Who's who of travel to headline Readers Choice 2020 virtual event

A who's who of the travel industry -- the CEOs of the three largest cruise companies, leaders of prominent travel agency groups, leisure supplier executives and the chief of a Big Three airline -- will be featured during the free, virtual Readers Choice Awards event this Thursday, Dec. 17, beginning at 2 p.m. Eastern (11 a.m. Pacific).

The event is being promoted as "the afternoon the stars came out," and the list of boldface names is lengthy.

Delta CEO Ed Bastian will be interviewed by Travel Weekly editor in chief Arnie Weissmann, as will Carnival

Browse the finalists in each Readers Choice category -- as selected by you, our readers.

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Corp. CEO Arnold Donald; Royal Caribbean Group CEO Richard Fain; Internova CEO J.D. O'Hara; and Audrey Hendley, the president of American Express Travel & Lifestyle Services. Weissmann and his daughter Emma Weissmann, a senior editor at TravelAge West, will interview the father-and-daughter team running Collette, Dan Sullivan and Jaclyn Leibl-Cote.

To register for the free event, click here.

Due to the extraordinary impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the travel industry in 2020, category winners of the Readers Choice Awards will not be announced during this year's program, but in keeping with tradition, Lifetime Achievement Awards will be honored. Recipients this year are:

  • Stanley & Bea Tollman, the husband and wife who are chairman of the Travel Corporation and president of Red Carnation Hotels, respectively. They will be introduced by Virtuoso CEO Matthew Upchurch.
  • Jackie Friedman, the president of Nexion, who will be introduced by Dondra Ritzenthaler, Celebrity Cruises' senior vice president of sales, trade support and services.
  • Avoya co-founders Van and Brad Anderson, who will be introduced by Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings CEO Frank Del Rio.

There will be cameo appearances by cruise line chiefs Michael Bayley of Royal Caribbean International, Christine Duffy of Carnival Cruise Line and Lisa Lutoff-Perlo of Celebrity Cruises, as well as Ama Waterways co-founders Rudi Schreiner and Kristen Karst. 

Leading travel agency executives and advisors will also have some screen time, including Michelle Fee, CEO of Cruise Planners; Alex Sharpe, CEO of Signature Travel Network; Brad and Jeff Tolkin, co-CEOs of World Travel Holdings; Valerie Wilson, CEO of Valerie Wilson Travel; John Lovell, president of Travel Leaders Group; Phil Cappelli, senior vice president of preferred partnerships for Signature; and Jenn Lee, vice president of sales and marketing for Travel Planners International.

Top cruise sales execs Katina Athanasiou of Norwegian Cruise Line, John Chernesky of Princess Cruises, Vicki Freed of Royal Caribbean International, Randall Soy of Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Nikki Upshaw of Oceania will drop in -- as will former Norwegian Cruise Line CEO Andy Stuart and former Holland America Line president Orlando Ashford.

Tour operators in the spotlight will include Brett Tollman, CEO of the Travel Corporation, Paula Hayes, vice president of sales for Globus, and Brennan Quesnele, vice president of sales for Gogo Worldwide Vacations. Playa Resorts will be well represented, with appearances by executive vice president and chief marketing officer Kevin Froemming, vice president of travel industry sales Andrea Wright and senior vice president of sales Howard Tanenbaum.

For more information on how to join this year's Readers Choice event, click here.

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