Global Travel Marketplace West, or GTM West, last week returned to The Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa in Tucson, Ariz., for its third year, gathering travel agents and suppliers for networking and industry education.
Of the 800 agents who applied, only 80 were selected to join the prestigious and fully hosted event powered by TravelAge West and Travel Weekly. A record 100 suppliers attended this year, including sponsors Discover, Exclusive Group Travel, Le Meridien, Mexico Tourism Board, Norwegian Cruise Line, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, The Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa, Tourism Ireland, Travel Alberta and Visit Tucson.
Mirroring the model of previous years, the event agenda included small-group boardroom presentations, during which suppliers shared a 30-minute overview of their product with agents in an intimate, interactive setting. Agents also had up to 50 quick-fire, one-on-one appointments with suppliers that lasted about six minutes per session.
At events such as the welcome reception at Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch Resort, sponsored by Visit Tucson, and the Starwood Hotels & Resorts-sponsored dinner reception at The Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa, attendees continued to actively engage in networking.
"From day one, GTM West has been about making valuable connections that empower our attendees to succeed together, to forge new relationships and, most important, to conduct business,” said Alicia Evanko-Lewis, senior vice president of events for the Travel Group, for Northstar Travel Group. “And we’ve already had advisors and suppliers tell us they’ve closed deals while on-site, illustrating the results-driven nature of GTM West."
This year’s GTM West introduced the elite GTM Advisory Board; members in attendance included Deb Fogarty of Be Well Travel and Geoff Millar of Ultimate All Inclusive Vacations.
Danielle Stephens, a travel agent for Harmon Travel and a GTM Ambassador, praised GTM West for its effective model of limiting agents who can attend. “At GTM West, suppliers sit down and already have questions they want to ask agents, such as how they can get their business — it’s really neat,” Stephens said. “At other events, you don’t get that. Suppliers don’t know who you are; they really have only a few seconds to figure out who 200 or 300 people are.”
Further demonstrating the success of GTM West is its recent accolade of a 2016 Silver Stevie Award in the Best Brand Experience Event category from American Business Awards. Among a pool of more than 3,400 nominations representing a multitude of industries, GTM West was selected for the honor by more than 250 professionals worldwide.
GTM is still accepting applications for its flagship event, which will be held in Hollywood, Fla., from Aug. 21 to 23 at the Diplomat Resort & Spa Hollywood, a Curio Collection by Hilton.
The next GTM West, meanwhile, will take place May 18 through 20, 2017, and it will move to a new location at the Westin Lake Las Vegas Resort & Spa in Henderson, Nev.
Valerie Chen is an associate editor at TravelAge West.