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Geri Harvey is a travel industry veteran who dabbled in jobs within the tour, air and hotel sectors of travel before she eventually landed the role of global account manager for Outrigger Hotels & Resorts.
Jeff Gundlach, a current national account manager for Air New Zealand, is also a seasoned seller. After an 18-year career in Chicago with United Airlines, he was a national sales manager for C&H, an international air consolidator, up until recently.
It was in this role that he met Harvey in May 2016, at Global Travel Marketplace (GTM) West, an elite, appointment-only industry event produced by Northstar Travel Group and held in Tucson, Ariz. (Northstar Travel Group is the parent company of TravelAge West.)
The couple is now married, and recently back from a honeymoon in Fiji and New Zealand (visiting the Outrigger Resorts in Fiji and flying Air New Zealand from Fiji to New Zealand, of course). We sat down with Harvey (now Harvey-Gundlach) to hear more about that fateful meeting, and why she believes GTM West is a must-attend event for top players in the travel industry.
Can you tell us how you and Jeff met?Jeff wasn’t scheduled to be at GTM West, but at the last minute he filled in for someone on the C&H sales team. I was working with Outrigger when I met him on opening night. As we spoke about the industry, I told him about my struggles as a widow and single mother, but also how it had become an advantage, as I was able to show my children places I wouldn’t have been able to afford without the benefits of my job.
GTM had us doing so many activities together that Jeff and I were able to run into each other frequently. It’s difficult these days to meet someone, especially with our busy schedules of travel. Fate was working in our favor, that’s for sure.
How did your relationship build after the event ended?It was actually the most natural and seemingly innate thing for us to talk and share our lives with each other. We were separated by many miles — Jeff lived in Phoenix, and I lived in LA — but we found ourselves continually wanting to be in each other’s company. Neither one of us were looking for love, but love found the two of us when we least expected it.
We married over Christmas 2016 in a small private ceremony with close friends at the picturesque Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. Then, this past October, we had more than 150 of our closest family and friends join us for a grand wedding ceremony and celebration at another fantastic location: The Portofino Hotel & Marina in Redondo Beach, Calif. Our family and friends won’t stop telling us about how absolutely “fairytale perfect” our wedding was, from our personal vows and our beautiful surroundings and venue to the love that filled the room.
What initially drew you to GTM West, and what made it stand out in your mind compared to other industry events?GTM has a great group of highly trained, educated and friendly staff. What makes GTM such an amazing show is how organized it is, the interesting speakers, the quality and variety of agents, the evening events, the choice of venues and more.
Northstar’s Events Team keeps the group together and keeps the event small, so it’s not crowded and overwhelming. The attendees are very qualified agents who we’re able to spend time with throughout the day, and I like that they allow suppliers to choose agents for their appointments ahead of time.
Why do you encourage other travel industry advisors/suppliers to attend events such as GTM West? From the supplier’s perspective, given that GTM prequalifies the travel professionals, we find highly experienced professionals who bring almost immediate value to our companies. Further, the format of GTM — with its scheduled appointments — truly maximizes supplier/agent time with equally interested business objectives.
Likewise, from the travel advisor’s perspective, the suppliers are top-notch and are carefully selected and vetted by GTM staff, so they provide a high-quality product with professionalism. They also have interactive games that allow both supplier and agents to start a dialogue — it’s a perfect combination for mutual success.
This year’s GTM West will take place May 15-17, 2018, at The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas.