Alaska, we miss you already. We couldn’t have asked for a better location for our 2023 Travel Agency Owners Forum. From the pristine mountain glaciers to the native grounds rich with history – Alaska you have our hearts.
The TravelSMG team arrived prior to the event at The Hotel Captain Cook, not only to prepare for the event itself but to take some time and gather as a team to enjoy Alaska. Our team spans from the east coast to the gulf coast to the west coast, and it is always great to see each other in person again.
Our first night we met with the incredible team at Visit Anchorage for dinner and drinks at Ginger. It was here that we were first acquainted with Alaska’s famous Duck Fart shots … and it wouldn’t be our last encounter with this shot!
But our first full day was something we won’t ever forget. We met up with Dawn Campbell of Alaska Helicopter Tours. We made the drive out to Alaska Glacier Lodge for a tour of the beautiful grounds and cabins before our team took off on a helicopter tour of Alaska. We couldn’t have asked for a better day as a team.
The next morning we made our way out to the Alyeska Resort to take a ride to the top of Mt Alyeska. With an elevation of 2300 ft., the views were incredible. We then headed off to Spoonline Bistro for an amazing lunch … where we were also treated to a viewing of the Dachshund Parade route in celebration of Oktoberfest!
It was then time to rest up as our official work for the event would be starting the next day.
Sunday we met with the Captain Cook Hotel team to ensure all of our meeting spaces were set up as we needed them. We then worked through a lot of the signage and table setups. Definitely the least glamorous part of our jobs but an important part of what we do nonetheless.
Monday was officially Day 1 of the event! Registration opened at noon and it was nonstop from then on out. Between interacting with Agency Owners and Suppliers, the day was quickly behind us and it was time for the Welcome Mixer.
A big shout out to Visit Anchorage for setting up this Welcome Reception. They had some fun games for us to play to get the conversations going. And, the Quarter Deck at The Captain Cook Hotel gave us some breathtaking sunset views.
Day 2! The official welcome session and breakfast kicked off the full day. We had great presentations by David Kasser from Visit Anchorage, Tracey Zadra from Alaska Railroad and Lynne Jablonski from MyAlaskaGuide App.
After the breakfast all of the Agency Owners split up into their 3 main groups for their Peer-to-Peer Discussions. Renee Dunkin led “The Trailblazers”, Corina Johnson led “The Fearless Leaders” and Christopher Lingren led “The Adventure Seekers”. These groups discussed a variety of topics but especially topics relevant to agency owners specifically. We know some incredible friendships were forged in these sessions!
We took a small break for Lunch and enjoyed a presentation by New Pacific Airlines. Then it was time for our first session of one-to-one meetings. These are an incredibly important function at our events – it gives an opportunity for both our Advisors and our Supplier Partners to meet “one-to-one” and ask the questions that matter.
Before we knew it, it was time to head back to our hotel rooms and get ready for a wonderful evening aboard the Alaska Railroad. Once we left the train station we were delighted by golden hour hues and sunset glows from the glass-domed tops of some of the trains. You might have even found a few of us at the back end of the train – the karaoke car!
Day 3! During breakfast we listened to a panel discussion of “The Future of Alaska Tourism”. The panel was led by David Kasser of Visit Anchorage and we were treated to thoughts and insights from Alaska By Design, Greatland Adventures and Salmonberry Tours. After breakfast wrapped, there were more one-to-one meetings in the main ballroom. We took another break for lunch while listening to some of the findings from the Peer-to-Peer discussions from the day prior. Then back to finish out all of the one-to-one meetings.
Our last evening event found us all aboard a trolley thanks to Anchorage Trolley Tours. These local tour guides gave us all the inside scoop on local landmarks and favorite places on our way to the Alaska Native Heritage Center. Here we explored the traditional and contemporary ways of Alaska’s Indigenous cultures. This center offers one-of-a-kind village sites that have you strolling through 3 authentic and life-sized Native dwellings situated around Lake Tiulana. The area was just beautiful. Inside we heard some more awe-inspiring stories of Alaska and were treated to some beautiful native music.
Everyone needed to rest up that evening for our last official day in Alaska. We all boarded a bus to Whittier where we’d be setting sail aboard the 26 Glacier Cruise thanks to Phillips Cruises and Tours. Whittier is located at the head of the Passage Canal about an hour outside Anchorage. Timing of your drive is important if you’re heading out to Whittier – you’ll need to make sure you know the schedule of the tunnel. This 2.5-mile tunnel is the longest combined vehicle-railroad tunnel in North America.
After we made our way into Whittier we boarded the Cruise. There was always something beautiful to see. We saw otters, seals, whales, bears, and plenty of birds as well. As the name implies, you’ll see 26 glaciers on your journey and each one is more unique than the next. We were lucky enough to see some truly extraordinary calving of a couple of the glaciers. Calving is when massive chunks of ice naturally break off the glacier and fall into the waters below.
Between trips outside to take in the views we were treated to a hot meal and more conversations with our friends and colleagues. This cruise was a great way to wrap up a truly successful Travel Agency Owners Forum event.
At the end of the day we all parted ways – some straight to the airport, some back to the hotel for one more night. And some lucky Advisors continued on their Alaska experience with a Post Event FAM. Thanks to everyone who participated in and helped out during this event. We couldn’t have done it without you! (And if you’re interested in a video recap, you can watch that here!)
If you’re Travel Supplier and want to know more about our unique portfolio of events please don’t hesitate to contact us through our website: www.travelsmg.com . There you’ll find a listing of each of our events and the various packages we offer.
If you’re a Travel Advisor and want to apply for our next event take a look at our website and find the event that works best for your specific travel focus or niche. We offer an event for every agent. And, we’d love to see you at our flagship event – the Las Vegas Travel Agent Forum. This is our largest event and is open to all Travel Advisors. Grab your colleagues and let’s head to Las Vegas!