I’m writing this from Cancun, site of this year’s U.S. Tour Operator’s Association Annual Conference & Marketplace. Every year this conference proves to be one of the industry’s most important shows as it brings together all the top companies.
For the last few days, as I spoke to executives here, several themes kept emerging. For one, it seems like every tour operator is adding more and more exotic destinations. Apparently they recognize that customers are looking for new off-the-beaten-path destinations more than ever before. Some of the places mentioned the most by operators include India, South America and Southeast Asia.
This year there was also plenty of talk about sustainability in the travel industry what it means exactly and how to achieve it. Along those lines, one presentation stood out. The destination of Ecuador sponsored one of the dinners, and everyone I spoke with was very impressed by the quality of the presentation, as well as the long history of environmental leadership that country has shown.
Also, while I had a lot of questions for the tour operators, they also had a few for me or rather, for you. Several companies were interested in how they can better engage travel agents in order to educate them on their products. Live Webinar or recorded and posted online? Live in-person events and seminars? What are your preferences? Please write to us at letters@TravelAgeWest.com and share some of what’s important to you when it comes to educational programs. You might be surprised to see many of your suggestions become reality.
Finally, I’m happy to announce that we have just launched our annual Trendsetters Awards for agents. This year, there are three categories to enter: Best Sales Promotion Effort, Best Travel Agency Web Site and Best Travel Agent Cheerleader for the agent that best promotes the travel agent profession. Entries have a chance of winning prizes from Brendan Worldwide Vacations, Globus Family of Brands and Sandals Resorts. You can find more detailed information on the program, as well as a link to the entry form, on www.travelagewest.com.Voting ends Feb. 1.