Travel Weekly's GTM brings agents suppliers together

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Mark Travel Corp. business development managers Mary Trotter and Michelle Payette meet with Lori Spolstra, an independent contractor affiliated with Palm Coast Travel/Adventures by Lori.
Mark Travel Corp. business development managers Mary Trotter and Michelle Payette meet with Lori Spolstra, an independent contractor affiliated with Palm Coast Travel/Adventures by Lori. Photo Credit: Tom Stieghorst

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
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 days.

"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.

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