Perhaps there’s no other event the industry that showcases the importance of networking more than the Virtuoso conference, held every August in Las Vegas.
A coming together of hundreds of the top travel agents in the world with an astonishing 1,200 suppliers, this conference is about learning, sharing and making connections and contacts.
Your agency doesn’t have to be a member of Virtuoso in order for you to make the most of networking with suppliers. It might be an evening presentation, or perhaps you have partnered with a cruise line to give a presentation to your clients. The same tips always hold true:
1) Your attire. “Clothes make the man” – or woman, I’d say. I’m the last person you’d describe as a snob, but I was shocked to see attendees at the Virtuoso conference in Hawaiian shirts and deck shoes. Yes we are talking leisure travel, but we’re talking the business of leisure travel. Your appearance in business attire will always go a long way to presenting an image of professionalism and success to both suppliers and clients.
2) Always have business cards with you. Always. At meals, at coffee breaks, in the elevator and even the washroom (I’ve seen people exchanging their cards there too). The outside pocket of a purse is ideal so you aren’t scrambling to find a card. And men: tuck a few cards into your jacket pocket.
3) Follow-up. Not just to close a deal or finalize a group departure, but to say hello and thanks for the opportunity to chat with you. We are all inundated with business e-mails all day long, and sometimes it’s refreshing just to see a pleasant, personal greeting. (Snail mail works even better.)
As one of our Vision independent travel advisors who attended the Virtuoso conference last month put it, “By connecting with your suppliers, you connect with your clients.”