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“One of the biggest draws for agents attending the THETRADESHOW is the education offered to them. The seminars and workshops are varied and unique, offering all attendees a complete, educational experience,” said William Maloney, CTC, ASTA executive vice president and COO. “THETRADESHOW partners recognize that, in one year’s time, many things can, and usually do, change within the travel industry ... As a result, agents are offered top-notch education to help them remain competitive and the go-to source for their clients regardless of what kind of vacation they are looking to book.”
To keep agents up to date, THETRADESHOW is introducing new programs that aren’t your run-of-the-mill seminars. Chief among them is ASTA’s first-ever Retail Travel Leadership Summit, which brings together industry leaders and senior-level executives in an open forum for discussion and debate.
“The Retail Travel Leadership Summit will be a one-of-a-kind opportunity for travel executives from top-tier travel companies who feel they have been called to lead the travel industry in a positive new direction,” said Maloney. “Attendees will hear lively debates and will be engaged not only by the featured debaters, but also by their peers. The topics to be discussed at this exclusive gathering are some of the most pressing issues the industry faces right now.”
The summit takes direction from its focus on consumers, travel retailers and travel suppliers and is designed to help attendees stay competitive in an ever-challenging industry.Discussion topics are pointed and address major concerns in the travel industry. Attendees have the option of listening to debates on the future of GDS, the future of the cruise line industry or “The Economics of Going Green.” THETRADESHOW sponsor Auto Europe/Destination Europe is sponsoring former congressman and MSNBC “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough as the summit’s guest speaker.
Featured debaters and discussion leaders for “The Future of GDS — Who Will Pay” debate include Marc Rosenberg, vice president of sales and distribution with Air Canada; Chris Kroeger, senior vice president for Sabre Travel Network North America and GetThere; Noreen Courtney-Wilds, vice president of sales for JetBlue Airways; Flo Lugli, senior vice president, commercial for Travelport GDS; and travel lawyer Mark Pestronok.
While the Retail Travel Leadership Summit focuses on the big picture, THE-TRADESHOW itself is also turning its eye toward niche travel educational opportunities for agents.
“Niche travel is the buzz word these days and agents everywhere are booking more specialized and theme-focused vacations than ever before,” said Charlotte Haymore, president of THETRADESHOW partner Travel Professionals of Color. “Agents who want to keep up with and sell the latest vacationing trends should make plans to attend the education seminars on niche travel such as green travel, Cuba, luxury and minority travel.”
To help individual agents cut out their own niche in the market, THETRADESHOW is hosting six specialized seminars on everything from faith-based tourism to minority markets.
In “The New Era of Faith Tourism: How Agencies Can Capitalize on This Robust $18 Billion Market,” author Kevin J. Wright will provide agents with specific product, sales and marketing strategies to establish a successful faith travel program.
Another important issue to be explored at the show is technology and THETRADESHOW will address this topic with a number of seminars for delegates.
“Travel professionals who embrace technology will find continued success,” said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the Travel Industry Association of America. “Utilizing the latest technology and understanding Internet trends will not only boost an agent’s or supplier’s sales, but it can drastically simplify the way they do business, allowing them to focus more on customer service and making sure their clients become repeat clients.”
Seminars include “Blogging for Dollars — Advanced Tips and Tricks for Sales and Traffic,” “TripTailor Vacations — Putting You in Control of Your Destiny” and “The Ultimate CRM and Marketing Tools — ClientBase and ClientBase Marketing Services Are Better Together.” There are also beginner- and advanced-level classes on everything from mastering Microsoft Excel to using Google and other popular search engines. Even the popular social-networking site MySpace can be a useful marketing tool, as demonstrated by the seminar “MySpace Your Way to More Sales: Using Blogs and Social Networking Sites as Part of a Successful Marketing Program.”
While technology is a great way to keep in touch with industry contacts and customers, the show also understands the importance of meeting with other travel-industry members face-to-face, which is why THETRADESHOW will host a complimentary Global Business Day on Sept. 9 at 1:45 p.m. for all travel agent attendees.
“The Global Business Day is a great way to find new business. As an attendee, you are able to network with other agents and suppliers from around the world,” said Tom Jenkins, president and CEO of THETRADESHOW partner ETOA. “To have an event dedicated to developing business contacts means THE-TRADESHOW is more relevant than ever.”
This special networking function will headline the International Travel Agent Summit whereby agents can network through roundtable discussions on topics such as international credit card concerns and international GDS issues. All participants will also be listed in a special directory that all other international and domestic agents and suppliers in attendance will be able to review online after the conference.
ASTA’s Retail Travel Leadership Summit takes place on Sept. 8 from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Lunch is provided.Registration fee: $395