PHOENIX, ARIZ. – AAA Travel, one of the largest leisure travel agencies in North America, hosted its annual conference Oct. 21-23 in Phoenix, Arizona. With a theme of “Futurescape: Convergence + Relevance,” the event focused on the forces shaping the future of the travel industry, from technological advancements to evolving consumer expectations. The conference featured world-renowned speakers from across the travel industry, including Pete Rose, executive vice president, Kantar Consulting; Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line; Wayne Best, Visa’s chief economist; and futurist Chris Riddell, an expert on emerging trends in the connected world.
“We are seeing a convergence of concepts that impact our business, like an expansion of travel planning resources and channels; increasing ease of access for members, which is not limited to technology; and the transformative nature of travel experiences,” said Bill Sutherland, senior vice president, AAA Travel in his conference keynote speech. “AAA members trust us to understand and handle all of the diverse inputs that are at play in vacation planning, including providing expertise on destinations, finding the best value, recommending quality accommodations, and delivering ‘braggable’ experiences.”
During the conference, AAA also presented leading travel industry suppliers with prestigious Partner of the Year awards in 14 categories. These highly coveted awards recognize the partners’ commitment to providing AAA travel agents and members with exemplary travel services in their respective product categories, and for marketing, member service and travel agency support. Additionally, two of AAA’s top-performing agents, Kelly Brock and Henry Dennis of AAA Carolinas, were honored with Travel Agent Superlative Awards.
“We are proud to present AAA Travel’s Partner of the Year Awards to some of the top companies in the travel industry. Our members benefit from these strong partnerships and our shared commitment to providing world-class service and amazing vacation experiences,” said Sutherland. “We are also honored to recognize our two top travel agents with 2018 Superlative Awards, based not only on remarkable sales levels, but more importantly, their commitment to personalized vacation planning on behalf of our members.”
2018 Partner of the Year Awards
- Ocean Cruise Partner of the Year: Princess Cruises
- River Cruise Partner of the Year: AmaWaterways
- Guided Tour Partner of the Year: Member Choice Vacations
- Independent Tour Partner of the Year: Rocky Mountaineer
- Lodging Partner of the Year: Best Western Hotels & Resorts
Best in Marketing:
- Cruise: AmaWaterways
- Tour: Rocky Mountaineer
- Lodging: Best Western Hotels & Resorts
Best in Member Service:
- Cruise: Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection
- Tour: Insight Vacations
- Lodging: Best Western Hotels & Resorts
Best in Travel Agency Support:
- Cruise: Celebrity Cruises
- Tour: Alexander+Roberts
- Lodging: Marriott International
2018 Travel Agent Superlative Awards
Kelly Brock, AAA Carolinas
Highest Sales, Highest Revenue and Highest Preferred Cruise Sales
Kelly Brock is a 30-year veteran of the travel industry, having served the last 18 years at AAA Carolinas in Bluffton, South Carolina. This is her fifth time being honored as a Superlative Award winner. Her extensive travel experience has taken her to exotic destinations around the world, as well as many European countries, Caribbean islands, and all throughout the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Her passion lies in adventure travel, river cruising and luxury travel.
Henry Dennis, AAA Carolinas
Highest Preferred Tour Sales
Henry Dennis, also a five-time Superlative Award winner, has more than 30 years’ experience in the travel industry. He has also been named by Travel Agent Magazine as a “Top 25 All Star” twice in the past three years. He is a Certified Travel Counselor and Accredited Cruise Counselor. He also holds multiple Destination Specialist and Lifestyle Specialist accreditations, as well as numerous supplier and destination certifications. Dennis is based in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he has served AAA Carolinas’ members for more than 22 years.
The Partner of the Year Award selection process included surveys and evaluations from the association’s club travel agency executives. Superlative Awards are based on agents’ leisure travel productivity and leisure group sales from July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018. Thousands of agents were eligible for the awards, and AAA clubs nominated their top achievers.