To Hold Land and Sea Conference in Florida in 2016, Alaska in 2017
December 30, 2015, Alexandria, VA —The association representing independent advisors—the SBN—is on a growth trajectory as it prepares to celebrate its 30th Anniversary in 2016.
"Our growth is nothing short of phenomenal," said SBN President Ann Chamberlin (formerly Ann van Leeuwen). "SBN represents some of the hardest-working travel consultants in the business. We added eight new chapters in 2015 for a total of 52, we had a sold out conference in Kona, Hawaii, and we have new technology in place to promote our travel specialists with consumers. But, we could not do any of this without our dedicated, volunteer chapter and regional directors."
Among its priorities for the year is continued educational opportunities. SBN's annual conference is the main venue for learning among SBN members. In 2016, SBN will head to Fort Lauderdale Nov. 3-9 for a conference split between the Westin Fort Lauderdale Hotel and Celebrity's Infinity sailing to The Bahamas. "Establishing a Land & Sea conference with Starwood and Celebrity is a winning combination for us. Both companies proactively support independent travel consultants. Attending travel advisors can expect many extra surprises as we celebrate our 30-year history," said Chamberlin. Another record crowd is expected for the 2016 annual conference; the annual conference in Kona this year drew 427 paid attendees.
SBN today also is announcing that the destination chosen for its 2017 Annual Convention is Anchorage, Alaska. Conference attendees will have a variety of pre- and post-show tours to choose from. SBN is in the initial planning stages to offer a southbound Alaska cruise, a railcar experience through scenic terrain, and, weather permitting, spectacular viewing of the Aurora Borealis. "We are thrilled to continue to take SBN members to highly rated leisure destinations. Alaska is sure to be a popular conference venue because of all the amazing pre and post experiences we will add to the conference," said Chamberlin.
The hotel selected for the conference is the famous Captain Cook Hotel, which offers spectacular views of the Cook Inlet and the Chugach Mountains. It is the only luxury hotel in Anchorage. Learning about the destination and experiencing it for themselves will allow travel consultants to better promote and sell the Alaska experience to their client groups. "At the Kona conference, when we asked how many members would be interested in traveling to Anchorage, nearly every hand in the room went up. Needless to say, we are pleased to be able to offer this destination to our members in 2017," she said.
SBN has a robust educational program planned for travel consultant members in 2016. FAM opportunities are planned for Ireland, Croatia, Hawaii and Tahiti, as well as Seminars at Sea and River Cruise programs with a variety of supplier partners. In addition, SBN works closely with parent company ASTA in organizing in-depth FAM programs in diverse locations such as Seville, Spain and Maui, Hawaii.
In addition to educational opportunities for members, SBN wants to educate consumers on the value of using travel professionals. It has begun actively promoting FindaTravelConsultant.com to help consumers find SBN travel specialists. This is where consumers go to view profiles of SBN members and select one based on their credentials, education or travel and cruise expertise.
"We look forward to celebrating our 30th Anniversary in Fort Lauderdale and on Celebrity's Infinity with our 1,800 and counting members next fall. We're expecting great things for our industry in 2016," said Chamberlin.
ASTA Small Business Network (SBN) is the travel industry's leading national trade association representing independent contractors, outside sales consultants, cruise and tour oriented consultants, group oriented travel professionals and traditional ARC-appointed travel agencies that provide services and support to such professionals. Established in 1986, SBN's mission is to represent the interest of independent travel entrepreneurs and to promote professionalism and recognition for the professional independent consultant. SBN is an affiliate of ASTA, the American Society of Travel Advisors, the world's largest travel trade association