CEO and Co-Founder, Kind Traveler
Jessica Blotter is CEO & Co-Founder of Kind Traveler. The moment she discovered that the love of travel can’t be separated from the state of the world after witnessing poverty on a trip to Belize in 2012, she wondered how the $7-trillion travel industry could be harnessed to benefit communities, the environment, and animals. This experience led her and her cofounder to launch Kind Traveler, a Public Benefit Corporation that’s the first socially-conscious Give + Get hotel booking platform. Travelers are empowered to give a small $10 nightly donation to a local charity that’s in the community of where they are traveling, or to a favorite charity on the platform. As reward, they unlock exclusive hotel rates in 30+ cities to book directly with hotels. 100 percent of donations go to charities, creating a triple win for the traveler, charity, and hotel.
Since launching Kind Traveler, Blotter has been featured in more than 200 news and blog outlets including LA Times, New York Times, Afar, Conde Nast Traveler, and Travel + Leisure, and has delivered a TEDx talk. In 2017, she was a recipient of a WITTI (Women in Travel & Tourism International) Award as a Rising Star in Travel & Tourism presented by Skift.
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.
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.
Station Manager, Azores Airlines, Grupo SATA
Zeto Carvalho was born and raised in the Azores, where he’s been working for Azores Airlines – Grupo SATA since 2000. Since that time, he has travelled between all the islands getting to know all the nature and beauty. I’ve been in California since 2016 promoting and marketing the Airlines and the Azores.
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, Cooking 4 Life, Inc.
Melissa Currey has been a health and nutritional specialist for over 25 years, and together she and her husband, Scott Currey, VP of Cooking 4 Life oversee operations of the Wellness Center for COOKING 4 LIFE…located in Kearny Mesa.
Cooking 4 Life, Inc. is a Health and Nutrition Company established in the year 2006. Melissa’s commitment is to educate families on proper food preparation using the appropriate foods and the right tools in your kitchen. Melissa believes everyone deserves to be healthy and can have the knowledge and tools to sustain a vibrant healthy life. In today’s world it is becoming challenging to provide nutritious healthy meals for you or your family. People today are busier than ever, and we offer solutions to the time challenges families are faced with today. Cooking 4 Life’s wellness program offers a variety of cooking classes: Longevity, The Cancer Project, Simple Gourmet, Deliciously Nutritious and Saladmaster Basics (and many more) …. Melissa believes cooking with her trained chefs and using the Saladmaster system can help with this large problem facing families everywhere.
Let us help bring joy and fun back to your kitchen, we will show you how to cook food so that you preserve and enhance the nutritive value of that food in a way that will benefit your mind and body.”
Regional Director Tourism Fiji
Ruth Daly and her team at Tourism Fiji are proud to represent the 333 islands that make up the South Pacific paradise known as Fiji. With overnight flights from LAX and SFO, our islands are easy to reach and offer something for all sorts of travelers. But it’s the people of Fiji that make the destination the unique and unforgettable vacation destination that it is!
Award-Winning Concierge and Producer/Host of Ask A Concierge
Sarah Dandashy is an award-winning concierge and travel influencer. She won the title of Best Young Concierge in the world in 2015 from Les Clefs d’Or International–the international professional organization of concierge. Along with hotel brands, from The Peninsula, Four Seasons, and Fairmont Hotels, she also works with big brands within the travel realm, Trip Advisor, Airbnb, and American Airlines to name a few. She is considered a verified source of travel information as both a local expert in Los Angeles and a through her concierge connections around the world. People seek her out for her travel tips, advice, and knowledge of trends from the frontlines of travel!
Author Plan Your Escape®
Wayne Dunlap of Plan Your Escape® is a featured travel speaker and award-winning travel photojournalist and blogger with over 164,000 social media followers. Having visited 100 countries on 6 continents as well as 45 U.S. states, Wayne and his wife, Pat, show people what is worth seeing and unique easy-to-use strategies how to travel for half the cost for all levels of travel from budget to luxury and 100’s of other unique travel tips.
Wayne’s popular travel blog (UnhookNow.com) was chosen by TripAdvisor: Top 25 Travel Blogger to Follow as well as other awards: Top Couple Travel Blogger and Best Boomer Travel Bloggers to Follow.
Recently, the Dunlap’s rented their home and traveled the world for the past 5 years. Articles about them and their unique travel tips have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report, ABC News, Entrepreneur Magazine, Huffington Post, & many others. The Dunlaps love to inspire others to travel and are active speakers with presentations at large travel shows such as the Travel & Adventure Show (the #1 series of travel shows in the U.S.), San Francisco Travel Show, and The Philadelphia Inquirer Travel Show.
