The importance of getting out and about (and it’s not about the free shrimp)

The importance of getting out and about (and it’s not about the free shrimp)

The importance of getting out and about (and it’s not about the free shrimp)

If you’re a home-based agent, you should feel an even greater need to get out to industry events and conferences. They provide you an excellent opportunity to network with suppliers and other agents. This mini-series of columns will discuss the importance of attending supplier events, trade shows, online training, conferences and even off-shore marketplaces too.

It goes without saying that all agents should consider it their duty to keep learning and keep their skills upgraded. Would you go to a doctor who hadn’t attended a seminar or read a medical journal in 15 years?

As a travel agent, your customer expects you to be the expert on whatever destination he or she is thinking of – each airline, cruise line, hotel or resort. That is a big responsibility. And yet it is achievable if you take advantage of the many opportunities to learn about the products you sell.

Suppliers spend a lot of time and money on travel agent education. And the cost to you is usually zero! Attending supplier training events and launches will keep you up-to-date with all the new products and features of that supplier. It will also demonstrate to them that you are serious about selling their product. And it will establish a relationship between you and the sales team at that supplier, so that if you ever have a question or a customer issue, you have a contact.

Trade shows are an even greater opportunity to talk first-hand with hoteliers, cruise lines, airlines, tourist boards, etc. You can build up hundreds of contacts over the years that will come in handy one day. You will also meet people from all over the world! Don’t just wander around a trade show picking up brochures. Talk to the person in the booth, ask questions, exchange business cards. Don’t be shy!

Another popular form of training nowadays is online. Webinars are the most common. Personally, I think in-person training is the best because of the social interaction, but webinars can be extremely helpful in keeping your skills and knowledge up-to-date and will take up less of your time.

The important thing is to keep learning. You cannot afford to skip these opportunities. In the fast-paced travel industry, the learning never stops!

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