Beci Mahnken: GTM is not your average industry event

Beci Mahnken, owner of MEI-Travel in Issaquah, Wash., is a member of the 2018 Global Travel Marketplace (GTM) Advisory Board and has benefited greatly from attending the event. She came to GTM West for the first time in 2016, and her business has been growing ever since.

GTM and GTM West are elite, appointment-only, fully subsidized events that connect top-producing travel advisers in North America with global travel suppliers in rapid-fire, one-on-one meetings; exclusive boardroom presentations; and a variety of networking opportunities. This intimate, boutique-style event supports the best travel professionals in the business, encouraging them to grow their global book of business and deliver memorable vacations for their clients.

Travel advisers attending GTM must be booking at least $1 million or own a multimillion-dollar agency. All attendees must have the authority to make product and partner decisions, have a global book of business, the desire to meet with and discover new suppliers and destinations and be able to provide three travel industry references. The events are produced by Travel Weekly parent company Northstar Travel Group.

GTM will be held at The Diplomat Beach Resort in Hollywood/Fort Lauderdale, Florida July 12 through 14. Travel advisers who are selected to attend are fully hosted, including airfare, hotel, and all meals during the event.

Mahnken first applied on the recommendation of one of her advisers, who had "returned from her first GTM and couldn't stop talking about it. She raved about being able to network with like-minded professionals and top-notch suppliers in a truly meaningful way." Referrals like Mahnken are what makes GTM so special; in 2017, 80% of first-time GTM attendees were referrals, and 60% of GTM West first-timers were referrals, and the GTM events team would love to see GTM be a 100% referral program, with top producers recommending it as a must-attend for their fellow successful travel professional friends and colleagues.

"We all attend conferences that require you to work to get someone to talk to you over a six-foot table full of brochures, or around a crowd of agents who are more interested in the free pens than having an in-depth conversation about how we can do business together," Mahnken said. "GTM is anything but the same old tradeshow. It's a must-do."

Mahnken found her first GTM West event to be so beneficial to her business that she returned as an Ambassador in 2017. First-time attendees are offered this unique opportunity to be a mentor to new travel advisers at GTM the following year. Only 20% of attendees are accepted to return as part of the Ambassador program. This year, Mahnken will attend GTM in Fort Lauderdale as a member of the advisory board and as testament to the growth GTM can bring to a business.

"GTM has truly changed my business," she said. "This event brings together the best people, the best products and the best suppliers in an environment that encourages focused engagement centered on the needs of your business. 

"I firmly believe that knowledge is power, and relationships are the key to success in this industry. GTM has the power to transform you into a true travel professional who knows how to craft unique, customized experiences for your clients."

Mahnken has had massive successes with many suppliers, large and small, including Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, Universal Studios Vacations, ShoreTrips, New York City Vacation Packages and other operators and resorts that are lesser known but perfect for her clients' unique requests. "GTM has helped encourage me to really think outside the box when it comes to choosing suppliers for my clients. These connections have resulted in higher sales and happier customers, because we aren't just selling packages off the shelf. We are now combining experiences to customize a vacation that fits each client like a glove."

Mahnken strongly recommends all serious travel professionals apply for GTM right away. "Don't make the mistake of assuming GTM is just like any other industry event out there. My biggest regret is not applying sooner!

"It's so refreshing to attend and event that is so thoroughly vetted in order to ensure every travel adviser and supplier is a perfect fit. Every moment of this event is a treasure full of knowledge and opportunity just waiting to be discovered. Take the leap and apply."

To learn more and to apply, visit www.globaltravelmarketplace.com

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