"Coming back out of the pandemic, the world has figured out what this room has known all along, that a spectacular vacation experience is best served in the hands of travel advisors," said Geraldine Ree, emcee of this year's Travel Market Place West, addressing an audience of nearly 350 travel advisors and suppliers attending the two-day conference at the Parq Vancouver – the largest ever TMP West for Travel Market Report.
"We've always known it, but prior to the pandemic we had to deal with the rhetoric of 'travel agents, is that still a thing?' No more. The secret is out."
Travel advisors at the conference, including the 60 invitation-only advisors who participated in the three-hour Ambassador Program the night before the conference began, would agree. The secret is out and business is booming.
Despite being swamped, advisors and suppliers took time out of their busy schedules to attend the two-day conference, which is packed with general session panels on tours and cruising, along with informational workshops on marketing, selling, product knowledge and more.
"I like that it's local," one advisor who participated in the Ambassador Program told TMR, adding it's not often that Western Canadian advisors get to meet sales reps who are actually based in the West.
Other advisors said they return year after year to TMP West for the networking with other advisors and for the educational takeaways they get from the panels and the workshops.
Tips for a Successful Conference
Takeaways you can act on right away should be a priority for attendees, Ree said during her opening remarks, and offered the audience tips on how to make the most of their time.
"Be a creator, not a consumer," she said, pointing out how important it is to approach conferences with intention. "You are not in the passenger seat."
Start, she said, with the intention of walking away with up to 20 ideas that you will take a first step on. As you listen to speakers, asterisk anything that you want to act no. Note down who said it and what the first step you need to take is.
A second tip she offered is to "bring" your ideal clients with you. Have their needs in mind when you meet with suppliers.
"It's really easy to put yourself as the hero of the story," she said. "In fact, it's almost impossible not to. Oh, I want to do that one. Ooh, that's looks good, I want to try that. We forget about our clients at home… when you do the trade show, say 'I have these clients and they're looking for something really special, what do you have?' It changes the conversation, because you have someone specific in mind."