President, African Travel
Sherwin Banda has spent the 18 years working in international hospitality in the United Kingdom, South Africa, and the United States. Born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa, he is passionately devoted to all things Africa. As President of African Travel, Inc. he is committed to providing the ultimate African experience and service. Our goal is to uplift local communities and to protect wildlife conservation in Africa. He has successfully leveraged the company’s extensive infrastructure of top safari lodges, hotels, airlines and transportation providers in both Africa and North America to create extraordinary, authentic journeys tailored to each client’s travel style and budget.
Director of National Accounts, AmaWaterways
Morgane is the National Accounts Director for AmaWaterways, a luxury river cruise line, which she joined 10 years ago. She has an extensive background working in luxury travel especially in Paris, France, her home country
Host, Places to Love
Travel expert and television host Samantha Brown has been hosting TV travel programs for 18 years. During her time at Travel Channel she created 10 original international and domestic travel series generating over 170 hours of television. In 2017 Samantha moved from the Travel Channel to PBS and her new series Samantha Brown’s Places to Love will make its premiere in January, 2018. In Places to Love, Samantha will feature the destinations, experiences and most importantly the people that make us the traveler feel like we belong to a place. In Season 1, Samantha will feature 7 U.S. and 6 international destinations including Houston, Switzerland, Brooklyn, China, Orange County and Big Sur, CA.
Samantha is known for getting to the emotional heart of travel by focusing on the people, their culture, and the privilege of spending time in their everyday lives. Viewers passionately follow Samantha and her expert advice not only because of her experience and knowledge, but also because of her warmth, genuineness and love for travel.
Samantha grew up in New Hampshire and currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and 5 year old twins Ellis and Elizabeth.
Strategic Account Manager, Royal Caribbean
Join Katy Cannizzaro, Strategic Account Manager with Royal Caribbean, to find out more about the largest cruise ship in the world- Royal Caribbean’s newest ship Harmony of the Seas. Katy has over 20 years of experience in the travel industry both in hotels and in cruises. Her extensive travel expertise and her informative presentation on the most innovative ships at Sea will entice you to plan your next cruise vacation with Royal Caribbean.
President of Your Own Italy
Carmen Carbonell is founder and President of Your Own Italy. Carmen was born in the United States, where she obtained a degree in Architecture. Following college, she married an Italian and moved to Rome, where she raised 4 sons. She also developed a passionate love for Italy – its art, its architecture, its cities, its countryside, its culture and cuisines, and its people.
Now, after nearly 30 years living in Italy, Carmen wants to share her love for Italy with American travelers who want more than a standard tour…travelers who want to experience the real Italy, with the heart and soul of the nature and its people. She founded Your Own Italy as a boutique tour company that will provide private tours that take travelers deep into Italy’s heart and soul, with vacation packages that will be memorable for life, and shore excursions that will give tour ship guests a unique day in Rome, Florence, Venice, or the Amalfi Coast. –
The team works with boutique hotels, tested and proven restaurants, historic sites, museums, basilicas, plus individuals and tours that meet Your Own Italy’s standards – standards virtually guaranteed to ensure that Your Own Italy vacation or shore excursion will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience you will remember forever. And long to repeat with your new friends in Italy, Your Own Italy.
Director of Strategic Partnerships, AAA Member Choice Vacations
Kevin Carter has been with AAA Member Choice Vacations since 2003. In those 14 years, he has been a Product Manager, Business Development Manager, and Regional District Sales Manager before becoming the Director of Strategic Partnerships. These years of service, along with his Bachelor’s from the University of New Hampshire in Hotel and Leisure Travel Management, has allowed Kevin a unique perspective on the travel industry. What drives his passion for the industry? Making the world a smaller place through the magic of travel!
World Traveler, Travel Expert, Writer, AngelsTravelLounge.com
Angel Castellanos, (www.AngelsTravelLounge.com) is a passionate world traveler, travel writer, influencer and nationally recognized speaker dedicated to help people travel smart, well and often. He has over 15 years of experience in the travel industry as a tour guide, retailer, buyer, travel consultant and brand consultant. Traveling to over 55 countries on 5 continents (and counting), Angel travels 8-10 weeks internationally each year and draws on his experience and frequent travels to teach “Smart Travel” and equip travelers with the skills they need to make travel easy and enjoyable. He bridges the gap between the practical, common sense advice he’s learned by traveling the world and the new savvy tips and experiences that has helped his generation revolutionize travel. Angel has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Fox News, Univision, Frommers Radio, USA Today & Travel & Adventure Show as “America’s Newest Travel Expert”. Most recently, Angel completed an around-the-world trip by traveling over 9,000 km overland by train from Beijing to London.
