Story Of The Advantage Conference 2018

The Advantage Conference 2018 was held in Miami from 10-13 May, around 450 delegates were in attendance for three days of inspiring speakers, thought-provoking content and fantastic networking opportunities.

Here’s the story of the Advantage Conference 2018 told through the tweets, photos and feedback from the delegates.

Conference Highlights Video

Click below to watch all the highlights from the 2018 conference

2018 Conference Programme

Click on the arrows to flick through the programme

TTG Interview With Jerry Springer

Click on the image to read the full interview with Jerry

Welcome Reception

Hosted by the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB), delegates were welcomed Miami style with a delicious buffet of American, and South American treats as the sun set on our first evening in Miami. William D. Talbert, III, President & CEO of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB) officially welcomed delegates to the hotel, and to the destination.


Chapter One – Once Upon a Time

After a high energy introductory and surprise opening rap from our guest moderator, Chris Turner, Julia Lo Bue-Said, CEO of Advantage then took to the stage to officially start the Advantage Conference 2018.

Julia talked about a challenging year for the year industry and pinpointed some areas with crucial developments in place to strengthen and continue Advantage’s growth and position in the industry.


We took a step back in time and looked at the story of Advantage 40 years ago with some friendly faces featuring on the big screen including ex-director Colin O’Neill, and Neil Armorgie, our Global Product Director, CEO WIN.

The organisation was rebranded as Advantage in the early 00s, so during the presentation, we looked at how it has evolved and grown since then to what it is today.



Chapter Two – My Travel Story

Our first main session on stage showcased how leaders in our industry got to where they are today, the twists, the turns their journeys took and how that gives them a perspective on the future evolution of travel.

Speakers: Antonia Wysong, Delta. Adolfo Perez, Carnival Cruise Line. Nick Scott, arrangeMY and moderated by Paula Lacey, Advantage.



Leisure breakout programme

Despite geopolitical challenges, the rise of the machines and changes to society, travel is the never-ending story. During the leisure breakout sessions delegates looked at how you keep up with your storyline, how do you remain that you remain part of the story, and how to feature as a central character in the next chapter.

The sessions covered the below areas, with some fantastic speakers presenting:

Ye Olde Folk Tale – Debbie Marshall from Silver Travel Advisor provided a great insight in to understanding the silver market.

All Inclusive – Pippa Jacks from TTG and Dan Robertson from Vercida Consulting discussed inclusiveness and what this means for businesses today in the travel industry.

Digital Noise – Bruce Martin from Ginger Juice gave an engaging and informative session on social media.

The Page Turner – sales due Bob Morrell and Jeremy Blake from Reality Training organised a highly interactive workshop on sales techniques for your customers.

Tales of the Unexpected – Adventure touring was the topic here with Giles Hawke from ATAS and Lucy Huxley from Travel Weekly leading the session. Advantage’s John Sullivan announced a partnership with ATAS and the launch of our touring platform, Tour Finder.

A Seafarers Tale – a first time for a cruise session, delegates got to experience ‘life on board’ through a sensory session with champagne, music and blindfolds all on hand to take our delegates right on to a cruise ship.

Press coverage


“Our platform uses API feeds from all major UK touring and adventure operators ensuring the tours, prices and information are the latest available.”


 "Advantage Tour Finder has been designed for travel agents who do not have a large technology development budget but do want an intelligent and easy to use platform that can be built and installed within a few hours."

Travel Weekly

“It will save us trawling through brochures looking for something suitable as it will all be in one place. Anything that can save us time and help us create better itineraries can only be good.”

Attendee feedback

Leisure breakout programme

The leisure sessions were rated 4.4 out of 5

Bob & Jeremy I thought were amazing - so many ideas given to drive the business.

Interactive, engaging and passionate.

Debbie Marshall was fantastic, I could listen to her view on the industry all day.

Silver Travel Advisor bought humour to a very real subject and one that was also very relevant to the audience.

The Reality Training session was really interesting, I have taken most of this back to try and use myself in the office. Really interesting.


