Today in Events: Experiential Travel Will be Even More Important this Year Than Before, United Airlines Encourages Mile Donations to Help Australia, NAACP Image Awards to Feature Tough Entertainer of the Year Competition

1. EXPERIENTIAL TRAVEL WILL BE EVEN MORE IMPORTANT THIS YEAR THAN BEFORE: As the nation settles into the new year, what travel trends are in store for 2020? The biggest expectation is that travelers will work harder than ever to forge connections to places, and destinations likely will amp up their efforts to make their cities and states more memorable and experiential. Additionally, road warriors—and occasional explorers—can expect to see lower airfares, and a greater focus on ways to reduce travel’s carbon footprint. Newsweek: “Perhaps because some tourism markets are flooded with tourists, many travelers are looking to make a real connection with a place—something that can't often be done when it's saturated with visitors. ‘One thing I think we'll see in 2020 is that people are really looking for connections and local interaction when they travel,’ said Andrea Ross, the director of tour operator Wild Frontiers. ‘Experiences have become the new luxury item with taking classes, meeting local people, and just more immersive travel experiences being a huge trend.’"

2. UNITED AIRLINES ENCOURAGES MILE DONATIONS TO HELP AUSTRALIA: As wildfires continue ravaging Australia, United Airlines is lending a hand with the relief effort. The carrier is offering all MileagePlus members up to 1,000 miles if they donate at least $50 to the relief efforts on United’s GlobalGiving page through February 5. That is in addition to the $250,000 United pledged to Ellen DeGeneres’s GoFundMe campaign on Wednesday. Luc Bondar, the airline’s MileagePlus vice president who is also from Australia, wrote in a letter to members that he is watching the wildfires “with a heavy heart.” Travel + Leisure: “'The loss of civilian and volunteer firefighters' lives, the destruction of homes and livelihoods, and the threat to the natural beauty and unique wildlife that's beloved by locals and travelers alike is tragic. Now more than ever, Australia needs our help,' Bondar wrote. 'I am privileged to be in a position to ask for your support.'"

3. NAACP IMAGE AWARDS TO FEATURE TOUGH ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR COMPETITION: Entertainer of the Year will be a hot contest this year at the NAACP Image Awards, for which the nominees were announced Thursday. Angela Bassett, Billy Porter, Lizzo, Regina King, and Tyler Perry are all in contention for the honor, which will be handed down during a February 22 ceremony. Lizzo received six total nominations, while Bassett, Porter, and King pulled in additional nominations for acting. Still, all that talent was bested by another performer. Variety: “Beyonce tops the nominations with eight nods across all categories—earning nods for variety (series or special), documentary (television – series or special), album for her Netflix documentary Homecoming’s live album, as well as honors for The Lion King. Blue Ivy Carter [Beyonce’s daughter] also earned an outstanding collaboration nom for appearing on the track Brown Skin Girl for Beyonce’s The Lion King: The Gift album."