Avoya Travel Wins Gold at 2019 Travvy Awards

Avoya Travel Mastermind Academy onboard MSC Seaside

Avoya Travel took home two gold Travvy statues at travAlliancemedia’s annual awards ceremony, which took place on January 23, 2019, at Gotham Hall in New York City.

The host agency took home honors for Best Host Agency as well as Best Host Agency Website, AvoyaTravel.com, during the fifth annual Travvy Awards.

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Once again, Avoya led the way in the host agency category, taking home top honors for the 5th year in a row. Nexion took second, with silver awards in both categories and Ciao Bambino was also nominated in each.

Avoya had another banner year in 2018, and the host agency expects a winning 2019 for its agents, who predict they will top last year’s sales during this year’s Wave selling season which is ongoing through March, and this can be attributed to its ongoing focus on agent training and education.

“With the help of Avoya’s Mastermind Program, I have better focus and the ability to handle more business during Wave and all of 2019,” said RaShonda Gibson of Abundant Journeys, LLC.

Avoya also saw triple-digit growth and early success with its New-to-Travel Agents last year, and the host agency hosted its first Avoya Travel Institute, a new educational opportunity that educated advisors on relationship building with top partners in 2018.

The host agency was also recently recognized as Norwegian Cruise Line’s 2018 Online Partner of the Year, which continues to show that the network is deserving of its numerous honors.

Travel Agents Believe 2019 Will Bring a Boom in Business

Traveler's desk with a working computer

It’s shaping up to be a banner year for the travel business. If you are a travel agent, presumably you are betting on your clients increased wealth and social media channels to inspire them to book more vacations this year.

Research from global marketing communications firm Strategic Vision shows that 44 percent of companies surveyed in their annual Pulse of the Industry Survey indicated that their clients are optimistic about international travel, and 54 percent are optimistic about domestic travel. This is a major jump from last year, during which just 19 percent of respondents were optimistic about international travel and 29 percent for domestic.

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In fact, this year, very few people are cautious about traveling internationally, just 16 percent.

For luxury travel firms that cater to these travel advisors, this means 2019 could be one for the record books.

“The luxury travel industry is poised for yet another banner year in 2019,” says Peter Bates, president and founder of Strategic Vision, which services the luxury travel and lifestyle industries. “Travel and tourism is already the world’s largest industry—contributing $8.3 trillion to the global economy—and it continues to grow. The combination of social media, affordable flights, greater wealth, and globalization have created a new Age of Exploration. Of course, I should add, as a cautionary note, that in today’s political and economic climate, conditions can change quickly and unpredictably.”

Clients’ financial standings are one of the main factors buoying the industry. More than half of those surveyed indicated that the continued strength of the economy has led to more disposable income. However, high consumer confidence is also boosted by an increased determination to see the world.

“Our clients are always going to travel,” says Lia Bakin, Co-Founder of In The Know Experiences. “Politics, weather, terrorism… it’s all a part of everyday life now. People want to live life and enjoy themselves.”

The idea that clients are determined to travel is good news for destinations around the world but especially those that have been affected by recent tourism challenges, putting them on track to see major comebacks.

There was a significant drop in travel to the Caribbean last year as the region recovered from multiple hurricanes but the future looks brighter. Survey results show that 68 percent of respondents said that clients have planned or are planning a trip. Just 22 percent of those surveyed said that their clients were waiting for specific islands or resorts to recover.

Concerns about Zika have also subsided. Only only 2 percent of respondents said that the virus kept clients from booking Caribbean vacations. In last year’s survey, that number reached 10 percent.

In terms of what trips travelers are looking for in 2019, experiential travel ranks high among clients as does cruising.

When it comes to where travelers want to go, Italy remains at the top of the heap, even when other emerging destinations gain steam.

Panoramic view of Amalfi and harbor, Italy, Europe

“Italy remains untouchable,” says Kimberly Wilson Wetty, Co-Owner & Co-President of Valerie Wilson Travel. “Whether a first trip or your 20th, everyone always wants Italy. There is comfort in the consistency of what Italy offers from the great food and wine to amazing hotels and sightseeing, as well as the romance of the Italian people and culture.”

Other trending destinations, which fall in line with other surveys, include Japan, which is hosting the 2020 Olympic Games. Namibia, Botswana, and gorilla- trekking regions like Rwanda are popular in Africa and Egypt is making a comeback. Ireland, like Italy, is a safe destination that traveler enjoy over and over again, and Southeast Asia remains popular for its value and is front-of-mind once again after the soaring popularity of the film “Crazy Rich Asians.”

