Trend-Spotting At The New York Times Travel Show

Martha Chapman, Open Jaw

It was standing-room-only at many of the seminars and panels at the show.

Comfy shoes are a must at the vast New York Times Travel Show, held every January. This recent show, the sixteenth, kept to its promise of excellent exhibitors and wonderful seminars and panels.

The Opening General Session focused on what travellers are looking for. The stats were mostly U.S.-based, but there were takeaways for Canadians too. For example:

Millennials are no longer just ziplining in Costa Rica: Believe it or not, 30% of them now have their own kids. So family travel is one of the biggest trends out there. But forget targeting millennials with Facebook -- they are far more likely to be engaged in Instagram.

RECIPE FOR SUCCESS: During a session featuring retailer head office execs, we learned that the road to travel agent success takes commitment but can bring great rewards. Recommendations included joining associations (travel- and non-travel related such as Rotary or a local Wine or Garden Club). Developing and nurturing your relationships with suppliers. Never forgetting that it’s a people business and personal contacts can be hugely helpful. And – this one was a bit startling – “Know your geography.”

CRUISE UPDATES: Watch out for MSC: it is becoming a major player and will have 29 ships in its fleet by 2027. And a strong retailer tip from CLIA VP Charles Sylvia: “Never say to your BDM ‘How can I sell your product if I’ve never experienced it?’ Say: “Let’s get together for a coffee and discuss how we can build a business plan together.”

TRADE FLOOR TALK: Out on the trade show floor, I learned at the Puerto Rico booth that TS now has flights to SJU from YYZ and YUL. Canada’s own Maxxim Vacations is cleverly aligning itself with the smash Broadway hit show Come From Away and now offers day tours escorted by Gander residents who feature in the play. 

And at the expanded LGBTQ travel aisle, LoAnn Halden, Vice-President of Communications for the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association told me, “We felt we were progressing to the point that we were wondering if there is still a need for development – but now in the U.S .and countries such as Brazil, where there has been a backlash due to conservative government shifts, we feel we have to build our presence even more.”

Martha Chapman

Martha Chapman Columnist

An OJ columnist since 2006, Martha is responsible for the Biting Questions features as well as special seasonal series. A travel industry lifer known to all in the biz, she frequently covers industry events for Open Jaw.



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