President, Trafalgar, CostSaver & Brendan
Melissa DaSilva is President of Trafalgar, CostSaver and Brendan Vacations and has more than 25 years of experience in the travel industry in both the US and the UK. She is motivated by the impact travel has on people and is passionate about inspiring others to experience the Good Life through travel and the connectivity of those shared experiences of adventure, exploration, learning and laughter. Trafalgar guided vacations offer an effortless way to truly get under the skin of a destination while connecting with locals and fellow travelers, all while making memories to last a lifetime.
Travel Blogger, The Grubfather
Sal DiBenedetto, known as The Grubfather is a food, travel and style content creator, entrepreneur, writer, photographer, film maker and video host based in Long Island, NY. His mission is to conquer the world of food and travels globally to experience the different cultures and cuisines of every place he visits, documenting his journey across his social media accounts and blog The Grubfather at www.thegrubfather.world.
Key Accounts Manager, Rocky Mountaineer
Dawn has been in the travel industry for 30 years working in virtually all aspects of the industry from operations to sales. She began traveling internationally at a young age and while her love for other cultures and countries has literally taken Dawn all around the world, her passion lies in the Canadian Rockies. Dawn is thrilled to represent Rocky Mountaineer as she is able to provide our guests with a unique and luxurious rail experience seeing the one of the most beautiful destinations in the world, Western Canada.
Assistant Vice President, Travel Sales Development
Vicky Evans, a 35-year travel industry veteran, oversees sales for AAA – The Auto Club Group, servicing Members across 11 states. Originally from Great Britain, Vicky has traveled the world and works with some of the leading top travel industry experts.
Tourism Development, and Sales Manager
Tia Froehle – As a lifelong Alaskan, Tia Froehle knows her home like the back of her hand. Her love for the outdoors and adventure has allowed her to explore this amazing state of Alaska, from hiking in the Chugach Mountains, to fly fishing some of our amazing rivers. Tia has worked in sales and marketing in the Alaska tourism industry for over 18 years with companies such as Gray Line of Alaska/Holland America Line and The Hotel Alyeska, Alaska’s premier year-round Resort. She currently works for Visit Anchorage as part of the Tourism Development & Sales team for the past 4 years. Tia received her Bachelors of Science degree in Recreation Management with a minor in Tourism from the University of Idaho. Now she wants YOU to come explore Southcentral Alaska and check it off your bucket list!
Editorial Director of the Frommer’s Guides and Publisher of Frommers.com
Pauline Frommer is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host. The Travel Show, which she co-hosts with her father, travel legend Arthur Frommer, is now heard in every state in the nation except Alaska. She also pens an internationally syndicated newspaper column on travel for King Features. You may recognize her face as Pauline created weekly travel segments for CNN’s Headline News for 3 years. She’s also appeared on The Today Show, Good Morning America, The Early Show, The O’Reilly Factor, NPR’s Marketplace and Talk of the Nation, CNN, FOX, MSNBC and every local news station you can name. She was the founding editor of Frommers.com and edited MSNBC.com’s travel section for two years. Pauline is the proud mother of two well-traveled daughters and wife to physical therapist Mahlon proud mother of two well-traveled daughters and wife to physical therapist Mahlon Stewart.
Chief Operating Officer, Cruise Planners
Vicky Garcia, the co-owner and Chief Operating Officer of Cruise Planners, an American Express Travel Representative, is among the most respected woman in travel. Garcia is a master of travel, marketing, sales, and operations and has helped established Cruise Planners as a leader in all types of travel. Cruise Planners is the nation’s largest network of home-based travel agents who are all travel matchmakers to help travelers find the perfect vacation for them.
Business Development Manager, Pleasant Holidays
Judy has been in the travel industry for 27 years, 14 of them with Pleasant Holidays. While having traveled to many destinations, her favorite is Hawaii.
Business Development Manager, Princess Cruises
Travel industry veteran with over 40 years of experience working for hotels, tour operators and as a travel agent. Joined Princess Cruises in 1985 and proud to be part of its tremendous worldwide growth.
JoJo Molloy and Monte Davis
Alaska & the Yukon Experts
JoJo Molloy and Monte Davis have lived in Alaska for over 40 years, have been actively involved in the Alaska visitor Industry, and have traveled the state extensively. Their knowledge of Alaska and lifelong public speaking careers makes them uniquely qualified to present an informative and entertaining presentation on Holland America’s Alaska and the Yukon.
Executive Director, Brendan Vacations
Born in Dublin, Brian commenced his career in the Irish Tourism industry in 1964 as a manager in car hire. In 1970, Brian started his own very successful company, Brian Moore Tours out of Boston, specializing in coach tours and independent travel to Ireland and Scotland before retiring in 2000. His passion for his homeland never went away and in 2013, Brian joined the team at Brenda Vacations. As an Ireland and Scotland expert, he brings his vast knowledge, passion, and enthusiasm to people around the country as he helps them bring their Emerald Isle vacation plans to life. In 2015, Brian was inducted into The Order of Innisfallen, a high honor from the city of Killarny, in recognition of his over 50 years in promoting tourism to Ireland.
