Travel Industry’s Brightest Young Leaders Discuss Their Role in Its Future


Travel Industry’s Brightest Young Leaders Discuss Their Role in Its Future

NEW YORK (Sept. 12, 2013) ─ Nearly 90 of the travel industry’s brightest travel professionals converged this week at the 2013 Young Leaders Conference (YLC) in Las Vegas, produced by Questex Hospitality + Travel as an exclusive forum to discuss the changing travel landscape and their unique role in its future.

The fourth-annual YLC, held Sept. 9 at The Venetian® Las Vegas in conjunction with Luxury Travel Exchange International  (LTX), drew under-40 travel professionals from across North America including agency owners, consultants, suppliers and industry partners for peer-to-peer networking, career development and information-sharing.

The conference has become a “must” for young advisors looking to hone their skills, said Joe Pike, senior editor of Travel Agent magazine and co-coordinator of YLC. “Our mission is to foster a community where young business leaders can learn from each other’s experiences, share unique industry insights and discuss topics pertinent to their careers in a fun and relaxed atmosphere.  

“Young leaders are driving a technology-fueled revolution in the travel industry, transforming how agents and suppliers conduct business and build lasting relationships that deliver results. We want to recognize this invaluable group and provide a forum for continued innovation and information exchange.”

In addition to dynamic education and non-stop networking, attendees participated in peer panel presentations, question-and-answer sessions, interactive roundtable discussions and the event’s popular Networking in a YLC Minute business-card exchange. The successful event closed on a high note with a cocktail reception at TAO Las Vegas, hosted by TAO Group.

Key topics of discussion, guided by a steering committee of the travel industry’s most successful young leaders, included proving young agents are just as valuable, if not more so, than more experienced agents; upselling and identifying the key elements to planning a vacation; selling outside a comfort zone; selling destinations they have never visited; using technology as an advantage and strength; crisis management; overcoming faults and mistakes to make clients learn the true value of an agent; gaining client loyalty; and the value of niche markets and specialization.

One of the most popular sessions was Travel Agent magazine’s “30 under 30” award presentation, which recognized the leadership of up-and-comers under the age of 30.

YLC speakers included Mallory Bankson, leisure travel consultant, Valerie Wilson Travel, Inc.; Isaac Cymrot, vice president, sales & industry relations, Travel Insured International; Daniela Harrison, travel consultant, Avenues of the World Travel; Ron Fenska, director of sales, G Adventures; Courtney Fitzgerald, brand public relations manager, Las Vegas Visitors and Convention Authority; Beth Jenkins, travel consultant, McCabe World Travel; Katie Ladomerszky, senior leisure sales manager, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas; Kier Matthews, vice president of travel industry sales, Europe Express; Carlos Melia, travel agent,; Ryan Mielke, manager, Regency Travel; DeAnne Petritz, director, leisure travel, CI Travel; Melissa Pugh, luxury travel consultant, JetSet World Travel, Inc.; Jim Smith, senior industry consultant, Special Needs at Sea; and Andrey Zakharenko, owner and founder, Russian Connections.

A key indicator of this year’s success was the sell-out of supplier positions, secured by AMResorts, Atelier Group, Barbados Tourism Authority, CIE Tours International, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Europe Express, G Adventures, Hermitage Bay, Insight Vacations, Insure America, Sceptre Tours, Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts, Special Needs Group, Tahiti Tourism North America, TAO Group Las Vegas, Travel Insured International, Tulalip Resort & Casino and

“I’ve had the privilege of witnessing YLC grow stronger year over year and become increasingly instrumental to the growth and development of our attendees’ personal and career success,” said Samantha Erickson, YLC co-coordinator. “We salute our presenters, the 2013 steering committee and the many sponsors who took the time to support and recognize this valuable group of leaders shaping tomorrow’s travel.”

Daniela Harrison, Steering Committee member and 2013 speaker, commented “as always this year’s YLC was the most inspiring event of the year! It was very emotional and exciting and the friendships formed will last a lifetime! It is so rewarding to see all of us young professionals sharing ideas and networking openly. We all celebrate each other’s successes and learn from each other’s mistakes. This conference is just getting better every year! If you are a young professional and you are not attending this event, you are missing out!”

Questex Hospitality + Travel also announced the launch of the Young Travel Leaders Alliance, an industry forum for education, organization and support for the young travel community. YTLA will provide content curated specifically towards the young travel advisor. For more information,

Presented by Luxury Travel Advisor and Travel Agent magazines, YLC is the first and only industrywide forum created exclusively for the under-40 travel professional. For more information and the complete program roster, visit the website or connect on Twitter,Facebook or LinkedIn

About Questex Hospitality + Travel

Questex Hospitality + Travel, the largest multimedia organization in the world dedicated to travel and lodging, drives revenue, productivity and value-creation for these related industries through strategic investment and deal-making forums, powerful lead-generation tools, interactive online business solutions, world-class events and industry-leading publications. 

The Questex Travel Group, a division of Questex Hospitality + Travel, serves travel marketers globally through its, and TravelAgentUniversity online portals. It operates the leading luxury travel booking site,, publishes Travel Agent and Luxury Travel Advisor magazines and produces leisure events: Luxury Travel Exchange International, ULTRA Luxury Exchange, Young Leaders Conference and Hawaii Travel Exchange and MICE events: Global Meeting & Incentive Travel Exchanges and CONFEC conferences.

Questex Hospitality + Travel also provides business development, marketing and training services to national tourism organizations/destination marketing associations, hotel, gaming, resort and cruise companies, online travel agencies and travel advisors worldwide.  Questex Hospitality + Travel is a division of Questex Media Group LLC, headquartered in Newton, Mass., with offices throughout the world.

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Samantha Erickson
Co-Conference Chair
(212) 895-8283