I just got back from Cruise3Sixty and I am more motivated than ever. I am convinced the travel profession is the only place I want to be. While I learned a tremendous amount, the biggest lesson I took away was that I don’t know nearly as much as I’d like to about the travel industry. Now don’t get me wrong, I knew I was a novice and I recognized my need for additional training, but this really is no industry for posers or pretenders. There really is a lot to keep up with in order to succeed; both as a business person and as a service provider. That is assuming a person has a genuine desire for true success.
Training and seminars can be very time consuming (and costly) during these economic times. But they shouldn’t be considered an expendable part of your overall budget. It is just as important to the bottom line as marketing and operations. A travel consultant that is well informed and well trained is better able to demonstrate the value of choosing a professional over purely web-based choices. And that’s good for business in any economic climate.
This was my first Cruise3Sixty and I was shocked at how much could be crammed into so little time. There were classes and seminars, panel discussions and trainings and of course, ship inspections. There were so many ships but precious little time to see or experience what made each one unique. In fact, somewhere there may be passengers recently back from a cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas still talking about the crazed woman with the camera running through the corridors shouting, “I only have an hour!”
CLIA put together an event that gave me hundreds of ideas, many more than I could possibly successfully implement in the next eight months, but I certainly plan to try. As I look back on my experience, one of the biggest lessons I learned didn’t come from the seminars or discussions. They came from the tradeshow floor. That was where I met vendors and suppliers. These were people who spoke with great passion about their product. Whose enthusiasm and “joie de vivre” was infectious. They made me want to know more about what they had to offer and more importantly made me excited to tell my clients about what they had to offer. Plus, I now have contacts and faces that I personally know to help me grow my business.
But that wasn’t the most important lesson. The suppliers I met had that passion in spite of that fact that most will never know whether I have ever made a sale for them. Delegates to 3Sixty come from all over the country and Canada and most were outside the regions for the BDMs that were manning the floor. These delegates will go home and contact their BDM who will get credit for the sale. But that doesn’t stop these representatives from communicating the value of their respective companies. As a travel consultant, I have to represent the value of the travel profession at all times. It may not mean a sale for me now but it increases the value of the industry I love. And with continued training, passion and professionalism, I just might make someone want to find out more about what I have to offer too.
Nia Frieson is the owner of LK Cruises and Tours, LLC based in Washington, DC. For more information, you can contact Nia at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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