Wayne is author of the 5-star rated travel book Plan Your Escape®, Secrets of Traveling the World for Less Than the Cost of Living at Home, a travel columnist for the Huffington Post, and radio co-host. The Dunlaps were TV hosts of the travel show Plan Your Escape® aired on the CW network.
Before starting their travel adventures, Wayne was a business owner, executive of high-tech companies, and an Economic professor after his PhD program at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). He is listed in Who’s Who Among American Professionals.
Contact Wayne to learn more and sign up for free travel tips and bargains:
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.
Emmy Award-Winning Investigative Reporter and Producer and CBS News Travel Editor
A multiple Emmy Award-winning investigative reporter and producer, Peter Greenberg is Americaʼs most recognized, honored and respected front-line travel news journalist. Known in the industry as “The Travel Detective,” he is the travel editor for CBS News, appearing on CBS This Morning, CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley, and Sunday Morning, among other broadcast platforms.
The consummate insider on reporting the travel business as news, Greenberg hosts the television show, “The Travel Detective with Peter Greenberg,” airing on Public Television. The series offers 42 half-hour episodes with cutting-edge travel information and insider tips you need to know before you ever leave home, plus in-depth reports on the good, bad, and yes, even ugly aspects of travel.
Greenberg also produces and co-hosts an ongoing series of acclaimed public television specials, “The Royal Tour,” featuring personal, one-on-one journeys through countries with their heads of state. Along with such figures as the King of Jordan, Prime Minister of New Zealand and presidents of Mexico and Peru, Greenbergʼs newest special features the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu.
Among other television projects, Greenberg is creator, co-executive producer and host of CNBCʼs specials “Inside American Airlines: A Week in the Life” and “Cruise Inc: Big Money on the High Seas,” and is co-executive producer of “Baggage Battles,” airing on the Travel Channel, and The History Channelʼs two-hour special “Lost Magic.” On radio he hosts the nationally syndicated show “Peter Greenberg Worldwide,” broadcast each week from a different remote location worldwide, and is heard on hundreds of radio stations across the U.S.
Greenberg is also author of The New York Times best-selling Travel Detective series. His most recent book, The Best Places for Everything, comes in the wake of such titles as Donʼt Go There! and The Complete Travel Detective Bible. Currently editor at large of Global Business Travel magazine and a contributing writer to Watch, he has also been a featured guest on CNN, “The OʼReilly Factor,” “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” and “The View.”
Travel Weekly named him one of the most influential people in travel, along with Bill Marriott and Richard Branson. In 2012, he was inducted into the U.S. Travel Associationʼs Hall of Leaders for his contributions to the travel industry. Among his other honors, Greenberg received a News & Documentary Emmy Award as part of the “Dateline” team for outstanding coverage of a breaking news story, “Miracle on the Hudson.”
He began his career in journalism as West Coast correspondent for Newsweek in Los Angeles and San Francisco. He won a national Emmy Award (Best Investigative Reporting) for his 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.
Greenberg is a sought-after expert speaker and moderator. He is a keynote speaker at annual summits for the World Travel and Tourism Council, the Global Business Travel Association and Virtuoso. He is also one of the chief moderators at the World Economic Forum and the Global Tourism Economic Forum. Along with a recent TED talk, he is a guest speaker at events which have been hosted by Visa, Bloomberg, AARP and numerous other B2B and B2C organizations.
His website, PeterGreenberg.com, is one of the leading travel news resources for consumers and industry insiders alike. When he is not traveling the globe, Greenberg also serves as an active volunteer firefighter in New York.
Tourism Development and Sales Manager, Visit Anchorage Alaska
Jara Haas – Born in Branson, Missouri and raised in 13 different states, to say Jara was groomed for a career in the travel industry is an understatement. For the past 5 years Jara Haas has worked as a tourism development and sales manager for Visit Anchorage. Her focuses are adventure travel, student/youth travel, family travel, and the Russia and Latin America markets. In her spare time Jara enjoys hiking, biking and pack rafting her way through the wilderness of Alaska with her two children in tow. Jara loves sharing Alaska with the world and considers herself lucky to call the land of the Midnight Sun home.
Marketing and PR Executive, the Tourism Authority of Thailand Los Angeles Office
Candy has been with the Tourism Authority of Thailand Los Angeles Office since she was a college intern from UCLA and has since spent her time promoting a place she now considers her second home. She is a Los Angeles native who in addition to working for TAT has a camera attached firmly to her forehead for as long as she can remember. Her transition from selfies to landscapes and travel photography was the debacle but upon completion, served far more compelling pieces than the usual pouty lips pose.
