GTM West provides forum for agent-supplier talks

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TUSCON, Ariz. — Travel Weekly and TravelAge West's inaugural Global Travel Marketplace West, a West Coast spinoff of last year’s elite-agent event in Fort Lauderdale, was a reminder that even successful agents can extend their supplier network.

During the course of the event, which was held May 2 through 4 at the Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa, 76 travel sellers representing more than $160 million in travel sales met with 77 global suppliers in small-group boardroom sessions and one-on-one, seven-minute meetings. (Click here for a slideshow of images from the event.)

“It’s really good learning about some vendors who weren’t on my radar,” said Carolyne Brandon, an independent contractor with Altour/American Express in Cupertino, Calif. “Being able to talk to them during one-on-one sessions is so nice versus a tradeshow where there is always someone right in the vendor’s face talking and talking so you can’t even get your question in.”

GTM West one-on-one sessionsBrandon added that in addition to discovering new vendors, it is important for agents to remain up-to-date on the products they already sell.

To attend the fully hosted event, West Coast travel agents had to complete a rigorous application process that included a long-form interview, supplier referrals and proof of annual travel sales of at least $800,000.

Planning and production by the GTM staff, including an opening celebration at the Pima Air & Space Museum that involved skydivers, meant that the event ran smoothly.

As a result, agents were able to focus on business, which was the goal, according to Alicia Evanko-Lewis, vice president of events of the travel group for Northstar Travel Media, which includes Travel Weekly.

Some agents set up business with vendors following their small-group boardroom presentations and one-on-one meetings.

“I’ve not been very happy with my air consolidator, and I heard Hariworld’s presentation during the appointments,” said Donna Alkarmi, owner of Lone Star Travel in McKinney, Texas. “I liked what they had to say, and I set up an account with them. These are the kind of connections I need.”

GTM will take place in Fort Lauderdale from July 9-11. For more information, or to apply, visit travelweekly.com/live-events.

Next year’s GTM West will take place from May 1 through 3.

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