The 2014 New York Travel Festival – A Transformative Experience

  • Ethan Gelber
  • 22 April 2014

A lot of buzzwords out there are used to convey a sense of mindful connection with the people and places you visit when you travel: ecotourism, geotourism, responsible and sustainable travel, local and slow travel, conscious and transformative travel, community-based and pro-poor tourism, immersive and experiential travel, agritourism, voluntourism… and oh so much more. You’ve probably heard or read some of these terms and then perhaps dismissed them or not fully understood them.

New York Travel Festival logoOften enough, though, they resonate and stick. And they can be very important, which is why we have chosen to focus on them in the pages of this website. In many cases, these terms give both travel purveyors and procurers a quick way of finding one another in a marketplace cluttered by irresponsible and unethical operators. People passionate about threatened cultures need search no further than champions of “indigenous tourism,” for example.

With that in mind, The Travel pleased to see that the New York Travel Festival, like more and more other major travel shows, is embracing the value of travel that is as much about the visitor as it is the host, as concerned about the inner journey as the outer one and as focused on the unique experience of a place as preservation of the environment and culture that sustains such an experience. And for this show of grace, we are pleased to have thrown our support behind this mold-shattering conference for a second year in a row.

The NY Trav Fest

Produced by RW Social, the New York Travel Festival is a reinvention of the concept of the consumer travel show. Like its inaugural outing, which we reported on enthusiastically last year, the 2014 NY Trav Fest is designed for tech-savvy, immersive travelers, and features valuable panels, interactive discussions and hands-on workshops with top names in the travel industry.

Over the course of two days in two locations – Saturday, April 26, at Bohemian National Hall (321 East 73rd Street, between 1st and 2nd avenues in Manhattan) and Sunday, April 27, at Hostelling International – New York (891 Amsterdam Avenue, at 104th Street in Manhattan) – parallel industry and consumer content “tracks” will provide anyone and everyone with direct access to and advice from experts on hot-button travel topics and trends.

This includes intimate and interactive sessions with experts, whether one-on-one in a new Experts’ Corner, focused masterclasses and workshops or cooking demonstrations, as well as thematic through-threads that reveal the intensity and complexity of the challenges associated with travel and tech startups, destination marketing, content creation and media and, of course, responsible travel.

“As opposed to standard travel shows, which tend to highlight the most commercial tourism available, NY Trav Fest embraces those who see travel as a means of experience, not just escape,” said Roni Weiss, the founder and organizer of the NY Trav Fest. “Our attendees do not see travel as a way to get out of the day-to-day, but, rather, as a necessity that is firmly embedded within their lives. This year’s sessions include a variety of panels and speakers who will intimately share their own journeys, as well as what they do to help others on theirs.”

Here is some of what’s in store.

A Focus on Transformative Travel

This we all know: Travel changes people. If nothing else, it broadens their horizons, and introduces them to new cultures, languages and ideas. Better yet, it helps them to see the world through other people’s eyes, fundamentally alters the way they engage with… well, with everything, including themselves. As part of the 2104 NY Trav Fest, leading scholars, sustainability advocates and travel-adventure planners/guides/specialists are coming together to discuss and explore the kind of travel that transforms.

* The Transformative Power of Travel: How travel can change you and the world (Tuesday, April 22, 1-2PM) – This is a Google+ Hangout on Air and will broach topics such as: the “eco-cultural” mindset, what leads to transformation, and the conditions for transformative travel.

Panelists: Dr. Kelly Bricker (Chair, Global Sustainable Tourism Council; Chair, The International Ecotourism Society (TIES); Associate Professor, Sustainable Tourism Management, University of Utah), Ian OSullivan (Founder, Alternative Escapes), Anna Pollock (Founder, Conscious Travel) and Dr. Susan Ross (Professor, Recreation Therapy, San Jose State University, and author.
Moderator: Ethan Gelber (Founder/Editor, +The Travel Word).

Media panel at Representatives from leading travel media spoke at the 2013 New York Travel Festival at 2013 New York Travel Festival

Representatives from leading travel media spoke at the 2013 New York Travel Festival. Photo courtesy of New York Travel Festival

* #NYTF Thursday VIP Event, Presented by Epic Road and Alternative Escapes (Thursday, April 24, 2014, 7PM-9PM) – This invite-only media event continues the conversation about immersive and life-changing travel. Ian OSullivan (Alternative Escapes) and Mark Lakin (Epic Road) bridge the divide between Tuesday’s Hangout and a live panel on Saturday (see directly below).

* The Science Behind Transformative Travel (Saturday, April 26, 11AM-12PM) – This live panel carries on the discussions started in the Hangout, finishing with a grounded and more practical take on how travelers can pursue their transformative travel desires.

Panelists: Joe Diaz (Co-founder, AFAR Media); Mark Lakin (Co-founder, Epic Road); Dr. Lynn Minnaert (Assistant Professor, New York University’s Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management); and Ian OSullivan (Founder, Alternative Escapes).
Moderator: Gabi Logan (freelance writer).

