It was two days of learning, strategies and awards as the 2018 edition of Travel MarketPlace East welcomed agents and suppliers to Toronto.
The annual show, hosted this year at the Westin Harbour Castle, drew Canadian travel industry reps from near and far for a series of presentations and breakout sessions, along with plenty of networking opportunities. The Vancouver edition of the show was held in March. The two-day event in Toronto continued today (May 23) with a trade show and additional presentations.
Here are some takeaways from day one of the show:
From left: Karen Scott Caplice, director - business development, Travel Edge; Laura Furst, ITA program manager, Vision Travel; Carl Henderson, personal travel consultant
Tips for independent contractors
According to Karen Scott Caplice of Travel Edge, when it comes to the experience of working outside of a traditional office setting, “it’s all about you.”
“It’s up to you to do the research on what it is you need from a host agency,” she said. “And it’s up to you research whether your host is the right fit. You need to find your specialty and which host fits you best.”
Laura Furst, ITA program manager with Vision Travel, added that for those new to the home-based agent model, it pays to do some soul-searching.
“Are you prepared to take off the bunny slippers and treat it like a professional business? Also, do you have an established network you can start with? If not, it’s probably not the right approach for you.”
For Carl Henderson, an experienced home-based agent, it pays to hire out administrative and accounting work which can detract from making sales. As well, while most transactions are carried out by email or phone nowadays, making the personal connection with clients by meeting in person occasionally can make a difference.
Agents & BDMs: building the relationship
Collaboration and communication are key when it comes to the relationship between agents and business development managers.
It’s a two-way street according to a panel talk on the subject: while BDMs need to reach out and visit the agents in their territory, agents also need to reach out and explain what they need from their BDMs.
Rob Blowes, owner of CWT Blowes Travel & Cruise Centre in Stratford, Ontario, said that for his agents, planning out meetings – including detailed meeting agendas – with BDMs has helped grow these relationships.
Planning also pays off when it comes to securing co-op marketing dollars from suppliers, the panel said, from stating actual and projected travel sales to detailed proposals on how the money will be spent.
“At the end of the day, it comes down to how strong your proposal is – when you ask for, say, $1,000, that equals a certain amount of business,” said panel moderator Scott Koepf, senior vice-president of sales for Cruise Planners. “And there’s going to be more co-op money if you have written annual plans for that spend.”
Marketing online and with social media
Agents also got some tips from social media experts on how to promote their brand to the world, both through having an engaging web and social media presence. Sandra Cottam McLemore of Village Girl Marketing said that eye-catching imagery, a large collection of content and accessibility are key when it comes to a website that will convert views into sales.
“Treat it like a 24/7 storefront,” she said. “It’s your visual brand representation and the source from which you’ll build your email list. You need to obsess over the message your sending to your audience.”
Vanessa McGovern of Global Institute For Travel Entrepreneurs (GIFTE) gave attendees a walkthrough of how the Facebook Live tool can help promote their business on the popular social network. In addition to an ideal broadcast time of between 10 and 15 minutes, McGovern reminded agents that when using Facebook Live, always post from a business page as opposed to a personal one.
The presentation of the Gerald Heifetz Trailblazer Award: (from left) Wendy Paradis, president, ACTA; Laura Ranieri, daughter of Gerald Heifetz; Flemming Friisdahl, president & founder, The Travel Agent Next Door; Steve Goodfellow, director of sales - Eastern Canada, Air Canada.
ACTA & Air Canada Awards
Six members of the Canadian travel industry were awarded for their contributions by the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA) in partnership with Air Canada. Among this year’s winners were:
- Leisure Travel Agent Award: Marion Primeau, manager, Sportcorp Travel
- Corporate Travel Agent Award: Nour Elzaim, team lead, Vision Travel
- Ches Chard Award: Penny Martin, VP, The Travel Agent Next Door
- Maguire-Wamsley Award: Ian Kalinowsky, president & owner, Great Canadian Travel Group
- Tomorrow’s Leader Award: Lauren Harris, manager, Orion Travel/Voyageur Travel
- Gerald Heifetz Trailblazer Award: Flemming Friisdahl, president & founder, The Travel Agent Next Door