Eye on Travel

Radio Guest List –Signature Travel Network’s Annual Conference at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada — December 14, 2019

Peter Greenberg with Alex Sharpe

Locations in this article:  Las Vegas, NV

This week’s broadcast of Eye on Travel comes from the Signature Travel Network Annual Global Summit at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. We’ll have another update on the Boeing 737 Max, which will most likely stay grounded through the second quarter of 2020. Then, a report on what to expect in the world of travel for next year, with Alex Sharpe, President and CEO of Signature Travel Network. Milton Pedraza, CEO of the Luxury Institute, and Clark Massad, Vice President of Global Partnerships for IGLTA, on the evolution of gay and lesbian travel. Then, we’ll take a deep dive into the Las Vegas strip and the latest news on a city constantly reinventing itself with “Flip the Strip” radio host, Melinda Sheckells. There’s all of this and more as Eye on Travel broadcasts from the Signature Travel Network Annual Global Summit at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Peter Greenberg with Alex Sharpe


Click here to listen to the show streaming live from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. ET on Saturday, December 14, 2019.

Have a travel question? Then ask Peter. E-mail him at peter@petergreenberg.com, or tweet your questions to @petersgreenberg (include #AskPeter).


Alex Sharpe, President & CEO of Signature Travel Network, talks about how just going to a country can be a way of giving back because you are putting money into that location’s economy. There are many additional ways to participate and as travel advisors, they are collecting more information on giving back than ever because more travelers are looking at the impact their travel can have on a destination. Before joining Signature he was a part of Kinkos, which taught him two important things: customer service and attention to detail.


Milton Pedraza, CEO of the Luxury Institute, expounds on the definitions of luxury which he feels is about your experience and your return on investment of your time. Then, he dives into different companies’ implementation of sustainable measures, such as soap dispensers instead of individual plastic bottles. He also explains what the Luxury Institute does, which is to act as a think tank and it surveys affluent members around the world so that luxury brands know their target markets.


Clark Massad, Vice President of Global Partnerships for IGLTA, describes the organization’s founders’ mission to utilize travel in dispelling misconceptions and prejudices towards gays and lesbians by presenting the communities in a positive light. There is an undeniable economic element, and it educates brands and locations that gay and lesbian travelers devote a higher percentage of their disposable income towards travel and leisure activities. The impact of LGBTQ+ travel in the U.S. market alone is estimated to be more than $100 trillion. He also addresses that although major cities tend to be welcoming, once you get out of urban areas, many countries are not as accepting and even still criminalize the LGBTQ+ community.


Kareem George, CTA Principal at Culture Traveler, LLC, addresses the rise in exotic travel and his definition of those locations as anything that is not a part of the usual suspects. There’s always travel to Europe, and South America is no longer a new trend. Places like Rwanda, Uganda, and Western Australia are having a surge of travel as people try to travel to locations they have not previously gone. One destination that is having a resurgence is Egypt, which is not a surprise given the amount of historical sites to visit and explore. It’s not just the traditional pyramid spots, there are many lesser-known pyramids to explore and other locations that visitors are now starting to discover.


Matt Cervone, President of Just Cruises & Vacations, explains how he tends to see people planning further in advance for cruise travel. The company develops relationships with its clients over a 20-year period. Travelers are much savvier than they were years ago, they already have an idea of where they want to go and what they want to do before they pick up the phone and call him. He finds that people are looking for an experience. Everyone wants blue water, white sands, and palm trees when they go to the Caribbean, and all the islands provide that so it’s about looking beyond that to fulfill their clients’ needs. He’s found that more people than ever are willing to spend the extra money to have overnights in destinations to get a more in-depth experience of that location. You’re also seeing people look towards adventurous destinations such as the Galapagos over a traditional European or leisure cruise.


Brock Radke, Las Vegas Journalist, talks about the developments in Las Vegas over the last year and what we can expect to see in 2020. One of the biggest changes to the city has been the increase in pro sports teams. The fans are just as crazy about the Golden Knights hockey team, and they are gearing up to welcome the Raiders into a new stadium that is already in construction. Although it’s just getting major league sports teams, it’s always been a sporting town. Then, he discusses the evolving food scene in Las Vegas and how you need to have a great steakhouse and a variety of ethnic food to be a competitive resort.


Melinda Sheckells, Host of “Flip the Strip” radio show, speaks about moving here from Los Angeles and never looking back. She has seen a tremendous shift in the landscape since moving here 13 years ago and how the city sheds its skin much faster than a snake does. Despite the ever-changing nature of the city, she says she hasn’t seen a brand new hotel open on the strip in 10 years. On the horizon, the strip will see two to three major resorts opening, including the Drew and Resorts World. The city has toyed with shutting down the strip to traffic, but for now, driving the strip remains Las Vegas’ best free attraction. She drives down the strip every day and has reached the point of not noticing when the volcano explodes, which signifies her being a true Las Vegas local.


Karen Schragle, Managing Partner at Wayland Travel, speaks about working with alliance carriers so travelers have protection in the long run. She explains how co-chairing works and how they do not fare the same. A New York to London flight listed as an American flight and British Airways flight will have different prices depending on which airline name you book under, even if booking through a third party like Expedia or Orbitz. The same seat on the same flight could cost you hundreds to thousands more depending on which airline you book under. As a travel advisor, she helps people navigate these varying price points with an expert perspective and resources. Her priority is making sure that her customers know what they are buying and that they are getting the best value for their money.


Eric Maryanov, President of All Travel Z, explains the growing trend of luxury cruise expeditions. Travel is always an indicator of the economy and the growth of expedition ships shows that there are people with money who have already been everywhere else. He has clients who are already booking through 2022 and would be booking 2023 if they could. As people start traveling at a younger age, they start to look to more exotic and different locations as they get older. Although the Caribbean will always be a large market, many have now been there and are looking for somewhere new.


Jonathan Ullman, President & Chief Executive Officer of the Mob Museum, speaks about how organized crime comes from all backgrounds and the museum tries to highlight that fact. It has a new space that is an interactive crime lab dedicated to forensic sciences where visitors can try their hand at ballistics investigation, DNA profiling, fingerprint analysis and more. Then, he speaks about its most iconic artifact: a wall from the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. On February 14, 1929, during prohibition, seven infamous members of the Moran gang were lined up against that very wall and shot. It was a turning point in the public perception of mobsters, who most people turned a blind eye to because they still wanted access to liquor and gambling.