get out of our way and allow us to thrive and continue to grow — despite what you may throw at us”.
It was gratifying to see travelBulletin co-founder Ian McMahon granted Life Membership of the Australian Federation of Travel Agents during the NTIA opening. McMahon “is a man who has been in the travel industry all of his life…he has been dedicated to telling the stories that need to be told, speaking the truth, uncovering the scoop, having some fun along the way and when it really matters supporting the industry in any and every way he can,” Westbury said.
I very much echo those sentiments. We at travelBulletin value Ian’s legacy, with the magazine now a key part of the Business Publishing Group stable alongside Travel Daily, Cruise Weekly and Business Events News.