December was Luxury Travel Advisor’s biggest month of the year. In Las Vegas, the largest contingent of luxury travel advisors in the world gathered for Luxury Travel Expo at MGM Grand Conference Center and the Las Vegas Convention Center. There, we announced the winners of Luxury Travel Advisor’s Awards of Excellence. It was a great evening to celebrate the winners chosen by you, the readers. We salute all the nominees and winners and look forward to seeing everyone who attended again next year at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino.
As much fun as we had, Luxury Travel Expo gave us the opportunity to raise money for a scholarship Luxury Travel Advisor has started that encourages the youth of our country to enter into your great profession. Our feeling is that not enough is being done to cultivate young talent and pump in new blood into the work force. So, we stepped up and took it upon ourselves to make something happen.
Here’s how it works: Luxury Travel Advisor seeds the intern scholarship with $10,000. Your agency can then apply to us to pay $1,000 for a six-week summer intern. In return, you agree to mentor the selected person and provide in-office training as a luxury travel advisor. The intern will be required to report on his or her experiences to us every three weeks. All we ask: Please, no answering phones or opening mail.
To date, we have already had donations of $1000 from American Express, MGM Mirage and Starwood Hotels & Resorts. These suppliers will be official sponsors of their own intern, who will be working in one of your agencies, through the Luxury Travel Advisor Intern Scholarship Program. We will also share the progress and experiences of the interns in the pages of Luxury Travel Advisor and on our website, www.luxuryta.com.
Pictured above with me is Chris Austin, vice president of global customer partnerships for leisure and luxury sales, Starwood Hotels & Resorts. He also sits on the board of directors of Tourism Cares, the organization that will receive and administer the funds to get this promising program off the ground.