Wow, time really does fly! Back in May I talked briefly about a sports-themed consumer show I had coming up, as well as my excitement about attending Travel Weekly’s Cruise World in Seattle. Well, both events are behind me now, thankfully. I’m not sure what I was thinking, as they were days apart from each other. For Cruise World I flew into Seattle on Monday and returned home Thursday, only to spend all day Friday prepping for the show, and all day Saturday working the show. Needless to say, Sunday was a blur.
Cruise World was excellent. There were quite a few outstanding speakers and panelists (including our very own Steve Cousino and Nolan Burris). Every session I went to was excellent; I walked out of every one with great notes, tips, and ideas to implement in my business. I was also able to participate in one-on-one appointments with about a dozen suppliers during the Exhibit Hall hours. I would highly recommend taking advantage of any type of one-on-one supplier interaction if you are given the opportunity. Although the appointments were short, I learned quite a bit about suppliers I’d never dealt with before (some I had never heard of before), and solidified relationships with suppliers I’ve been using for a while.
The best part of any conference I attend is the personal networking with other travel agents, and Cruise World was no exception. There was a core group of us that formed rather quickly as soon as we landed in Seattle. We took every opportunity that we had to meet during “down time” when no show activities were scheduled. We brain stormed, we shared best practices, we vented, and we celebrated successes. I even got some last minute ideas that I implemented at the consumer show after I returned home from Seattle.
The consumer show was a mixed bag. While talking to other vendors that had participated before, attendance was way down this year; likely due to moving the show from February to June. Although show attendance was low, I think my booth did well. I was the only travel agent participating in the show, and I had Royal Caribbean’s official participation. Besides helping with the cost, my BDM sent me a “fabric screen” (stands about 10 feet high) to use in the booth, and some items to include in the drawing giveaway.
I also arranged to have a couple of massage therapists in the booth. They did chair massages for a suggested $1 a minute donation (to support a local charity). I was playing off the fact that many cruise ships and resorts have spas, and it was well received. It definitely helped to draw foot traffic to the booth, and the therapists were very happy with their results as well.
It’s too early to confirm how successful it will ultimately be for me. But the prospects are good. I found a golf pro interested in escorting golf groups, several honeymoon requests, a family wanting a major trip to China, interest in several group cruises, about a dozen individual vacation requests (one has already followed up to start the booking process), and another contact with the Nashville Predators. I’m definitely not complaining.
Next Up? This month will be spent fervently following up on my show leads, as well as following up on all of the great ideas from Cruise World, and getting them implemented!
Susan Schaefer is the owner of Ships N Trips Travel as well as niche operations trading as Kick Butt Vacations, focused on college students; Kick Butt Events focusing on fundraising; and Your Kiwi Specialist specializing in anything New Zealand. You can reach Susan by email at email@example.com.