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Signature Travel’s Annual Conference Wows Attendees

About a month ago JAX FAX had the opportunity to attend

Signature’s Annual Conference in Las Vegas with the theme Shaping Travel Together. With over 2,600 in attendance, including 1,700 Signature member Travel Advisors, the three-day conference proved to be a huge success. Included in this number were 250 Embark Advisors (new Travel Advisors) and over 730 Signature members who were attending the conference for the first time. In addition, there were 850 suppliers representing 580 companies. Signature currently has 281 member agencies across 804 locations, comprising more than 15,000 travel advisors.

 

In his opening address, Signature President and CEO, Alex Sharpe, reflected on a banner year for Signature’s member companies having booked over 1.5 million vacations for their clients. Furthermore, as of November 2023, 60% of the total bookings for 2023 were already on the books for 2024. These numbers were reflective of bookings with preferred suppliers, which accounted for 89% of all member bookings.

 

Sharpe did note ongoing challenges that the industry faces, including ongoing wars in Ukraine and Israel, an upcoming election year, and events that can’t be planned for, like the devasting wildfire in Maui. However, he also noted that these challenges can elevate the importance of using a travel advisor and further highlight your value.

 

Continuing Education
One theme that was repeated throughout the conference was the need for continuing education for Travel Advisors. Alex noted that Signature made a large investment in technology during Covid and it was important that they educate their member agents in the use of these new technological tools. The conference workshops provided this opportunity to attending members. Also important in terms of education is bringing new advisors up to speed, which was the impetus for the development of the new Embark program. This includes a three year agreement with ASTA to offer the society’s “Roadmap to Becoming a Travel Advisor” courses as part of the consortia’s new Signature Embark sales training program.

 

Where to Go in 2024
During his presentation Signature’s Executive Vice President, Ignacio Maza, encouraged advisors to seek out new places to promote to clients and encouraged finding new ways to experience new destinations. He noted that, post-Covid, travelers were seeking “exploration travel, an escape from cities to enjoy nature.” On his list of “off the beaten track” destinations for 2024 were: Jutland, Denmark; South Island, New Zealand; Istria, Croatia; Northern Canada; Fez, Morocco; Los Cabos, Mexico; Eastern Cape, South Africa; Atacama Desert, Chile; AlUla, Saudi Arabia; Antarctica; Seoul, South Korea; Hawaii; Chiang Rai, Thailand.

 

A Night at the Sphere
Perhaps the most exciting event of the conference was the closing night gala at the Las Vegas Sphere. Signature was the first private group to do a take over of this new venue and it proved to be a memorable evening. The evening started with a reception with passed hors d’ ouevres and open concession stands. The delegates then moved inside the screening area of the sphere to view the movie Postcards from Earth. This immersive experience is like no other, providing a 3D experience without the need to wear glasses. It was truly a remarkable evening.
Happy New Year! I hope 2024 is one of good health and prosperity for Travel Advisors!

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