Reaching New Heights at Apple Leisure Group’s First Ascend Conference
Written by: Guest on October 04, 2019
By Michelle Bakula, Communications and PR Manager
On September 16-18, Apple Leisure Group celebrated its first-ever Ascend Conference at the Valley Forge Casino Resort in Pennsylvania. The conference opened with remarks from Apple Leisure Group’s Executive Vice President Jacki Marks. She compared the past year to that of the battle the main character faced in the classic movie Rocky.
Rocky’s grit, hard work, determination, and fight were all necessary traits for the travel industry to combat negative (and often inaccurate) media attention on the Dominican Republic this summer. The marriage of ALG’s new portfolio of brands–Apple Vacations, Travel Impressions, Funjet Vacations, Southwest Vacations, United Vacations, and Blue Sky Tours–also brought its own set of challenges. Despite these obstacles, Jacki reminded attendees that one year does not define a person or organization. Learning from unexpected situations can often be your best set-up for success.
The main attraction of the event was of course, the classes. Sessions ranged from a variety of topics including closing the sale, content marketing, travel trends, multi-generational travel, and digital security. There were also options for classes on each of Apple Leisure Group’s brands, popular destinations, and a travel agent’s best friend/booking tool–VAX VacationAccess.
When attendees weren’t building their brainpower, there were activities that allowed for networking and small group discussions. The first day included a private tour of Valley Forge National Park.
In the evening, attendees were treated to a cocktail fiesta sponsored by The Ministry of Tourism of Mexico, complete with a mariachi band. Followed by that were Supplier Dine Arounds that allowed agents to enjoy a meal and conversation with a specific supplier. Everyone left these dinners full of amazing food and a list of new connections.
A few other highlights that made this event unique:
- Custom swag – In addition to the branded materials given out at the supplier trade show, attendees also walked away with two t-shirts of their choice printed right before their eyes.
- A focus on wellness – It’s clear that Apple Leisure Group knows how busy travel agents can be. The massage tables at check-in, optional morning yoga, and classes devoted to health gave attendees a necessary mind and body reset.
- Stand-out keynote speaker – What if…that’s the question Mike Rayburn posed to the crowd in his keynote. His mix of comedy and music entertained and had everyone thinking how they could take advantage of missed opportunities.
- Inspiration from the top – Throughout the conference, attendees heard from Apple Leisure Group’s top Executives: Alejandro Zozaya (Executive Chairman), Alejandro Reynal (CEO), and Lynn Torrent (Executive Vice President and President, Vacations). They shared personal stories and spoke of the many ways traveling promotes tolerance across cultures and destinations.
Starting anything new comes with its fair share of challenges. Any travel agent who has started their own business knows this to be true. But it’s the way you bounce back from adversity that matters most. While Apple Leisure Group was faced with challenging year, they proved at Ascend that the outlook for 2020 is very bright, thanks to the thousands of dedicated travel agents on their side.
You can attend events like Apple Leisure Group’s Ascend Conference as an independent travel agent with KHM Travel Group. Learn more about our host agency by filling out the form to the right or giving us a call at 1-888-611-1220.