AMG’s Recent Biennial Conference… Themed “The Way Forward”

By Cindy Bertram


At their recent biennial conference held at the Boca Raton Resort and Club in Boca Raton, Florida, the American Marketing Group Inc. (AMG) offered travel agents a wide array of training, events, presentations and panels as well as celebrating successes.  Themed “The Way Forward,” AMG also provided the latest updates on the services, products and programs they provide, so agents could put these into use each day with their businesses. Throughout this energizing conference, travel agents also had a chance to network, get to know each other, and interact with suppliers and leaders.

Celebrating 48 years in business and founded by industry icon Rick Mazza, 18 brands make up American Marketing Group, Inc., which is the parent company. NEST, their home-based marketing group, and TRAVELSAVERS are the largest, and include more than 2,500 independent agencies located in 35 countries, generating $22 billion in annual sales. A few of their other travel brands include The Affluent Traveler Collection, Travel Helpline, an emergency travel assistance program, and Forte Business Travel Solutions.

Emphasizing “The Way Forward” theme, Kathryn Mazza-Burney, President of NEST, and Executive Vice President of Sales and Service for TRAVELSAVERS, said, “We can’t emphasize how important training is to the health and future of our industry.” Nicole Mazza, Chief Marketing Officer for TRAVELSAVERS provided more, and added, “We want our affiliates leaving here with information on our products, programs and services that they can truly deliver on, and put into use in their everyday businesses.”

First Day of the Global Conference – June 7

As the conference kicked off on June 7 at 12 noon, 30 minute workshops were presented by different suppliers that included cruise lines and river cruise lines, vacation companies, along with other travel companies that are part of the AMG Inc. family. These ranged from updates on the different destinations, what’s new, how to grow a database, and special features. Specialized training on TravelTix/GDS hosting, OnlineXpress, TripXpress, and DataBase management were a few other parts of the 30 minute training segments. A Welcome Reception that evening was hosted by the Boca Raton Resort and Club, where the conference was also taking place. It was a fun evening segment travel agents, suppliers, and staff from the American Marketing Group, Inc. enjoyed.

More panels, speakers and General Session on June 8

Nicole Mazza, Chief Marketing Officer of TRAVELSAVERS opened the second day of the conference June 8, which began with breakfast and the General session. Jon Petz, founder of Bore No More provided an energizing keynote speech, incorporating his comedy magician background with being a corporate executive, event emcee, social experimenter and book author. 

A special panel featured cruise line executives from Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, MSC Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line and Regent Seven Seas. Included were Dondra Ritzenthaler, Senior Vice President of Sales, Trade Support & Service, N. America, UK & APAC, Celebrity Cruises; Lori Sheller, Senior Vice President of Strategic Sales & Groups, MSC Cruises USA; Camille Olivere, Senior Vice President of Sales, Norwegian Cruise Line; Adolfo Perez, Senior Vice President, Sales & Trade Marketing, Carnival Cruise Line; Vicki Freed, Senior Vice President Sales and Trade Support & Service, Royal Caribbean International and Jason Montague, President, Regent Seven Seas Cruises.  They all shared more of their own insights on “new to cruise,” going after groups,  providing lifetime value, addressing the “consumer confusion,” as well as making sure you “surprise and delight” clients. 

Ron Cates, known as the “Digital Marketing Icon” (he served as Constant Contact’s email and social media marketing expert) guided the presentations and speakers throughout the days of the conference.

After lunch, the Global Trade Show took place in the afternoon, where travel agents had the opportunity to visit and have more one-to-one discussions with the diverse suppliers. And that evening everyone had the chance to enjoy the “A Night in Havana” party sponsored by Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Delta Airlines, Delta Vacations and Collette.

Another full energizing day and evening on June 9 

On June 9, following breakfast, another General session took place. After opening remarks, the Tour Leader Panel took place, hosted by Anne Marie Moebes, Publisher of Travel Market Report.  Focusing on “Trends in Land Vacations,” the panel included Jennie Ho, President of Delta Vacations, Scott Wiseman, President, Travel Impressions, Melissa da Silva, President, Trafalgar, and Scott Nisbet, President  & CEO, Globus Family of Brands.  After lunch, more specialized training and workshops took place with diverse topics to choose from. 

Spaced out throughout the conference were other short presentations done by different cruise line executives, as well as travel industry leaders. Melissa Da Silva, President of Trafalgar, provided great insights and information in her special presentation, “Drive Growth through Paid Media,” which took place June 9.

 “The Great Gatsby Gala Event,” sponsored by Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises and Travel Impressions took place that evening.  Dinner, entertainment and the special awards were all part of the fun and ambience. 

Another part of the American Marketing Group’s conference was the Autism Walk, done to provide awareness of autism and raise funds. In addition to the Autism Walk, there was a silent auction, and through these efforts, more than $75,000 was raised, which was donated directly to Autism Speaks.

Launch of the new TRAVELSAVERS & NEST University and Lead Dash Tool

During the conference, American Marketing Group, Inc. (AMG) also made some exciting announcements. One was the launch of their new TRAVELSAVERS & NEST University, which is a first-of-its-kind addition to the company. With their new University program, set to launch in fourth quarter 2018, all of the training programs offered by AMG Inc.’s preferred suppliers, niche market training, AMG Certifications, personal development sessions, business building sessions and one-on-one coaching will be under one place. Another was the unveiling of AMG’s Lead Dash Tool.  It’s a tool that has been specifically designed to help AMG’s agents cash in on missed opportunities to work with their clients who have unused tour and cruise credits. Nicola Mazza, Chief Marketing Officer for TRAVELSAVERS, said, “We provide unique tools in the marketplace, we listen to what our agents want, and we then build programs about their needs.”

More on the 2020 Biennial Conference

AMC, Inc. is already doing groundwork on their next biennial conference which they will be holding in 2020.  It takes a good year and half to plan and organize.  Nicole Mazza, Chief Marketing Officer for TRAVELSAVERS, mentioned this will also be a huge celebration as AMC, Inc. celebrates their 50th anniversary.