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Sponsors & Speakers at USA Summer Soirée

Travel Media’s USA Summer Soirée at the Shelbourne Hotel served a sizeable dose of well-needed positivity to the attendees. Sponsors of the event included Dublin Airport, Universal Parks & Resorts, United Airlines, Brand USA and Philadelphia CVB.

Despite having to compete with oak-smoked salmon, Castletown crab and white chocolate mousse, the speakers managed to engage and entertain the audience. Here are a few highlights:

26 Years of Visit USA Committee

Chairperson of Visit USA Committee & Head of Global Sales – Aer Lingus, Jenny Rafter addressed the attendees, highlighting the committee’s sole purpose to promote visitation to the US. For the 75 organisations from across the industry she represents, she detailed that “the main ambition is to connect our members, their services and products with the Irish travel consumer, the travel trade and the industry”. She explained “over the past 2 years, we have pivoted our activity to ensure our members were informed… while still inspiring travel to the vast diversity of destinations our members have to offer”

After promising a calendar of upcoming roadshows, a Thanksgiving event and more, she emphasised “Ireland’s deep links to the US bind us historically, commercially and through our culture, and it has never been more evident”

On behalf of herself and Tony Lane (Executive Director – Visit USA Committee), she thanked the members and voluntary board colleagues, Tryphavana Cross, Tara Magee and Mairead Keegan.

13 is Unlucky for Some but Not Dublin Airport  

Gary McLean, Deputy Managing Director of Dublin Airport shared how the event was “a great opportunity for us to thank the travel trade for your support… and it’s great listening to the speeches today and looking forward with great positivity again.”

He detailed the “strong regrowth at Dublin Airport this year [with] more than 12 million passengers travelling through the airport for the first 6 months” with nearly 8 million having travelled in the last quarter (April – June). He shared how 2.85 million passengers passed through Dublin Airport in the month of June, representing 88% of traffic levels seen in 2019. The transAtlantic element of that was 400k in June, 85% of 2019 levels.

Gary McLean continued “We’re delighted to welcome back 13 US destinations in conjunction with our four airline partners, Aer Lingus, American [Airlines], Delta and United [Airlines]. We have 169 flights per week, that is 24 per day across those 13 destinations”

“Despite our recent challenges, Dublin Airport continues to be the 5th largest airport across Europe for North American connectivity”. The Irish in the audience would be well accustomed to Ireland’s tradition of punching above its weight!

Brand USA Offers One-Stop-Shop

Ava Mehta, Sales & Marketing Account Director – Brand USA UK & Ireland, highlighted the extensive resources available on Brand USA’s dedicated travel trade website. This is a “one-stop-shop” for the travel trade that includes USA information such as visa & entry policies; over thirty self-drive, multi-state itineraries (Insider Guides); a trip planner; destination information; rights-free images and videos; receptive tour operator directory; and what’s new in the USA. Find out more at https://Traveltrade.visittheusa.com/

In the Words of Mario “Let’s-a-go”

Grant Daley, Senior Business Development Manager – Universal Parks & Resorts kept the audience laughing with his effortless humour. Hardly a hard sell, he shared the very exciting news that Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Hollywood is set to open in 2023. I’m counting down the months.

Philadelphia CVB – World Cup & So Much More

Greg Evans and Julie Greenhill shared the “best-kept secret in the United States” where Philadelphia will be a host city of the Fifa World Cup in 2026. Apologies, I did have to check what World Cup it was (apparently, soccer). Though for non-sporting travellers, Philadelphia has spectacular sights to enjoy away from a sports field. Visit the Liberty Bell or where the Declaration of Independence was signed, enjoy an exhibition at the Barnes Foundation or run up the infamous steps in “Rocky”.

Good Leads the Way with Martina Coogan

The new tag line for United Airlines is “Good Leads the Way” with “80,000+ hero characters on a mission to do good… working to make the world a happier, greener, more inclusive, more fascinating place”. Martina Coogan, Manager Ireland – United Airlines, name-checked each of her colleagues based in Ireland and thanked them for their continued support and efforts.

She detailed the strides made by the airline for a more sustainable future and shared the new customer experience features – check out the United app and on United.com. Customers can upload and validate test results, review local entry requirements and store vaccination records.

United Airlines Schedule from Ireland

United flies daily from Dublin to New York/Newark all year round, to Chicago till the end of October (daily) and to Washington throughout Winter 2022 and Summer 2023 (daily). The Shannon to New York/Newark service will continue through to the end of October.

Thanks & Praise

ITAA President, Paul Hackett, thanked the members of the trade and praised their efforts in recent years. Michael Collins also addressed the audience (thanks for the ITTN shout-out!) and highlighted how much he appreciated everyone’s support. He commended his team for their hard work in delivering a fantastic event which was clearly well-deserved. Finally, I’ll add mine – many thanks to Santa Monica for kindly inviting me to join them at their table.

Shane Cullen
Shane Cullen
Shane Cullen has been managing director of a media production studio for nearly 20 years working on projects for a global clientele. He has worked in the travel industry for over a decade and as a travel journalist since 2015. He is passionate about travel, film & photography. He also has a keen interest in emerging technology.


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