Introducing ExecConnect

Every few months, for years now, I'll receive an email from an agent asking me if the magazine has any plans to bring back the TravelAge West trade shows By: Kenneth Shapiro
Kenneth Shapiro
Kenneth Shapiro

Every few months, for years now, I'll receive an email from an agent asking me if the magazine has any plans to bring back the TravelAge West trade shows, which were extremely popular events in their day. While the idea of another live show has been tempting, we had resisted creating another conference. There are already plenty of travel shows in the industry, and few, if any, seem to provide worthwhile business opportunities and advice. Too many organizations seem to think bigger is better, so events grow too large and faceless -- leaving agents wondering where the top executives are and suppliers bitter because they don't meet "worthwhile" agents. So our challenge was to come up with a show that was different as well as truly productive.

In this issue's cover story, Travel Agents Participate in Business Development Event, you can read about TravelAge West's first-ever ExecConnect Elite Agent Symposium. The four-day event, held earlier this month onboard Holland America Line's Zuiderdam, was designed to bring together a select group of agents with top-level executives from leading travel companies for educational opportunities and networking. The main components of ExecConnect were general sessions built around business development themes, educational workshops and a supplier-agent marketplace that gave both groups opportunities to get to know each other.

I'm happy to report that the response from the show has been overwhelmingly positive for both agents and suppliers. I'm especially proud of one question in particular on our post-event survey. When asked "Do you think you will get more business as a result of this conference?" 100 percent of respondents -- both agents and suppliers -- said 'yes.' To me, that's the ultimate success. After all, if we can help agents and suppliers do more business, then we've accomplished our mission.

Once you've read the story in this issue, you can learn more about ExecConnect. For photos from the event, visit our Facebook page and for videos of the general sessions visit us on YouTube.
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