The countdown to our new favorite travel festival has begun! The New York Travel Festival is set to make a splash on April 18th and 19th and we couldn’t be more excited to see what it has in store. With only its third year running, the NY Trav Fest is passionate about bringing fresh information to the table and inspiring travelers and industry professionals to see the globe in new and exciting ways. If you are anything like us and believe that travel is about experiencing new things more than escaping from the daily grind, then you will love this festival. Throughout the weekend, experts from around the world will be speaking on panels, sharing experiences and answering questions that visitors have. Topics such as travel for underrepresented groups will be discussed at length and visitors will be encouraged to share their points of view and have their voices heard. Stories will be shared. Drinks will be had. Friends will be made. And maybe even a few dreams will be realized.

After hearing about this unique festival, we wanted to learn more; luckily, Roni Weiss, the event’s producer and founder/owner of RW Social, was available to answer a few of our questions:

How did the NY Travel Festival come about?

Mr. Weiss: Standard consumer travel shows draw a lot of baby boomers and families, and are not necessarily of particular relevance to young and/or immersion-minded travelers. I sought out to create an event that would be of use to young professionals. The thing about that group is that they tend to wear a lot of different hats, so we realized that our audience consisted of industry, media and consumers, with a lot of overlap between those.

Later on, it became clear that people saw our event as a great way to break into the industry, so we are introducing a part of the event, Pathfinder Consults, that is specifically aimed at giving people advice on career opportunities in travel.

What makes this festival different from other travel events?

A lot of other events are “shows” or “conferences.” The reason that we are a “Festival” is that not only do we want to inform and educate, but we want to inspire. We not only have panels and speakers, but performances, tastings and other sensory experiences.

What popular events have carried over from previous years, and what new events are there to look forward to?

Travel 2.0 @ #NYTF was introduced last year as our travel tech component. It went really well, so we are expanding it to be a resource to folks who are starting new travel businesses (or pivoting their current ones). New to this year: Travel Unity Summit, which will focus on underrepresented groups in travel, with a special focus on African-Americans and travelers with disabilities. Pathfinder Consults is an expansion of our Experts’ Corner (one-on-one appointments between experts and attendees), but focused on career advice. Meet, Plan, Go! put together a panel last year; this year, they are organizing a full four-hour workshop on career break travel.

Exciting. What can travelers, who don’t work in the industry, expect?

The New York Travel Festival is a great way to meet with people who see travel as a means of experience, not just escape. It’s a wonderful, welcoming place where it doesn’t really matter who you are or what you do, people just want to connect. As a “civilian,” you are able to meet with a lot of experts, either through Experts’ Corner or just talking to people, who can give you fantastic advice on where to go. We also have a dedicated Traveler Track that focuses on different places to go, both near and far, and cool things to do when you’re there.

The Travel Unity Summit sounds very interesting. Who all will be there?

We are very excited to have our “50 Shades of Black” panel as part of Travel Unity Summit/NY Trav Fest, which brings in some great young African-American leaders in travel, inc. Evita Robinson of Nomadness, Zim Ugochukwu of Travel Noire, Patrick Bennett from Uncommon Caribbean, and our moderator, Cherae Robinson from Rare Customs. We also will have a panel on innovation in accessibility, arranged by Cindy VandenBosch and the Museum Access Consortium, and a breakout arranged by advocate/consultant Janice S. Lintz which will focus on accessibility implementation, with representatives from the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission and the Lower East Side Tenement Museum.

What do you hope this festival will accomplish?

I see the New York Travel Festival as a way for like-minded, immersive travelers to get together. There are a lot of different groups, both industry and not, that get together regularly, but don’t necessarily have the opportunity to co-mingle. Our event is a way for people of many different backgrounds, disciplines, and interests, to come together, learn from one another, and share their love for travel.

The New York Travel Festival will take place April 18th and 19th of this year (2015). You can learn more on its website and purchase tickets here.

Stay tuned to Immersion Travel Magazine as there will be promotional coupons and discounts posted regarding event tickets as well as exciting news about the festival.

Disclaimer: Immersion Travel Magazine is working in partnership with New York Travel Festival and provides media support. This was decided after carefully assessing the festival’s goals and finding that its ethics were in line with Immersion Travel Magazine’s ethics code.

All photos are courtesy of the New York Travel Fest.


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