Last week I attended the Home-Based Travel Agent Forum in Miami. The event was hosted by OSSN and was very well attended by both newer and more established agents. I attend my fair share of travel tradeshows every year, but thought the agents who came out to this event were particularly engaged.
On Monday morning, I spoke on a panel focusing on Business Tools to Build Success. I was joined by Darla Garber of Client Ease and Liz Badras of CCRA. This panel was early on the first day of the conference so I wasn’t certain how the attendance would be, but to my delight, we had a packed, standing room-only house. There was no free cruise to win for attending - the agents who came to listen were there to learn how to expand their business, period. The session was very interactive and the agents had tons of questions for us, which was an indicator of how passionate they are about their business.
Over a two-day period, and with Tropical Storm Nicole blowing through Miami, I got to meet and speak with hundreds of agents at the Tripology booth who were either registered Tripologists who wanted to share their success stories or agents who’d been at my panel and were interested in Tripology. I even had an agent whose business is sustained solely by the Tripology program who wanted to join me behind the booth to help spread the Tripology gospel – how great is that!?
Some key takeaways:
· Yes, attending travel conferences is expensive but the agents I met looked at this expense as an opportunity to learn how to grow their business, not simply a nice-to-do activity.
· I met zero agents who were down in the dumps about the economy or the travel business – how refreshing! The mood was very positive and OSSN did a great job presenting informative sessions.
· Being affiliated with a good, supportive, technology-savvy host agency is crucial, or so I was told dozens of times by agents.
· Home-based agents who’ll make it in the industry are constantly learning about new products, hot destinations and new ways to be more efficient, shouldn’t you be?
· Using a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool to interact with clients and keep track of sold trips is essential – only about 40% of the agents who attended my panel were using one.
Attending this conference was invigorating for me and I urge you to attend some travel events before the end of the year, whether it is a local event backed by a travel association or a larger, an online event / webinar or an out-of-town conference – get out there and absorb as much as you can because other agents are.