* Matador Network Speaker Series Featuring Bruce Poon Tip (Sunday, April 27, 4-6PM; free with registration) – In a session entitled “Transformation in Travel,” Poon Tip, founder of G Adventures, a global adventure travel company dedicated to providing travelers with award-winning experiences and authentic accommodations, will discuss lessons from his experiences as an entrepreneur and sustainable travel advocate.

Other Interesting “Responsible” Panels

Of course, transformative travel isn’t the only responsible-travel lodestone at the NY Trav Fest this year. For the determined traveler or professional of conscience, here is sampling of discussions not to be missed.

* When Travel and Tech Make Good: Challenges, Lessons Learned and the Way Ahead (Saturday, April 26, 12-1PM) – This panel covers the intersection of travel, tech and social good and includes insights from the founders of action-oriented and thought-leading companies like Oh The People You Meet, Benevolent Mercenaries, Brand Karma and Everyday Ambassador.

* Traveling with a Purpose (Saturday, April 26, 2:00-3:00PM) – Four companies determined to make a difference exchange words about how they guide their efforts and their travelers. Those companies are Learning AFAR, MCW Journeys, Passports with Purpose and The Culture-ist.

2013 New York Travel Festival

Consumers at the 2013 New York Travel Festival had direct access to travel experts and exhibitors. Photo courtesy of New York Travel Festival

* Why the Travel Industry Shouldn’t Fear Journalism (Saturday, April 26, 2:30-3:00pm) – Hear why, despite the dumbing down of a lot of travel content, some of the people who tell and read stories for a living, including Ethan Gelber (Founder and Editor of The Travel Word), know there is great value to journalism and other forms of well-researched and responsibly reported quality content.

* Learning AFAR, the Importance of Travel in Your Youth (Saturday, April 26, 3:00-3:15PM) – A Learning AFAR alumna shares insights on why travel during high school was pivotal for her vision of her future and understanding of her place within our world.

* Extremely Impactful and Efficient (Sunday, April 27, 3:15-3:30PM) – In just 15 minutes, learn how you can make a sustainable and positive impact with only three hours of your time when you travel. The Do Good As You Go movement shows you how you can get involved and meet amazing local non-profits on the road, while still meeting your tight travel schedule.

Keeping It Local: When in New York…

In keeping with the Trav Fest commitment always to staying local by grounding gatherings in the culture and vibe of the host destination, the 2014 NY Trav Fest is presenting great content about New York City and New York State.

It also promises great experiences out in the mean (but magical) streets of the Big Apple. All ticket-holders receive discounts on NYC tours offered before, during and after the festival by a selection of New York City–based tour companies in partnership with the NY Trav Fest.

Whatever approach you take to the NY Trav Fest, the pickings are rich, no less so for the eco-geo-responsible-sustainable-local-slow-rural-community-village-propoor-cultural-culinary-wine-agri-adventure-extreme-mindful-ethical-conscious-transformative-good traveler.

“The New York Travel Festival encourages people to consider travel as a unique opportunity for life-changing adventure that can make a positive impact on the people and places they touch,” said Ian OSullivan, founder of Alternative Escapes, a socially conscious travel community for people seeking transformative, life-changing adventures. “It’s a community for the adventurous, socially conscious and culturally immersive traveler who wants to explore the world while helping to improve it.”

2014 NY Trav Fest banner

Purchase tickets for the NY Trav Fest at the following levels:
* Consumer Weekend Ticket: $45 in advance ($60 at the door)
* Industry Weekend Ticket: $100 in advance ($150 at the door)
* Sunday only: $12 in advance ($15 at the door)

Interested in a special discount through The Travel Word ($30 for advance purchase of consumer weekend tickets; $80 for advance purchase of industry tickets)? Drop us a quick note.

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Ethan Gelber

In addition to his freelance travel writing (Lonely Planet author, ex-AFAR Ambassador, Huffington Post Travel blogger and more), Ethan has agitated tirelessly for responsible/sustainable travel practices, family travel, keeping things local, and quality and relevance in publishing and destination marketing. Among many other things, Ethan is editorial director of the Family Travel Association, a co-founder of OutBounding, and tackles content projects for HomeExchange.com and RW Social, which produces the NY Trav Fest. Previously, Ethan was Chief Communications Officer of the WHL Group, for which he founded and edited The Travel Word (this now-independent blog); publications manager of the French government tourist office (Atout France) in NYC; and helped manage a Paris-based bicycle tour operator.
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cities, ecotours, festivals & events, local knowledge, North America, Northern America, opinion, responsible travel news, USA, whl.travel,

One Response to “The 2014 New York Travel Festival – A Transformative Experience”

  1. […] kicks into a new gear. And, as I have just pointed out in a new article on The Travel Word called The 2014 New York Travel Festival – A Transformative Experience, that new gear is a mindful one that sets the tone for the days […]

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