Speakers

Samantha Brown

Host, PBS’s Samantha Brown’s Places to Love

Travel expert and television host Samantha Brown has been hosting TV travel programs for 20 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 Season 1 of her new series Samantha Brown’s Places to Love premiered in January, 2018. In Places to Love, Samantha features the destinations, experiences and most importantly the people that make us the traveler feel like we belong to a place. Season 3 will begin airing on PBS in January 2020 and features destinations like Florida Keys, New Zealand, Miami, Budapest, Dallas and Vienna.
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 7 year old twins Ellis and Elizabeth.

Angel Castellanos

World Travel Expert, Writer/TV Host AngelsTravelLounge.com

Angel Castellanos, (www.AngelsTravelLounge.com) is a passionate world traveler, travel writer, influencer, multi-media personality and nationally recognized speaker dedicated to helping people travel smart, well and often. Traveling to over 85 countries on 5 continents (and counting), Angel travels 12-14 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 have 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”.
Since you’ve last seen Angel, he has visited The Philippines, Colombia, Honduras, Singapore, Laos, UK, France, Ireland, Italy, Bosnia, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt.
His favorite travel memories include camel trekking in the Sahara, traveling overland by train from Beijing to London, Horse trekking in Mongolia, Hot Air Ballooning in Laos and sailing down the Nile River.
When not in Italy or Paris, Angel is home in Pasadena, California where he is a proud volunteer with the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association.

Spiff Chambers

Tourism Sales Manager, Alaska Land and Sea Adventures, Visit Anchorage

Originally from the Midwest, Spiff just celebrated his 20th anniversary as an Alaskan! He followed a girl the 49th State for a summer job in 2001, and never left. He enjoys fishing, camping, and attending Alaskan music festivals. With a passion for the region, and over 15 years of experience working in the Alaskan tourism industry, Spiff knows what it takes to book a memorable Alaskan vacation!

Julian Douglas

Travel Writer, Photographer  and Experience Curator, Listen, Journey, Savor

“Listen, Journey, Savor with Julian Douglas”… is exactly what he asks of his family, friends and especially his readers to do with him.
As an experienced traveler, Julian has traversed the globe since he was a child. From treasured moments with his flight attendant mother growing up, to his years in the music industry, to just vacationing with his wife Nicole for pleasure. It has all inspired Julian to write about his passions for music, food and especially his love of travel.

Peter Greenberg

Emmy Award-Winning Investigative Reporter and Producer and CBS News Travel Editor

A multiple Emmy-winning investigative reporter and producer, Peter Greenberg is America’s most recognized, honored and respected front-line travel news journalist. Known in the travel industry as “The Travel Detective,” he is the Travel Editor for CBS News, appearing on CBS This Morning, CBS Evening News and CBS Sunday Morning. And his national CBS EYE ON TRAVEL radio show is broadcast from a different location around the world each week.
The consummate insider on reporting the travel business as news, Peter Greenberg also hosts the weekly public television show The Travel Detective with Peter Greenberg. And, for more than 20 years, Greenberg has produced and hosted The Royal Tour, historic, precedent-setting shows, where sitting heads of state become Greenberg’s tour guide for very personal journeys to and through their countries, for one hour global prime time specials. The Royal Tours range from King Abdullah in Jordan to the Prime Minister of New Zealand, the President of Mexico, the Prime Minister of Israel, the President of Rwanda and many others.
Travel Weekly named Peter Greenberg one of the most influential people in travel, along with Bill Marriott and Sir Richard Branson. He was inducted into the U.S. Travel Association’s Hall of Leaders for his contributions to the travel industry. Among his other honors, Peter Greenberg received a News & Documentary Emmy Award as part of the NBC News Dateline team for outstanding coverage of a breaking news story, “Miracle on the Hudson.”
Peter Greenberg began his career in journalism as West Coast correspondent for Newsweek in Los Angeles and San Francisco. He won a national Emmy Award for Best Investigative Reporting for the ABC 20/20 special on the final orphan flight out of Vietnam, “What Happened to the Children?” He also is the recipient of the Distinguished Service Award in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin, and an Excellence in Broadcasting Award from the Aviation Space Writers Association of America.
And when he is not reporting all over the world, Greenberg is an active volunteer fireman in New York.

Michelle Hernandez

Destination Marketing Manager, City of Cedar Hill

Michelle Hernandez is the Destination Marketing Manager for the City of Cedar Hill. Born and raised in Dallas, TX, Michelle started her love for marketing while attending the University of Texas at Austin. While being an active member in one of the university organizations, she learned how to market herself for future employment that played a part in her future love for marketing. After graduation, she worked in corporate positions and then took over the marketing for her family-owned business.
After working for the family business for over 19 years, she decided to take on a new challenge and accepted a position with the City of Cedar Hill as the Customer & Visitor Experience Coordinator. In this position, she found her new calling in the tourism industry. After just under a year in the coordinator position, she was promoted to Destination Marketing Manager and found a great appreciation for tourism.
Since starting with the city, she has earned the Certified Digital Marketing Professional designation and is currently working on her Texas Destination Marketer and Certified Tourism Executive designations. She is also a part of a five-city collaboration, SoMetro, that won five awards for a marketing campaign that focused on cities promoting together. Providing the best experience for visitors is her and her department’s passion that shows every day.

