Written By: Andy Ogg – Editor for Travel Professional NEWS® Travel Professional NEWS® had the opportunity to join the Uniglobe family this past month at the beautiful Sheraton Hotel and Marina in sunny San Diego, California. Being a local resident to this great city, the drive from our home to downtown is not only quick but enjoyable. With the Pacific ocean to the right and our beautiful city in the distance, I made my way down to the Sheraton early in the morning on Thursday to join the Uniglobe family at their 2017 Conference. Upon arrival, I was greeted by the friendly staff at the registration booth who provided my credentials and directed me to the hall where the first session was already underway. I made my way to the doors and slowly pulled them open, wow is all I can say. The room was full of agents, suppliers and of course the Uniglobe family. On stage, Kathleen Passanisi was delivering a fantastic and lively discussion on one’s health and how it can directly relate to their success. Kathleen is a Hall of Fame speaker and has a fantastic history in education, healthcare, has received the Lifetime Achievement Award in Therapeutic Humor. Kathleen is a true believer that happiness isn’t acquired by things but rather by experiences and her outlook, humor, and valuable advice was not only amazing, but had the crowd throughly engaged. Soon after Kathleen wrapped up her initial presentation, the Uniglobe awards commenced which were not only focused on top agents in the Uniglobe family, but also suppliers that have shown fantastic commitment, partnership and products for the Uniglobe Host Agency. Awards were presented to the following Suppliers as follows;Favorite Contemporary Cruise Line: Royal CaribbeanFavorite Premium Cruise Line: Celebrity CruisesFavorite River Cruise Line: Viking River CruiseFavorite Luxury Cruise Line: Crystal CruisesFavorite Tour Operator – Europe: Globus Family of BrandsFavorite Tour Operator – Hawaii: Classic VacationsFavorite Tour Operator – Mexico/Caribbean: Funjet VacationsFavorite Car Rental Company: HertzBest Service and Support – Land: Globus Family of BrandsBest Service and Support – Cruise: Royal Caribbean[Text Wrapping Break] Agent Awards were as follows:Million Dollar ProducersAgency of the Year – Envoy TravelOutstanding Sales Preferred Airline: CARF InternationalOutstanding Sales Preferred Cruise: All About You Travel UnlimitedOutstanding Sales Preferred Tour and Top Preferred Sales Overall: Vacations in ParadiseHighest Percentage of Growth Year over Year: Destinations by DebbyROOKIE OF THE YEAR 2016: Azalea Travel As the awards ended, I was able to catch up with Chris Cancilla. Chris has been a Travel Professional for 17 years and has been working with the Uniglobe Host Agency for all 17 years. When asked about the Uniglobe hosting programs, Chris had this to say, “Uniglobe has assisted me in my growth and success by facilitating supplier relationships and always offering support.” Chris is based out of Andavo, Ohio and has been a home based agent for the entire tenure of her career. “You can’t find better support than Uniglobe. The commission levels are just an added bonus to say the least.” said Chris. We made our way back into the main hall and all attendees had the opportunity to learn a bit more bout the Travel Guard products and their benefits, including some great advice from Travel Guard on real statistics of incidences that can occur while traveling, even when careful. The Viking River Cruise Line followed to announce some exciting new features to their ships and itineraries for 2017 and 2018. Followed by the Supplier presentations was lunch. On the way to lunch, I was able to catch up with Crystal Smith from Davidson, North Carolina. Crystal had just won the “Agency of the Year” award at the 2017 Uniglobe conference and the success of her business is inspiring. Crystal worked as flight attendant for nearly 17 years before making the decision to begin her next career selling travel. “I started looking at Hosts alphabetically, which put Uniglobe at the bottom, something happened and a day after I spoke to them, I joined,” said Crystal. Crystal has been operating her agency, Envoy Travel, for 4 years now and started with Uniglobe and doesn’t plan on leaving. When asked what made Uniglobe stand out, “It just made sense, the mentoring program was the selling point for me.” Crystal specializes in family and multi-generational travel and hopes to break into the adventure segment at some point in her future. Crystal ended our chat with “Uniglobe is truly my travel family. They are my family in this business and continue to be amazing!” Lunch was served on a beautiful outside terrace, with the blue Pacific just a few feet away. The cool breeze from the water added a very nice accent to the amazing lunch that was served. There was no doubt as I watched the group interact that the Uniglobe agents truly have a family in themselves. Laughter, jokes and smiles could be seen all around the terrace as lunch winded down. From my arrival to my departure, I was inspired but the sense of community and family that was so present at this event. Betsy Geiser and her team have brought together a fantastic group of individuals who are dedicated to their businesses and want to be on the cutting edge. Uniglobe is certainly providing that basis and support for these agents. I look forward to seeing them all at the next event or conference and would like to personally congratulate all of the fantastic agents and suppliers that received awards from the Uniglobe team. From all of us at Travel Professional NEWS®, thank you for having us and we look forward to seeing you all again!