Senior Director of Strategic Partnerships & Agent Engagement, Cruise Planners
Cathy Kusuma is Senior Director of Strategic Partnerships & Agent Engagement at Cruise Planners where she and her team coordinate and manage all agent events, including new franchisee training classes, boot camps and regional meetings, as well as spearheading the company’s annual Convention – the largest training and development event of the year. Kusuma also secures exclusive value-add, training and marketing partnerships for Cruise Planners agents. Kusuma was the recipient of the 2013 Rising Star Award by Vacation Agent Magazine.
Richard Liverance, ThM, DMin
Israel Ministry of Tourism, Marketing Director, Western Region USA
Rich has traveled the world since he was a boy, exploring North America, South America, Europe, the Caribbean, the South Pacific, Asia, and the Middle East; but of all the destinations where he has been, his greatest passion is for Israel. He is an ordained pastor with advanced degrees in both theology and Bible teaching, and served for more than 25 years in various churches in the United States, always impressing upon his audiences the importance of Israel to world history and the wonder of traveling there. He now serves as the US Western Regional Marketing Director for the Government of Israel Ministry of Tourism in Los Angeles.
Award Winning Travel Journalist, Travel Expert, Radio & TV Host
Rudy Maxa, one of America’s premier consumer travel experts, is host and executive producer of “Rudy Maxa’s World,” the nationwide, Emmy Award winning, public television travel series that features destinations as diverse as Korea, Argentina, South Africa, Tuscany, and Thailand.
Many of Mr. Maxa’s 98 television episodes on the world’s great destinations have aired in 121 countries in 22 different languages on Travel Channel International. Public television’s national “lifestyle” channel, Create, also broadcasts “Rudy Maxa’s World” regularly as does AXS-TV in the U.S.
He also created and co-hosts America’s most widely-syndicated travel radio show, “Rudy Maxa’s World with The Careys,” that airs each weekend on 280+ news/talk stations in North America and via its own TuneIn.com channel 24/7/365.
After college, Mr. Maxa began his journalism career as an investigative reporter and personalities columnist at the Washington Post where he worked for 13 years. Political scandal reportage by Maxa was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize by the Post, and he’s the author of two non-fiction books. He then became a senior writer and columnist at the city magazine, Washingtonian, before becoming Washington bureau chief of SPY magazine for two years.
Well known as public radio’s “Savvy Traveler” and an award-winning contributing editor with National Geographic Traveler magazine, Mr. Maxa has been a contributing editor to Delta’s SKY magazine as well as the voice of National Geographic Traveler’s “Walks of a Lifetime” podcasts.
As a writer for Traveler, Mr. Maxa’s articles earned him two Lowell Thomas Bronze Awards for Excellence in Travel Writing from the Society of American Travel Writers. His travel series on the great hotels of the world appeared in GQ, and he’s written on travel topics extensively for Worth, Forbes, Modern Maturity, USAToday, the Washington Post, Town & Country Travel, the Los Angeles Times, as well as USAToday.com, MSNBC.com and ABC.com. He’s been a frequent guest on national television networks and shows, including CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, and “The View.”
A long-time resident of Washington, D.C., and New York City, Mr. Maxa currently lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Bestselling Author, 1,000 Places to See Before You Die and 1,000 Places to See in The USA & Canada Before You Die
Patricia Schultz is the author of the #1 New York Times bestsellers 1,000 Places to See Before You Die and 1,000 Places to See in the United States and Canada Before You Die. A veteran travel journalist with 30 years of experience, she has written for guides such as Frommer’s and Berlitz and periodicals including The Wall Street Journal and Travel Weekly, where she is a contributing editor. She also executive-produced a Travel Channel television show based on 1,000 Places to See Before You Die. Her home base is New York City.
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.
Founder and Editor of Wanderlust and Lipstick WanderTours
Beth Whitman is the Chief Wanderer at Wanderlust and Lipstick (http://wanderlustandlipstick.com) and WanderTours (http://wandertours.com). She began traveling 30 years ago as a backpacker—taking solo trips throughout Asia and the U.S. She has expanded on her love for travel and now leads tours, takes hardcore adventure trips, is the author of several books and runs a non-profit that helps women and children in developing countries.
Beth has twice completed the 25-day, 220-mile Snowman Trek in Bhutan (considered the most difficult trek in the world); ridden a motorcycle solo from Seattle to Panama; spent a year traveling through Pacific Rim countries before it was fashionable; and is the founder of the WanderWorld Foundation (http://wanderworldfoundation.org) which helps women and children around the world. She now hosts the Be Bold podcast (http://beboldpodcast.com/), featuring extraordinary women doing Bold things.