While you went about your day-to-day lives, hundreds of Travel Agents & their supplier friends partied the weekend away Shanghai-style.

The host of agency owners and managers congregated in Shanghai for the ninth annual Independent Travel Group and italktravel Forum – although we weren’t there, we still managed to get all the goss & of course, the pics.

Express Travel Group (ETG) Chief Executive, Tom Manwaring, opened the weekend with an update on the group’s growth over the last year, including the addition of 32 new members, an increase in passenger numbers AND an airline revenue rise of 11 percent.


Adam Schwab Luxury Escapes, Tom Manwaring & Michelle Black Viking Cruises.

There was also an incredible double-digit growth in TTV through hotel, cruise and touring sales.

Woot woot- what a year!


Tom also touched on this year’s theme of ‘adaptation’, saying that it’s important for the industry, particularly ETG, to continue investing in technology.

Although he believes technology advancements are important for the business, he did stress that AI and AAI could never replace people.


“Computers can’t be intuitive, they can know everything about me, expect what I’m going to do next.”

Tom Manwaring, ETG Chief Executive

Following Tom, was Jonathan Nelson GM Sales & Marketing who announced the launch of a new online merchant system called ‘Express Pay’ that provides members with an ACS-approved system.


Alisha Dopper, Agency Support Centre Manager then announced the launch of the new Express Rewards loyalty program ‘Elevate’ as well as the revamp of the extensive new Express Academy program, which shows ETGs ongoing commitment to advanced training methods for members.

The evenings will full of celebrations, particularly Saturday night’s Gala Night where the best of the best within the group were celebrated.


The night was capped off with the announcement of next years new conference format and the bringing together of all ETG brands (Select Travel Group, Independent Travel Group and Italktravel) for one annual bigger and better conference to be held in Bangkok from 15-18 August 2019.


See anyone you know partying in Shanghai?