Onboard Host, Rocky Mountaineer
Carlo has worked for Rocky Mountaineer since 2011. As an Onboard Host with intimate knowledge of all routes he was instrumental in development of the company’s newest Coastal Passage route in both commentary and guest service excellence. Curious of the corporate structure outside of the train Carlo spent two and half years working for Rocky Mountaineers Inside Sales Team in both the Direct and Preferred Channels. Missing the face to face guest interaction Carlo recently returned to his passion working on the train and hopes to see you soon onboard!
Director of National Accounts, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises
An industry veteran with a career spanning over 30 years, John began as a ticket agent at Newark Airport. He joined Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection in 2005 and is currently Director National Accounts for the eastern US. He is responsible for the sales and marketing of several national accounts throughout the US, including AAA. Much of John’s career has been focused on small ship and river cruising and is committed to educating retail agents and consumers on the value, benefits, and the unique experiences that river cruise travel brings to the vacation investment.
Vice President of Sales and National Accounts
Michele Saegesser, Vice President of Sales and National Accounts for Viking Cruises, enters her 40th year in the travel industry. Michele has been a key leader at Viking Cruises for 15 years of that, as they have grown to become the world’s largest small ship cruise line. Her favorite part of her role is to introduce travelers to the cultural enrichment benefits of the Viking way.
Director, Travel Partnerships, Me to We
Aaron is Director of Travel Partnerships at ME to WE, the social enterprise arm of the renowned WE organization. Over the past 13 years he has been a member of various travel industry organizations where he has overseen sales operations in the leisure, corporate and adventure travel spaces. Aaron now spends his time doing the most meaningful work of his career – helping to create truly impactful, transformational, and culturally immersive experiences for ME to WE’s guests. An avid globetrotter who has stamped his passport in 40 different countries, Aaron believes that travel remains the single best tool we have to help build cultural bridges around the world.
Director of National Accounts, Insight Vacations
Richard Sims is the Director of National Accounts, East for Insight Vacations, and Luxury Gold. He loves sharing his travel experiences and knowledge to help vacationers travel to the destinations of their dreams. He has been in the travel industry for twenty-five years, beginning in the airline industry with the majority of his time spent in the cruise industry before joining Insight Vacations a few years ago. In his current role he is responsible for managing and developing business with key travel agencies in the eastern United States. An avid photographer who is passionate about traveling and discovering new countries to explore, he is looking forward to traveling to a new destination in 2018!.
Travel Writer, Host of Rick Steves Europe and Travel with Rick Steves
Rick Steves grew up in Edmonds, Washington and studied at the University of Washington where he received degrees in Business Administration and European History. But his real education came in Europe — since 1973 he’s spent 120 days a year in Europe. Spending one third of his adult life living out of a suitcase in Europe has shaped his thinking. Today he employs 80 people at his Europe Through the Back Door headquarters where he produces over 50 guidebooks on European travel, the most popular travel series in America on public television, a weekly hour-long national public radio show, and a weekly column syndicated by the Chicago Tribune. Rick Steves lives and works in his hometown of Edmonds, Washington. His office window overlooks his old junior high school.
CEO (Chief Experience Officer), PhotoEnrichment
Ralph Velasco is Founder and CEO (Chief Experience Officer) of PhotoEnrichment Adventures (PEA), as well as a travel photography instructor, author and international guide. As such he organizes and leads cultural tours, with a focus on photography, in destinations around the world, including to India, Cambodia, Vietnam, the Baltics, Spain, Romania, Bulgaria, Morocco, Iceland, Cuba, the Adriatic, Central Europe, Tuscany, Mexico and others.
Ralph is also the creator of the Tour Organizer Training free webinar and online course series where he teaches everyday people to make a living from travel. In this step-by-step program, he shows participants how to organize and lead their own special interest tours, around the world, or around the corner.
He’s the creator of the My Shot Lists for Travel app for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch® (available for free on iTunes) and two years in a row he was shortlisted in the prestigious Travel Photographer of the Year awards.
National Sales Director, Contiki
Ashley Woodring is the Director of Sales at Contiki Vacations. She is passionate about helping 18-35-year-old travel the world. She brings 10+ years of experience working and traveling with Contiki, having been a traveler prior to working for the brand. In her time with Contiki she has worked in reservations, operations, marketing, and sales. Including a year working in New Zealand, with the sales and marketing. She now leads the USA and Latin America sales team and manages all travel agency partnerships. She has traveled to over 50 countries and has Iceland at the top of her bucket list for 2018!