Senitra Horbrook

Contributing writer for The Points Guy

Senitra Horbrook, a contributing writer for The Points Guy, is a frequent solo traveler who first began using miles and points in 2012 to travel on a shoestring budget. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and is a successful writer and editor, with experience working at several publications.

Jared Kamrowski

Founder, Thrifty Traveler

Jared Kamrowski is the founder of Thrifty Traveler, the leading source for flight deals, cheap travel tips, and learning how to maximize travel rewards. Jared honed his travel skills by traveling over 100 nights a year as a CPA. He left his job in 2017 and now runs Thrifty Traveler full time flying over 100,000 miles per year. You can catch him flying the fanciest first-class cabins as well as budget airlines, paying only pennies on the dollar. He resides with his wife Erica in Minneapolis, MN.

Matthew Klint

Blogger at Live and Let’s Fly

Matthew Klint is an avid traveler who calls Los Angeles home. Each year he travels more than 200,000 miles by air and has visited more than 135 countries over the last decade. Working both in the aviation industry and as a travel consultant, Matthew has been featured in major media outlets around the world.
Studying international relations, American government, and later obtaining a law degree, Matthew has a plethora of knowledge outside the travel industry that leads to a unique writing perspective. He has served in the United States Air Force, on Capitol Hill, and in the White House.
His Live and Let’s Fly blog shares the latest news in the airline industry, commentary on frequent flyer programs and promotions, and detailed reports of his worldwide travel
He also founded awardexpert.com, a highly-personalized consulting service that aids clients in the effective use of their credit card points and frequent flyer miles.

James Larounis

Travel Industry Analyst

James Larounis is a travel industry analyst specializing in airline operations, loyalty programs, and reward travel, and owns The Forward Cabin and social media channels, with over 35,000 followers. Currently, he writes about and serves as an expert on American Airlines for Upgraded Points, with over 21 million annual readers.
Among several media spotlights, he’s spoken at Frequent Traveler University, Princeton University, and the New York Times Travel Show, been quoted in The New York Times, The Fiscal Times, Travel+Leisure Magazine, Skift, Forbes, New York Magazine, the Daily Mail, the Washington Post, and Condé Nast Traveler, been featured on CNN, FOX News, and the BBC, written for InsideFlyer, Road Warrior Voices/USA Today, Forbes, 1000TravelTips.com, and makes regular guest appearances as a featured expert discussing the travel industry on major television news media. Previous consulting projects have included clients such as Executive Travel, the Loyalty Summit, Frequent Traveler University, the Frequent Traveler Awards, SELECT Innovations, Flightbucks, OurBus, ZED Aerospace, PEX+, American Airlines, and DoNotPay Travel, among others.
His expertise includes the operations and loyalty programs of American Airlines, Hyatt, and Amtrak, and he’s regularly cited as an expert on the topics of those companies and others in industry publications, forums, and major media.

Debra Lee

Director, Travel Industry Sales, Greater Miami Convention & Visitor’s Bureau

Debra Lee was appointed Travel Industry Sales Director at the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau in April 2019.  She has responsibility for the Southeast, Southwest and West US, the Caribbean and Brazil.
Debra is a graduate of the University of Miami with a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations and a Minor in Marketing.  She has over twenty-five (25) years of experience in the travel industry and started her career as an American Airlines Customer Service Representative at the Miami International Airport in 1990. After spending eleven years with American Airlines in various departments; Debra went onto become Regional Sales Manager for the Caribbean at global distribution and travel technology provider, Travelport. During her 15-year tenure at Travelport, Debra also served as Marketing Support Manager for Latin America and was the Steering Committee Coordinator for Travelport’s Latin America Expansion Project. In 2016, Debra assumed the role of Business Development Manager with American Airlines Vacations.  Prior to joining the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, Debra worked as the Business Development Manager for the Southwest USA at the Jamaica Tourist Board.

Rudy Maxa

Rudy Maxa

Travel Journalist, Broadcaster

Former Washington Post investigative reporter and columnist, Maxa has worked for 17 years as a contributing editor with National Geographic Traveler magazine; co-created and hosted the former public radio show, “The Savvy Traveler;” and has produced and hosted 98, half-hour episodes for public television featuring the world’s great destinations, “Rudy Maxa’s World.”  Those shows have garnered numerous awards including several Emmys.  As a consumer travel writer, he’s written numerous newspapers and magazines around the world and served as a travel columnist for ABC.com and MSNBC.com.

