Travel Weekly is tapping a cross section of industry experts to act as judges this year for its sixth annual Magellan Awards program.
As of press time, the judging panel consisted of six members: Bruce Beckham, the former executive director of Tourism Cares; Peter Greenberg, travel editor for CBS News; John "Johnny Jet" DiScala, travel blogger; Marc Mancini, Marc Mancini Seminars and Consulting; Rudy Maxa, host of the PBS travel show "Rudy Maxa's World"; and Rod McLeod, co-founder of the McLeod Applebaum & Partners management consulting firm.
This year's panel is expected to be expanded to two additional judges to accommodate the anticipated high volume of entries.
The Magellan Awards honors travel suppliers across all sectors for exceptional execution in design, marketing and services. Sector categories are airlines and airports, car rentals, cruise lines, hospitality, online travel services, travel agents and agencies, travel destinations and tour operators.
Contestants don't compete with one another. Rather, they are measured on a point system, which in any given category, could produce many winners of the gold and silver Magellans or could produce none.
Beckham, who retired this month as head of Tourism Cares but remains an executive adviser to the organization's board, sits on the panel for the second time this year.
He said he feels privileged to be a judge because, after 40-plus years in the travel business, "I never cease to be amazed at how innovative some people can be" when selling the travel dream.
"It's fun to see what's done," he said. "The cream rises to the top. When you see it, you know it's good and makes you want to engage."
Even the most jaded of travel professionals, he said, can be excited by some of the Magellan entries.
Mancini has served on the Magellan panel of judges three times previously, but in an earlier life was a film critic for Rolling Stone magazine, where he recalls that he "became used to critiquing the work of others."
Besides, Mancini said, judging the Magellan entries "gives me ideas for use for my own work."
Indeed, besides honoring outstanding work within the industry, the Magellan Awards are intended to spur others to excellence.
In his remarks made at the announcement of the 2012 winners last fall, Travel Weekly Editor in Chief Arnie Weissmann observed that "inspiration is, by definition, contagious," and he applauded the winners for inspiring members of the travel industry.
Prospective contestants should submit their entries by July 19 at TravelWeeklyAwards.com. The judges will assess the entries in time for all winners to be honored on the pages of Travel Weekly's Sept. 30 issue.
Finally, it is worth noting that, to avoid any appearance of bias, the judges do not assess entries from the fields in which they work or have worked.