Also still topping travelers’ bucket lists is Iceland.

“Runaway success shows with Iceland as a backdrop such as ‘Game of Thrones’ created a buzz and an awareness among travelers everywhere. Social media hummed with increased awareness and interest in Iceland and its culture,” says Bell de Souza, vice president and COO of Mansour Travel Company.

We're Entering a New Golden Age of Travel

Travel Leaders Group CEO Ninan Chacko

The travel industry is experiencing a renaissance of the Golden Age of Travel, according to Ninan Chacko, CEO of Travel Leaders Group. And that’s occurring in concert with the resurgence of the professional travel advisor.

Chacko made his comments Wednesday at the Travel Leaders Group 2019 Industry Outlook at the company’s new global headquarters on Broadway in New York City.

Most people think of the Golden Age of Travel as back when planes and trains were more luxurious, featured attentive personal service and people dressed up to take a trip.

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Now, however, “the world has shrunk” as airlines are offering nonstop service around the world at affordable prices and upscale expedition ships are taking people to exotic destinations, he said. “Prices are super competitive compared to where we were 10, 20 or 30 years ago.”

At the same time, Chacko said, consumers have more choices than ever and are searching for more unique adventures, so they’re increasingly seeking expert advice from professional travel advisors—“someone who understands the vast array of travel choices but also understands their customers.”

He noted that Phocuswright years ago predicted the extinction of travel agents, but now notes that they’re “thriving alongside OTAs and supplier-direct channels.”

Even millennials are turning to travel agents, according to the MMGY “Portrait of the American Traveler” study, which might not be what you expect from the generation that grew up with the internet. “But they’re seeking experiences none of their friends or parents have had,” Chacko said.

He said travel agents could help craft “hyper-intensive itineraries” with the help of tourism boards to meet the desires of their customers.

Trends continuing in 2019 include strong economic conditions, a positive GDP outlook, investment in every travel sector, the rise of the travel advisor and more “conscious travelers” seeking value-based, sustainable, meaningful travel, Chacko said. Challenges include safety and security, overtourism, cybersecurity and the actions of the federal government.

Travel Leaders Group includes 20 brands, 4,200 global employees, 6,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors who together produce a total sales volume exceeding $20 billion.

Where Your State Wants to Travel the Most

Map of the United States, most mentioned travel destinations

It’s no secret that Americans want to travel the world in 2019. But where does your state want to go in the New Year?

The folks over at DaringPlanet.com recently analyzed geotagged tweets including hashtag #vacation, #travel and similar terms (more than 200,000 tweets) over the last month to determine each state’s most mentioned travel destination. Keep in mind that any place from within its own state was omitted to avoid false positives such as people visiting New York City tweeting about being there.

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The results suggest that Americans’ most preferred vacation destination is actually located within the U.S. as Hawaii was the top destination for more than one-third of the 49 eligible states.

Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming all pointed to the 50th U.S. state as their ideal 2019 getaway.

Meanwhile, 10 percent of the country wants to vacation in Italy, with Maine, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Washington dreaming of the European hotspot more than any other place. Florida wasn’t far behind Italy, conquering the hearts and minds of four states across the country, including Illinois, Iowa, Mississippi and Rhode Island.

In addition to Hawaii and Florida, California (Ohio), New York (Florida and Nevada) and Tennessee (Alabama) have captured Americans imaginations this year. The latter is arguably the most head-scratching as Tennessee and Alabama literally share a border.

At least three states—Kansas, Montana and Oregon—mentioned Thailand more than any other place when referring to vacation travel.

It should come as no surprise though that residents of frigid Minnesota are eyeing the Bahamas this year while it’s only fitting (and funny) that the cannabis-friendly state of Colorado is drawn to the birthplace of Rastafarianism, Jamaica. Nonetheless, the Caribbean destination has a ton to offer American visitors looking to escape the cold, including amazing beaches and natural attractions, phenomenal cuisine and a whole lot more.

Map of the United States, most mentioned travel destinations

Other destinations stealing U.S. states’ hearts in 2019 include Costa Rica (Idaho), France (Michigan), Greece (New York), Iceland (Vermont and Utah) Mexico (California), Scotland (Arkansas), Spain (South Carolina) and Sweden (Alaska).

While 18 states have Hawaii on the brain in 2019, the Aloha State is most interested in something much more specific in Yellowstone National Park, which is the nation’s first national park and one that should be on every travelers’ radar this year.

South Dakota has its sights set on the Grand Canyon in the New Year while Louisiana and Missouri covet Walt Disney World more than any other travel destination.

So, where will you go in 2019?