Samarah Meil // © 2018 Samarah Meil
Samarah Meil, owner of Amarillo Travel Network, LLC, in Amarillo, Texas, is a member of the 2018 Global Travel Marketplace (GTM) Advisory Board and a perfect representative of the many ways GTM can dramatically impact one’s business. She attended GTM West for the first time in 2016 and has been reaping the benefits ever since.
GTM and GTM West are elite, appointment-only events that connect top-producing travel advisors in North America with global travel suppliers in rapid-fire one-on-one meetings, exclusive boardroom presentations and a variety of networking opportunities. This intimate, boutique-style event supports the best travel professionals in the business, encouraging them to grow their books of business and deliver memorable vacations for their clients.
Referrals are crucial to GTM’s success. In 2017, 80 percent of first-time GTM attendees were referrals, and 60 percent of GTM West first-timers were referrals. Meil was no exception to this rule. She was invited to apply by Geoff Millar, owner of Ultimate All-Inclusive Travel, Inc., and one of GTM’s inaugural Advisory Board members. With Millar’s recommendation, Meil researched GTM via its website. While doing so, she came across the Advisory Board members, inclusive of another respected friend and colleague: Donna Alkarmi, owner of Lone Star Travel. Meil reached out to Alkarmi to ask for her opinion on the event and was met with overwhelming enthusiasm.
“She told me, ‘You HAVE to apply!’, so I did!” Meil said.
Once Meil was accepted, she described her initial mood as “nervous excitement.”
“I was so nervous to be among all of these talented professionals and amazing suppliers,” she said. “I’m so thankful that GTM was recommended to me by Geoff and Donna. I’m not sure I would have had the courage to apply on my own for such a prestigious event! Their recommendation gave me the vote of confidence I needed.”
Meil first attended GTM West in 2016 and returned as an Ambassador in 2017. First-time attendees are offered this unique opportunity to be a mentor to new travel advisors at GTM. Only 20 percent of attendees each year are part of the Ambassador Program. This year, she will attend GTM West as a member of the Advisory Board and a shining example of the type of success GTM brings to attendees.
GTM opened many doors for Meil.
“This event really grew my confidence in selling travel,” she said. “I’ve built so many new relationships and feel GTM will benefit my agency for years to come.”
Meil’s agency had always sold a global book of business, but as she expanded and brought in new ICs, she was able to relay the information she learned at the event to them.
“The growth GTM has brought to my agency as a whole has had the biggest impact,” she said. “After having attended GTM, I am now confident enough to pick up the phone and call a BDM from anywhere, and I am able to promote that I truly do sell the whole world.”
Meil even cites more BDMs visiting the tiny town of Amarillo in person since she attended.
“It’s putting us on the map!” she said. “Even if I didn’t meet the exact BDM for my region at the event, I have the contact info to get through to them now. Attending GTM is life changing. Every agent looking to grow their business should apply. To have the opportunity to connect with so many dynamic people is amazing. You get to talk to every single person at the event because it’s so intimate, and you really feel that you are surrounded by serious professionals — all learning about the industry and developing their business relationships. It’s very inspirational.”
Travel advisors attending GTM West must be booking at least $800,000 per year or be the owner of a multimillion-dollar agency. All applicants must live in the qualifying area, which includes the following U.S. states and Canadian provinces/territories: Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Hawaii and Canadian Provinces British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Yukon Territory, Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
GTM attendees must be booking at least $1 million or own a multimillion-dollar agency. All attendees must have the authority to make product and partner decisions, have a global book of business, the desire to meet with and discover new suppliers and destinations, and be able to provide three travel industry references.
GTM West will be held at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas in Las Vegas, May 15-17, and GTM will be held at The Diplomat Beach Resort in Hollywood/Fort Lauderdale, Fla., July 12-14. Applications for both events are now open. Travel advisors who are selected to attend are fully hosted, including airfare, hotel and all meals during the event. To learn more and to apply, visit www.globaltravelmarketplace.com.