Gifted Travel Network Director of Partner Relations, Erica Whitaker spent the last week in New York City at the PROUD Experiences. The global luxury event company, International Luxury Travel Market (ILTM) hosts this luxury travel and tourism event designed to bring together industry leaders through education, engagement, and connections.

You may be wondering, so what exactly are the PROUD Experiences? Lucky for us, Erica was able to give us a recap from her experience during this three-day event below:

Meetings & Networking Opportunities

Each day, there were multiple time slots for pre-scheduled meetings. Most meetings were done speed dating style, but there was an opportunity for casual anytime meetings as well. I was able to meet with Auberge, Hilton, Hyatt, IHG, Kerzner International, and Marriott.

The opening ceremony, evening networking session, and closing party were designed for networking. The atmosphere, conversation, and good company made this time truly amazing. During this time I was able to meet up with two GTN advisors also in attendance, Jenny Park and Lange Taylor!

Erica, Jenny and Lange
Pictured above (from left to right) Erica Whitaker, Lange Taylor, and Jenny Park at the 2022 PROUD Experiences.

Masterclasses & Educational Training Sessions

Besides learning and networking during pre-scheduled meetings, there was the opportunity to attend different educational training sessions and masterclasses. The first training session was a platform for PROUD people of influence to share their life experiences. The second was a workshop-based learning session on how to conduct meaningful and effective conversations in LGBTQ+ travel business meetings.

There were also three masterclasses, each led by either a host or moderator with multiple panelists. These masterclasses included conversations surrounding LGBTQ+ policy in the workforce, current challenges, and opportunities in LGBTQ+ travel, and new trends and perspectives to come.

Overall Experience & Takeaways

This event was very similar to ILTM but was so much more intimate. This allowed you to have open conversations and build important relationships in a smaller setting. If I could describe this experience in one word, it would be amazing. The opportunity to network and have meaningful conversations with destinations and properties on how they are supporting the LGBTQ+ community was so enlightening.

I am thrilled that I not only work for a company that places such a high emphasis on this subject but I am also in an industry that realizes the need for this event. I had such a wonderful week, and I am so proud to be an ally of this community.