Laura Del Rosso
Laura Del Rosso

Understanding how the millennial generation buys travel will increasingly become important to home-based travel agents wanting to ensure their services remain valuable in the years ahead. That's why Ken Gagliano, president of Travel Planners International, is addressing the issue in the program content at the host agency's annual conference, TPI Extravaganza 2015, scheduled for Sept. 23 to 27 in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. “Millennials make up one-fourth of the U.S. population and are the only demographic that is planning to travel more next year,” Gagliano said in an email interview. “And, the most interesting fact about millennials is that traditional methods of advertising have proven ineffective in capturing their attention.”

Travel agents may be in a strong position to serve this generation, he said.

“Millennials believe advertising is just a spin and not authentic. That's why they prefer on-demand or recorded programming so that they can skip commercials. Shockingly, they avoid banner advertisements on websites, including Facebook. They review blogs before making a purchase because they perceive blogs to be authentic. … Agents are real people with invaluable experience, expert advice. Blogging about their passion for travel will lead to successfully tapping into this huge audience.”

Another trend that the conference program will cover is agent specialization.

“The trend we are seeing is that agents are starting to understand the power of specializing and niche-ing their business,” Gagliano said. “The more focused they are on who they want to serve, the easier it is for them to brand themselves and to dive deeper into educating themselves and their clients on the various product offerings through our preferred partners.”

This year's conference is designed with the theme “Mission Possible: Conceive It, Believe It, Achieve It” and has a revamped format.

“Our 2015 conference takes a totally different approach to content and learning compared to what's out there in the marketplace,” Gagliano said in a statement. “Forget routine supplier updates and speakers who may not always connect with the crowd. Our conference audience is made up of small business entrepreneurs, so we've packed the program with experts who have 'been there, done that' and will share those game-changing experiences to help our agents grow their bottom line.”

Travel Planners, which has nearly 3,000 independent agent members, is expecting to draw about 400 agents and 100 suppliers to its conference.

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