Along the many roles you take on as a travel professional comes your part in a larger community of other travel planners, suppliers and service providers. Playing an active role in your professional community affords the possibility for new growth. Unfortunately, many travel planners seldom attend a trade show or travel conference. No doubt, the time and expense involved in travel and accommodations are often considerable. Yet, trade shows provide travel agents with an excellent opportunity to meet suppliers, learn about new product and to hear first-hand industry thinkers and peers. When I attend a trade show or conference I inevitably return revitalized and filled with new ideas and insights.
It’s not hard to understand the value of mixing with others in your profession. Too often, we think only competitively about our peers. But some of the most rewarding experiences result from sharing ideas with others whose knowledge and experience may be no greater but merely different from your own. Our particular industry provides some excellent opportunities to congregate.
The face-to-face experiences inherent in a trade show are very valuable to a professional travel counselor. Strong supplier relationships are key to a thriving travel practice, and there is no substitute for meeting a supplier representative in person to take the measure of his or her company. Old friendships can be renewed and strengthened by the encounters at a trade show. The seminars and discussion panels at trade shows can be very important, especially when the trade show promoter takes seriously the needs of their agency constituency. The new perspectives, inspiration and motivation provided by a good trade show or conference are hard to over-estimate. If you can attend one this year, do so. Among other opportunities:
- CLIA’s Cruise3Sixty – Vancouver, June 19 – 23, 2013
- Travel Weekly – Ft. Lauderdale, November 6 – 10
- Home Based Travel Agent Forum – Las Vegas, April 30 – May 1, 2013 and Orlando, Florida, Disney Coronado Resort – October 28th – 30th.
By the way – take as many of your office associates with you as possible. The shared information and recollection will greatly benefit your office upon your return. Your staff is almost certain to come away from any of these trade shows charged with a new perspective and enthusiasm. Take the time to study the exhibitors and the speakers at a trade show this year and set your sites on attending at least one of them.
Like travel trade shows, online communities for travel agents provide important peer companionship and socialization. In a good community, agents find others who are living through very similar experiences on a daily basis. The participants can learn from each other, assist with research and simply blow off steam in a private, professional setting. Some agents merely “lurk”, quietly reading information and absorbing the accumulated wisdom of the masses. Others participate fully, giving and taking assistance. The sense of companionship and relationships formed are particularly important when so many agents find themselves in down-sized offices or working alone.
Two worthwhile travel agent communities are TRO’s own Community and Tom and Joanie Ogg’s Home Based Travel Agent Community. Both require registration and are travel agent only. Once registered your profile is reviewed, so it takes a few moments to be fully admitted to the private agent-only areas.
Inspiration involves real work. As Thomas Edison famously said, genius is “one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.” You are fortunate that the travel industry provides excellent opportunities for interaction with peers and suppliers. You are well advised, as a professional, to avail yourself of those opportunities.
“The miracle is this – the more we share, the more we have.” – Leonard Nimoy