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.”
Brandon 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.