News: Barbados to Host First Millennial Travel Forum
Barbados will become the first destination to host the Millennial Travel Forum (MTF) when it kicks off MTF: Barbados in just under two weeks.
The event, taking place December 12 – 16, features 15 successful Millennial agents who were invited by travAlliancemedia and ultimately selected by the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI) after an approval process.
“Being the first destination to host the MTF underpins the importance Barbados places in the Millennial segment, a segment that is growing exponentially and which represents an essential investment for future business,” said Petra Roach, U.S. director of the BTMI.
So, what is the Millennial Travel Forum and what can you expect from MTF: Barbados?
Launched by travAlliancemedia back in late August, the Millennial Travel Forum is a multi-day, hosted event that brings 15 to 20 Millennial travel agents to a specific destination around the world.
“The Millennial Travel Forum will bring together an intimate group of agents who will learn how to sell a destination and its hotels,” said Mark Murphy, president and CEO of travAlliancemedia. “Through their own social media while on location, as well as the amplification of their social posts by our media team and large social audiences tied to sites like TravelPulse, the initial reach on the ground will be in the hundreds of thousands of followers.”
A destination and/or host property sponsors the overall program and takes part in every aspect of the experience. Each Millennial Travel Forum includes exploration and engagement around the local destination and the key attributes, as marketed by the destination. In addition, the attendees are immersed in all physical and service aspects of the host property.
The Millennial Travel Forum will require agents in attendance to post a certain number of social media posts each day and night of the event. These will not be simple selfies either. Millennial advisors will instead be encouraged to engage all of their followers and create conversations around the destination and participating suppliers.
“The extensive editorial coverage starts before the forum, occurs while the forum is in process and extends for months beyond,” said Murphy. “In addition to what I’ve already mentioned, our video production company will be capturing video capsules of these savvy agents as they provide their firsthand insights on the fly. The result? Priceless insights that can be utilized by thousands of other agents to enhance their sales, while reaching hundreds of thousands of travelers too.”
Joe Pike, the latest addition to the travAlliancemedia editorial team, will spearhead this new program to bring suppliers and destinations better insights and reach into the Millennial mind of travel.
“When we were first coming up with these forums, Barbados was always on the short list of places I wanted to see the program debut in,” said Pike. “We will only be conducting these forums in destinations that have what Millennials are looking for – experiential travel, nightlife, luxury hotels, and one-of-kind experiences. Barbados certainly fits that description.”
Barbados will be the first destination to host the forum, while the first host hotel company for the forum will be Elegant Hotels.
“I’m thrilled to be participating in the inaugural Millennial Travel Forum, as it brings a long-overdue new concept to our industry,” said Marisa Costa, founder of AMIKO and an advisor for Protravel International. “I’ve long held the belief that travel advisors are the real influencers. Although our followings may be small compared with Instagram celebrities, our followers are dedicated and engaged, and trust our opinions.”
Four of Elegant Hotels’ properties will be featured during the forum. Advisors will be staying at The House by Elegant Hotels, Treasure Beach by Elegant Hotels, and the Waves Hotel & Spa by Elegant Hotels. The Tamarind by Elegant Hotels will be the site of the forum’s main event, a filmed roundtable discussion to run live on Facebook.
“Since I specialize in tropical destinations, selling honeymoons and destination weddings, this is a very purposeful and relevant trip for me,” said Jennifer Carr, an advisor with The Tropical Travelers in Malvern, Pennsylvania. “I am thrilled that the Elegant Hotels brand is one of the sponsors because their hotels in Barbados have a great appeal to my clients.”
Among the markets that will be represented by the attending advisors are Miami and Charlotte, which are both expecting new direct American Airlines flights to Barbados soon; Oklahoma, Utah, New York City, Chicago and others.
“Millennials are the new disruptors of the travel industry and the generation driving the biggest growth currently,” said Roach. “Their emphasis is on unique, culturally rich experiences, of which Barbados has many.”
Live Roundtable Discussion
As mentioned, the forum’s main event, a filmed roundtable discussion to run live on Facebook, will be held at The Tamarind by Elegant Hotels at 10 a.m. on Saturday, December 15.
Dubbed, “Breakfast with Barbados,” the discussion will focus on selling the island from the perspectives of 15 Millennial travel experts.
“This travel forum experience brings together some of the best in the business to showcase the impact we can make for a hotel partner or destination by not only exposure through clicks, views, and likes, but actual bookings from the clients that they have and market to,” said Stephen Scott, an advisor with Travel Hub 365 in Chicago and Protravel International.