Business Travel breakout programme

In the business travel break out we took things back to basics and showed delegates how to build a compelling narrative and communicate it creatively with confidence.

The sessions covered the below areas, with some really knowledgeable speakers presenting:

The Narrator’s Prologue/ Outlining the Plot – Travelport’s Chief Storyteller, Jason Nash moderated the day’s sessions guiding the room through the art of good business storytelling.

Have I Got Fake News For You: Gameshow? – Ron DiLeo discussed the hop topics that will have a series impact on our delegates in 2018 and beyond.

Telling Stories – Our Buyer panel shared the biggest challenges facing them in 2018 and beyond.

StorySlam – Stan Berteloot from VisaHQ presented on how you develop a compelling narrative around your brand.

How to Tell the Story of you – Kevin Iwamato from Goldspring Consulting gave an inspiring session on how to build your brand and maintain it throughout your career.

Press coverage

Buying Business Travel

 "We have established ourselves as the home of the independent TMC – with a potential pipeline of an extra £400 million worth of buying power. Commission paid to its TMC members had also risen 200 per cent over the past year, compared with growth of 72 per cent for its leisure members. "

The Business Travel Magazine

“Consolidation, relationships and technology were among the key themes considered at the Advantage Conference, where the consortium's management also announced significant growth in business travel sales.”

Attendee feedback

Business Travel breakout programme

Best part was Kevin Iwamoto's presentation. Very engaging and interesting.

Jason Nash was excellent.

Personally found it interesting and thought provoking.

Kevin Iwamto was amazing, when I got back I ordered the book!


Carnival party night


Chapter Two – My Travel Story

The final afternoon of the two-day event showcased our final plenary session, focusing on the constantly evolving political and economic story and the changing consumer need.

Speakers: Peter Greenberg, CBS Travel News. Joanna Kolatsis, Hill Dickinson and Steven Esom, Advantage Chairman.



Jerry Springer

For our final and much-anticipated session of the conference, our keynote speaker TV star Jerry Springer told the audience his own story, as well as one of challenging politics and life in showbiz.



Advantage Conference 2019

We were delighted to announce on stage that the destination for 2019 will be Cadiz in Spain. A beautiful part of old-fashioned Spain, add 17-20 May to your diaries now!



Gala dinner night

After an unexpected rainfall, our pool party moved inside for a spectacular gala dinner night. Our rap moderator Chris Turner performed his final showpiece which made the audience howl with laughter! Our sponsors for the evening Holiday Extras, organised a fantastic evening with games and more – all in all, a great final night!



Delegates made the most of their time left in Miami and then headed to the airport to make the long journey home.

Here are our Advantage Conference 2018 highlights.  Roll on next year, 2019 #AdvConf19

Conference feedback


  • The overall format of the speed dating session rated 4.4 out of 5.
  • The whole setting the scene and personal storytelling really inspired the group to think about their own stories for the remainder of the conference.
  • Pre-conference information and communications were rated 4.6 out of 5.
  • The overall organisation during the conference was rated 4.6 out of 5.
  • As always, an amazing job on the organisation.
  • Each year the conference improves. The speakers this year were all fantastic.
  • The compere was absolutely fantastic and I would certainly be using his services again for the next conference.
  • I have grown to love the Advantage Conference over the past 4-5 years that I have attended. The organisation is always to a very high standard and the team should be congratulated for that. I completely appreciate the huge challenges that Advantage must face when facilitating such a huge event and for so many people but the key to the success, in my opinion, is creating memorable environments where members, business partners and guests can network and establish long-lasting relationships.
  • 92.26% of delegates said they would be joining us in Cadiz.



Press coverage


“Miami has been a resounding success and we look forward to welcoming Advantage members in Cadiz.”

Travel Weekly

“Business is increasingly about what a brand stands for as well as what they are selling. We want our members to go away having heard inspirational stories that can help shape the way they promote their own businesses and tell their own story.”


"As the Advantage conference is a yearly event in many members' calendars we chose Cadiz as the 2019 venue because it offers a juxtaposed experience to Miami."