This issue marks the sixth year of our Trendsetter Awards for agents. As you can read in the cover story, “Travel Age West’s Trendsetter Awards 2012” (page 16), once again we are celebrating the actions of top agents in the West who display the professionalism, dedication and leadership we have come to expect in a Trendsetter Award winner.
While the cover story in this issue rightfully acknowledges the achievements of these agents, I want to take this opportunity to call out some important partners in this program that are sometimes overlooked.
This year, the sponsors for the Trendsetter Awards are Gogo Vacations, the Globus Family of Brands and AMResorts. Readers may not know this, but the sponsors of each Trendsetter Award are actually expected to do more than just hand out prizes. We ask the sponsors to read entries and vote along with the rest of the editorial staff for their favorites.
I mention this because it has become clear to me that the sponsors who support the Trendsetter Awards do so, not just for publicity, but because they feel like they are a part of the community of travel agents. It’s easy to be cynical these days about the motives of corporations, but companies such as Gogo, Globus and AMResorts actually care about the success of travel agents well beyond whatever is necessary to their own bottom lines.
“Gogo Vacations is very committed to the travel agent and we were excited to sponsor a Trendsetter Award,” Michele Kish, president of Gogo, told us after last year’s awards. “One of the most important things we can do as an industry is to continue to promote the relevance of the travel agent and the value the travel agent brings to the customer’s vacation.”
Take a look the next time you see a travel agent reward program, a fam trip, an award series, an educational seminar or a trade show. I’m willing to bet that the same companies come up again and again as sponsors. Sure, it is good for business. But the connection — the partnership — between some suppliers and the travel agent community often goes deeper than that. Identify these partners and make an effort to support them in return. In that way, everyone wins.