While most traditional meet-and-greets during travel industry events involve a casual gathering in a hotel lobby with name tags and champagne, Los Angeles decided to use a different approach to welcome the 13 top-selling millennial agents to the first domestic Millennial Travel Forum (MTF).
A luxury box at the LA Galaxy soccer game instead served as the sight of the first official event of the Millennial Travel Forum, which concluded last week in the City of Angels.
“We were honored to host the kick-off event for the Millennial Travel Forum. For many of the travel advisors, it was their first [Major League Soccer] game, so it was nice to see how eager they were to learn about the LA Galaxy,” said Chris Klein, president of the team. “We are looking forward to continuing to grow our footprint in tourism and develop one-of-a-kind experiences that leave lasting impressions with fans across the world.”
“I am not even a soccer fan,” said Brittany Bridgewater, an advisor with TravelSmiths, Inc., “but seeing how passionate the fans are about cheering on the home team makes this an exciting night out for anyone and everyone.”
The Millennial Travel Forum, which took place in L.A. from March 31 – April 4, was first launched by travAlliancemedia last year to showcase millennial travel agents as the industry’s real influencers. It is a multi-day, hosted event that brings an intimate group of carefully-vetted millennial travel experts to a specific destination in the U.S. and around the world.
“We were fortunate to host such a highly-engaged group of travel advisors in Los Angeles for the MTF as they provided thoughtful insight and feedback throughout the four-day program,” said Tamy Martelli, the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board’s regional director for the U.S. and Canada. “It was especially great to connect with each of these agents individually to learn about the various clients they serve and how they use social media. We look forward to having an ongoing, open dialogue with these influential travel advisors.”
For the Millennial Travel Forum Los Angeles, agents were personally invited by the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board through an application process that centered around such criteria as sales volume, familiarity with the destination, and both the number and quality of the advisors’ social media followers.
“The Millennial Travel Forum was an excellent experience all around. Getting to know Los Angeles was invaluable, as it is a multi-faceted city with so much to offer to a variety of travelers,” said Kacie Darden, owner of Blue Pineapple Travel in Atlanta. “I thought the mix of experiences and meetings with L.A. attractions, hotels, and venues was a perfect balance for learning the destination. I feel prepared to help my clients curate an incredible trip to LA after the Millennial Travel Forum. I made fantastic connections with other travel advisors and also with L.A. suppliers that I am excited to engage in future business.”
Here’s a full breakdown of the event. Check out pictures of the journey taken by the attendees by clicking here for all of their social media handles. Also, be sure to use hashtags #MTFLosAngeles and #discoverLA on all social media platforms to see all posts from the event.
Health and Wellness at the Forefront
For a destination known for its healthy-living lifestyle, it was no surprise that agents in attendance raved about the city’s offerings for the active traveler.
Among the health and wellness highlights shared by the agents was a hike through the Hollywood Hills at Griffith Park, culminating with photos in front of the iconic Hollywood sign.
“Being an active person, I really enjoyed the hike to see the Hollywood sign,” said Ryan Doncsecz, an advisor with VIP Vacations, Inc. in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. “It had the right amount of challenge, and we did a 2.5-to-three-mile version. Tons of great area views and city shots, and perfect locations to grab that Instagram-worthy Hollywood sign shot.”
Another healthy highlight was rooftop yoga at OUE Skyspace LA. After all, simple yoga isn’t wowing people anymore. Health and wellness offerings need to have a wrinkle now. And doing yoga while overlooking an iconic city definitely qualifies as a unique touch to traditional practice.
“Los Angeles is an underrated city for wellness,” said Leah Bilquist, an advisor with TravelSmiths, Inc. in Point Pleasant, New Jersey. “Your weekend getaway could include rooftop yoga at OUE Skyscape or a hike in the Hollywood Hills. Also, there are great dining options from fresh pressed juice bars to delicious sushi restaurants. You will leave feeling more refreshed than when you got arrived in the city.”
Food and Beverage
Speaking of the “delicious” dining options, the 13 agents were all treated to some of L.A. finest cuisines and tastiest adult beverages.