David McKay

Master Photographer

Having taught on some of the largest stages in the industry, to thousands of people, both professional photographers, and amateurs alike, Dave has a passion for photography and teaching. He believes that just being a great photographer does not make you a great teacher and that the ingredients of both emotion and skill must be shared and taught. David shares his love and enthusiasm for the world, travel, and photography wherever he goes.
He has received some of the highest photographic awards in the world including the prestigious Master of Photography, Photographic Craftsmen, and Certified Professional Photographer degrees from Professional Photographers of America- the LEADING professional photography organization in the world.
Recently, David was one of only 60 in the world to receive a Gold medal from Professional Photographers of America for his achievements in image competition. You may also know David from his #1 International Best Selling photography book series, “Photography Demystified”. Each of his 4 books in the series has shot to #1.

Lillian Rafson

Founder + CEO, Pack Up + Go

Lillian Rafson, founder and CEO of Pack Up + Go, launched the business in January 2016 at 23 years old. Originally from Pittsburgh, PA, and a graduate of New York University’s Gallatin School with a major in Consumer Culture, Lillian has always had a passion for travel and supporting small businesses. She is thrilled to share her love for exploration through Pack Up + Go’s mission of embracing the unknown and encouraging spontaneity in each of its travelers.

Nick Serati

Co-Founder, Thrifty Traveler

Nick Serati is the co-founder of Thrifty Traveler, the leading source for flight deals, cheap travel tips, and learning how to maximize travel rewards. In a previous life, Nick worked in software consulting which required extensive time on the road. He developed a passion for maximizing hotel and airline loyalty programs and using credit cards to travel the world for pennies on the dollar. He left his job in 2018 to run Thrifty Traveler full time with founder Jared Kamrowski, where he now travels over 75,000 miles each year. Nick resides in Minneapolis, MN with his wife Abbey and daughter Elin

Dupree Smith

Regional Manager, Business Development/Sales & Marketing, The Bahamas Tourist Office, Houston

Dupree Smith is an experienced sales and marketing professional with more than 15 years experience in the marketing industry, and 10 years experience in the hospitality and tourism industry.
As the Regional Business Development Manager with The Bahamas Tourist Office, some of his primary responsibilities include positioning The Islands Of The Bahamas as the premier destination globally specifically in the Southwest, Southeast, and Midwest states in the U.S and increasing the visitor arrivals we receive from those regions.
He graduated from the historic Langston University in Langston, Oklahoma with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications and a Master of Arts in Marketing at Texas Southern University.

Paul Theroux

Bestselling Author, Novelist, Travel Writer

Many of Theroux’s novels are set in exotic locations both real and imagined. They are inspired by his own prolific travels, which he chronicles in his highly distinguished body of nonfiction. With his landmark works The Great Railway Bazaar: By Train Through Asia and The Old Patagonian Express, Theroux established himself as America’s foremost travel writer. In his many subsequent books, including Riding the Iron Rooster, Dark Star Safari, and The Last Train to Zona Verde: My Ultimate African Safari, Theroux has continued to hone that reputation. In Last Train to Zona Verde, Theroux wrote that he would no longer be writing from the farthest corners of the world, and so for his tenth travel book, he trained his eye stateside for the first time. Deep South: Four Seasons on Back Roads is at once “a vivid contemporary portrait of rural life” and “a deeply affecting personal account” (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution).
Continuing in this tradition, Theroux’s latest is On the Plain of Snakes: A Mexican Journey, a book about the cultures on both sides of the US-Mexico border. As he traverses the deserts between Arizona and Sonora, Theroux finds a place brimming with vitality, yet visibly marked by both the US Border Patrol looming to the north and mounting discord from within. In their starred review, Kirkus praised the book as “Illuminating, literate, and timely—a must-read for those interested in what’s going on inside Mexico,” and The Wall Street Journal called it a ”fierce and poignant account”. On the Plain of Snakes was one of Publishers Weekly‘s Top 10 Memoirs for fall 2019.
Born in Massachusetts in 1941, Theroux began his travels in earnest after graduating from the University of Massachusetts in 1963. In addition to his books, he has written widely for TimeThe AtlanticThe New YorkerTalkGQ, Smithsonian, and Esquire. He has lived, taught, and written around the world, including in Urbino, Italy; Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda; the University of Singapore; the United Kingdom; and Malawi, where he served with the Peace Corps. He lives in Maine and Hawaii.
To Read Paul Theroux ‘s FULL Bio Visit: http://www.lyceumagency.com/speakers/paul-theroux/

Sarah Touchstone

Sarah is an avid traveler who loves taking her family of 4 along for the ride! Sarah began using points and miles to fund her travels in 2011 and has never looked back! In fact, she became a flight award booker for Points Pros in 2017 and has booked trips for clients all over the world! She is a self-professed Francophile who travels to France frequently with friends and family. She is always planning the next trip and loves being able to use her points and miles to make her travel dreams a reality!

Alanna Zingano

Travel Content Creator, Travel the World From A to Z

Travel the World From A to Z is a Cruise and Travel blog. If the destination falls in-between Alanna Zingano’s initials, she is probably cruising there and blogging about it! Alanna’s content revolves around inspiring others to travel more as she shares her advice and knowledge through her own adventures. Her continuous goal is to create a message about weekend getaways, cruise planning, travel and vacation tips and tricks, and excursion advice!