HOLLYWOOD, Fla. -- The sixth annual Global Travel
Marketplace (GTM) was held here, with the Diplomat Beach Resort once again
serving as host hotel.
The boutique trade show hosted by Travel Weekly matches
dozens of travel suppliers with more than 100 elite travel agents for three
days of appointments and presentations.
This year's show ran through Sunday morning.
Alicia Evanko-Lewis, senior vice president events for the
Northstar Travel Group, lauded the event's format at a breakfast meeting as
unique in the industry for its efficiency, productivity and for the recognition
it provides agents.
Over the course of the event, the agent attendees engage in
a series of 6-minute appointments that they arrange with suppliers, ranging
from cruise lines and hotel companies to international destinations such as
Tourism New Zealand.
This year, the conference featured about 130 North American
agents and an equal number of suppliers, Evanko-Lewis said. Northstar runs a
similar but smaller event called GTM West in the spring that is reserved for
agents in states and Canadian provinces in the west.
Agents have to earn more than $1 million in sales to qualify
and only 30% can repeat from one year to the next.
Lorraine Simpson, co-owner of Concierge Travel Group, Foothill, Ontario, designed her booth display at Global Travel Marketplace around a wine tour that won a Magellan Award from Travel Weekly Photo Credit: Tom Stieghorst
In a large conference room, suppliers and agents sit at
small tables across from each other. Suppliers rotate every six minutes through
their appointments with agents, yielding a total of 54 appointments over two
"It's been very helpful," said Lori Spolstra, a
Lowell, Mich., independent contractor affiliated with Palm Coast
Travel/Adventures by Lori. "I wish we had longer [with each supplier],"
she said, adding "It's a good base for continued contact in the future."
Michelle Payette, a business development manager in
Wisconsin for Mark Travel, said her meeting with Spolstra was productive
because as an agent from Michigan, Spolstra can take full advantage of Mark
Travel's charter program.
Payette said she was also able to answer questions about the
recent Mark Travel merger with Apple Vacations.
This year, Evanko-Lewis said agents have been given more
tools to quickly turn their experience at GTM into connections and new business
from clients. These include videos and cut-and-snip social media postings that
let agents share what they've learned with clients.