Among the culinary highlights of the Millennial Travel Forum was a food tour by Avital Food Tours, featuring cuisine most visitors to L.A. would be pleasantly surprised to find from top-notch Indian restaurants to a restaurant specializing in Mediterranean-fusion.
The tour ended with a mixology lesson at Clayton’s Public House, which has a very retro Hollywood theme. Case in point can be found on the bar’s walls, which include the bedroom door of Charlie Chaplin’s old room at the iconic Ace Hotel.
Agents then took part in a bar-hopping tour with LA Beer Hop that featured some of the city’s best, locally-brewed craft beers.
Other food and beverage highlights from the forum included a farewell dinner at Terra, a wood-burning Italian grill restaurant located within Eataly L.A.; cocktails at the Broken Shaker, located on the rooftop pool deck of The Freehand Hotel; dinner at Openaire, which is located within The LINE Hotel and specializes in sharable dishes of some of L.A. best meat and seafood options, and lunch at Neighbor, which serves up tasty burgers and delicious beer, amongst other options.
And, of course, no trip to Los Angeles is complete without some good sushi. Agents met their sushi quota at Sakana Sushi Lounge, which served up hand-selected fish and creative Japanese cuisine in an elegant setting in Downtown Los Angeles.
Agents stayed at the luxurious NoMad Los Angeles for the first two nights. Located on the lively corner of seventh and Olive Street in Downtown L.A., the hotel includes 241 rooms and suites. The highlight of the hotel, however, is the rooftop pool and gathering space overlooking downtown. The agents also go to tour the Sydell Group’s other two Los Angeles hotels, The Freehand and The LINE.
“Being a millennial myself, it’s very exciting to see this new, ambitious and passionate generation of travel industry professionals coming into power so to speak, and it shows that travel agencies are far from going extinct,” said Robert Kellerman, director of sales and marketing NoMad Los Angeles Hotel.
For the last two nights of the forum, agents stayed at LEVEL Furnished Living, which aims to blend the privacy that the sharing economy provides travelers with the amenities and service of a top-notch, luxury hotel. It includes 303 fully-furnished suites and offers agents a 10 percent commission.
Guests have access to a 24-hour concierge service and L Club, an exclusive floor that includes BBQ and fire pits, a fitness center, basketball court, and an outdoor, 70-foot, heated pool with a hot tub, steam room and sauna pavilion.
The B2B Program
After a few days of soaking up the fun and sun in L.A., it was time to get to business.
The third day of the MTF featured an extensive B2B program that included a networking breakfast with the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board’s marketing team, one-on-one appointments with L.A. suppliers and a final networking reception with both suppliers and tourism representatives.
“Being a new museum opening in late 2019 in Los Angeles, it was very nice for the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board to arrange for experiences to meet the agents in person to ask them directly about the trends and what the millennial traveler is really looking for in a destination,” said Rowena Adalid, director of sales with Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. “The Millennial Travel Forum helped to provide us with valuable insights to develop and expand our product offerings in order to be a consideration to this very important, growing customer segment.”
Other highlights of the B2B program included a focus group session with Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board representatives and a roundtable discussion with the agents on how to best sell the destination.
“The focus group and roundtable was an amazing highlight of the day,” said George Andritsakis, an advisor with Snelgrove Travel Center in Layton, Utah. “I heard so many incredible thoughts and insights from a baker’s dozen of some of the U.S.’s finest travel agents. I love get-togethers like that as they usually tend to bring out ideas on top of other ideas, feeding off the original question.”
Art and Culture
The final day of the Millennial Travel Forum provided the trip’s best visuals from a street art tour that combined great storytelling with the city’s best graffiti, and ended at Venice Beach, to some virtual reality at Westfield Century City.
“There is so much culture in the Los Angeles area, so what better way to get accustomed than by some local art,” said Doncsecz. “And I’m not talking a museum, but the graffiti and street art of Venice Beach. Our guide had an awesome way of explaining the different forms, styles, artists, while also comparing the commissionable street art to the illegal, overnight graffiti. There was a lot to see and it was a fun way to see the streets and area.”