Sign Up for Our Daily Newsletter
This year, from Sept. 24-27, some of the travel industry’s most progressive and promising professionals will pack their bags for Classic Vacations’ second-annual E3 Conference, hosted by The Westin Hapuna Beach Resort on Hawaii Island.
While such symposiums can sometimes fall into a pattern of droning self-promotion by the sponsoring company, this event aims to depart from the norm.
“It’s a nontraditional learning conference,” said Melissa Krueger, director of sales for Classic Vacations. “Our conference is designed to be all about the individual, from start to finish.”
Instead of concentrating solely on how travel agents can sell Classic Vacations’ product, E3 aims to foster professional development in areas such as entrepreneurship, brand building and networking through collaboration with like-minded individuals. E3’s approach — which is supported by the three concepts of “elite, education and experience” — is supported by a select group of mentors and keynote speakers who interact with attendees during workshops and panels throughout the event.
For example, Hilary Hamilton, one of the keynote speakers at E3 2017, shared the importance of branding.
“We helped advisors define their values and how they were going to put them into action,” Hamilton said. “We discussed how they describe themselves on their website or what tools they use on their social posts. How do you be that purple cow in a sea of brown cows?”
With a lower attendance number of 40 travel professionals, the ratio between agents and sponsors was about two to one, ensuring a more impactful and engaging experience.
“A lot of advisors didn’t think of themselves as their own brand because they worked for a larger company,” Hamilton said. “Some of them still email me now and tell me things they’ve been working on.”
Celebrating its 40th anniversary, Classic Vacations is proud of its effort to support the transformation of the travel industry. In addition to skills such as monetizing content marketing and how to better use technology, advisors also learned how to more effectively sell Classic Vacations and gained valuable destination expertise firsthand in Hawaii.
“The goals for this year are to increase sales with attendees and deepen loyalty to Classic and our partners,” Krueger said. “Within the first three months of our 2017 event, 50 percent of those who had never sold Classic before began to do so.”
Jessica Pressler, an independent contractor with Blissful Honeymoons & Destination Weddings, came away from the 2017 event with similar success.
“I have more than doubled my sales from last year with Classic,” Pressler said. “I definitely recommend it to other people in the industry.”
Pressler was relatively new to the industry, so the conference especially helped her zero in on where she wanted to take her business in the future. She came to the realization that luxury honeymoons and customizable trips were her passion. Since E3 2017, she has also accomplished her goal of growing her group travel sales.
“I was learning how to bring on new business, while also learning that, through branding, not all clients are for me,” she said. “It really made me think about what kind of trips I enjoy planning and how I present myself.”
Representatives from an array of hospitality giants, including Hyatt, Karisma Hotels & Resorts and Marriott, will attend E3 2018. Attendees can take advantage of roundtable workshops to learn more about many of Classic Vacations’ supply partners, in turn bettering their own expert positioning and comfort working with the product.
This year’s panelists are Jim Augerinos, president of Perfect Honeymoons & Holidays; Jennifer Brown of The Vagablonde, which specializes in romantic travel; and Amanda Klimak, the president of Largay Travel, Inc.
“We want to be the right hand to agency owner and managers,” Krueger said. “While they are busy running their businesses, we can support the development of their employees.”
That mission statement is certainly resonating; only 10 spots remain for E3 2018 (as of press time).
The DetailsClassic Vacations www.classicvacations.com