Jennifer Fernandez, holding the title of Vice President of Events and Content for Specialty Travel Forums, a Division of Travel Show Marking Group, has an extensive background in producing highly-effective travel tradeshows and events. With over 20 year of experience in the industry, Jennifer has led many initiatives in launching and repositioning events catering to both the MICE and travel agent channels, touching upon every aspect from sales, marketing, content and engagement. Jennifer has previously worked for major tradeshow companies, where she was responsible for the entire leisure travel event portfolio. Jennifer is focused on the Specialty Travel Forum’s goal of growing its collection of specialized programs in the travel agent community.
Travel Research Online (TRO): Was there anything specifically about travel and the travel industry that drew you in, and influenced you to want to work in the field?
Jennifer Fernandez (JF): Travel is one of the most rewarding and influential experiences you can possibly have. Whether it’s a new place, new faces, culture or food, there’s always something to discover. I couldn’t imagine being in another industry, so I’m thankful travel found me. I always wanted to be a writer, so I have a creative mind. I’m thankful travel feeds my creativity and helps me think outside the box, especially when putting together unique events experiences.
TRO: You currently hold the title of Vice President of Events and Content for Specialty Travel Forums, which is a division of Travel Show Marketing Group. Can you tell us what your day-to-day looks like? What do some of your responsibilities include? Is each day different from the last?
JF: It’s all a balancing act, and I can honestly say, every day brings something new. There are so many moving pieces to putting together events, so my “hat” is always changing. Sales, marketing, social media, content development, staying current, logistics, developing new and fun initiatives – it really is a mixed bag and it’s great, because it’s never monotonous. And it’s even better when you get to see the end result!
TRO: With over 20 years of experience in the field, you have quite an extensive background in producing travel trade shows and events. Can you give us some insight to that process? How long do they take to organize? Is it different for each show?
JF: There are so many factors to take into consideration, so for that reason, I would say that we are always in plan mode. However, realistically I would say event cycle is a full year process. While our company has two categories of events (boutique vs. large-scale tradeshow), we are always looking to offer dynamic event experiences that translate to professional and financial growth. Our concentration ranges from logistics, to developing unique content, networking experiences, fun factors of course, and everything else that translates to new opportunities for our partners.
TRO: At previous companies you were responsible for the entirety of the leisure travel event portfolio. What did these types of events entail? Were they all agent and company based?
JF: My first position in tradeshows and conferences was as a registration coordinator for events that catered to corporate travel managers and meeting planners. My role has changed dramatically over the years, and I’ve spent nearly 20 years now (wow) producing events for the leisure travel agent channel, which as you can imagine has really evolved over that time. I’ve been fortunate to carve out a great career in doing what I love most, putting together events of all sizes with the primary goal of engaging suppliers and sellers for maximum success.
TRO: The Specialty Travel Forums division currently includes the Romance Travel Forums and Family Travel Adviser Forum, though there are plans to grow the collection. Are there any sectors of travel you plan on focusing on? Is there demand for a particular forum?
JF: I’m really a big believer in specialization – a) why not focus on a niche that your passionate about (as long as you have the client base of course) and b) specialization is an agents unique proposition. So, yes of course, we’re always looking to explore and expand into other markets and work with partners to help develop their niche focused business.
TRO: With tradeshows and events taking place all over, there must be a lot of travel involved. Do you have a “dream location” that you hope to hold an event at one day? Do you have a location, personally, that you have always wanted to travel to?
JF: That’s a tough question. I’ve been in the unique position to host events in all points of the US, the Caribbean, Mexico, Hawaii and Europe, so I’m pretty fortunate to personally have experienced these destinations multiple times, when many people can only dream of visiting once in a lifetime. I have a huge bucket list of lifetime travel dreams, it ranges from the Amalfi Coast, to Japan to Iceland to the Galapagos to places right here in the US. I want to go everywhere, and hopefully, I will!
TRO: On the other side of the spectrum, do you have a location you have traveled to that you would consider your favorite?
JF: I think every destination is unique so I have favorite moments that I take away from every vacation. I love the laid-back island vibe, and I love the hustle and bustle of the city life. Maybe I can honestly answer that question in about 20 years when I’ve hit all the destinations on my bucket list!
TRO: What can we expect to see from Travel Show Marketing Group this year? Anything especially exciting you can tell us about?
JF: So much – we’ll just have to wait and see! 😊