The Travel Agent Next Door recently held its annual conference in Cancun. We asked several attending travel advisors some questions and received some very interesting comments back:
Pattie Kisilewich, Dreamaker Vacations
What is the main reason you attend the annual conference? Vendor connections
What does the theme ‘Breaking Barriers’ mean to you? Breaking barriers is so many things on so many levels – work, personal, physical and mental. It’s about challenging yourself – physically and mentally and in our industry it’s about breaking barriers with clients and them restarting travel
What barriers did you break post-Covid? 2022 was my best year yet! Discovering new clients and finally travelling with my regular group to Italy and Greece. I re-certify with many of our vendors and tourism boards to keep current with the new travel ways!
What is the biggest takeaway for you? Keep going forward and look for new ways to expand – vendors and locations. This world is large and our time in it is short!
How important is it that your host agency holds an annual conference? Very important. I was with a host agency where conferences were only for the branch owners. With TTAND we get time with our head office, vendors and our TTAND team of agents!
What is the value of having 42 suppliers at conference? I love that the conference is early because it’s part of my business plan for the next 12 months – who do I need to connect with to offer something new to my clients?
John McLellan, John’s Vacation Travel, Belleville, ON
What is the main reason you attend the annual conference? I wanted to up my knowledge and make contact with the suppliers and TTAND staff. I was especially interested in improving my webpage. I needed some help in re-focusing my business. I essentially learned how much work I need to do to reach the level of some of the other agents.
What does the theme ‘Breaking Barriers’ mean to you? For me, the theme meant moving outside of my comfort zone and taking on new and exciting elements in my business. I will be improving my marketing, improving my website and making more contact with the supplier reps and TTAND staff.
What barriers did you break post-Covid? I moved more into marketing and peer relationships.
What is the biggest takeaway for you? The biggest takeaway for me is the Lead Generation program. I was aware of it but didn’t realize how well it fit with my goals.
How important is it that your host agency holds an annual conference? I will attend as many of them as I am able over the next few years.
What is the value of having 42 suppliers at conference? It was one of the main reasons I attended, I wanted to put a face to the name and develop a stronger relationship with the suppliers I generally use or will be using.
Monica Yadava, Scratch The Map, Toronto
What is the main reason you attend the annual conference? To build solid connections with other agents, suppliers and individuals within the travel industry. This was my first time. It was a great opportunity to experience and create great memories and to learn about the Travel Industry from all different perspectives.
What does the theme ‘Breaking Barriers’ mean to you? Being able to strive and accomplish the goals I have set for myself through determination and perseverance.
What barriers did you break post-Covid? The barrier I broke post covid was to enter back into the travel industry unsure what the outcome would be. I am pleasantly surprised how well I have exceeded my own expectations in both sales and creating some solid friendships.
What is the biggest takeaway for you? How the entire conference surpassed my expectations. It was so well balanced with opportunities to speak and build relationships with many suppliers one on one. Also training on marketing to grow our businesses, understanding how to balance personal and business life together, to create sales goals and how to achieve them, to reaching out and helping local communities.
How important is it that your host agency holds an annual conference? Annual Conference is absolutely vital as it creates morale, and stimulates determination. It provides an opportunity to accelerate your goals.
What is the value of having 42 suppliers at conference? Strong friendships and connections. Ability to put a face to names and see them in a different light.
Kimberly McDougall, London, ON
What is the main reason you attend the annual conference? This was my first TTAND conference and I really wanted to connect with other TTAND Agents as well as travel suppliers. The educational components focusing on social media and the updates from head office of new supports rolling out were so important.
What does the theme ‘Breaking Barriers’ mean to you? Breaking Barriers was such a great theme for conference coming out of COVID. During the last 3 years I felt my business was stagnant and I had just started in 2019/20. I felt frustrated and I really wondered if I should continue. Attending conference and seeing the TTAND community has left me re-energized to keep progressing and building my business.
What barriers did you break post-Covid? My business has really taken off post-Covid. I am so excited for the future.
What is the biggest takeaway for you? I really believe in community over competition and there is enough business for all of us. The connections I made with other agents who offered their advice and experience was so meaningful.
How important is it that your host agency holds an annual conference? This is the one time during the year we come together as TTAND from across the country to connect in person and that is powerful and so valuable to us as home- based travel agents.
What is the value of having 42 suppliers at conference? Suppliers, WOW, they are vital to what we do. The opportunities for supplier 1:1 as well as the supplier lunches and informal opportunities to chat over dinner are unique
Jennifer Jones, TTAND, Sutton West, ON
What is the main reason you attend the annual conference? To make personal connections with my colleagues and suppliers.
What does the theme ‘Breaking Barriers’ mean to you? Breaking Barriers to me is to push through those moments of doubt and push myself to reach for those goals I have set for myself. I was determined to complete my CTA certification by conference this year and I have successfully done so.
What barriers did you break post-Covid? I am new to travel, I began in May of 2021. I started at a time that I felt would allow me to train and develop my knowledge at my own pace, however the industry has been much busier than I anticipated and my barrier was to keep pace and succeed, which I have.
What is the biggest takeaway for you? The open reception I received from my supplier meetings. I proposed a marketing campaign that they have all gotten on board with, offering help and I am now preparing the campaign.
How important is it that your host agency holds an annual conference? Critically important. There is no other time of the year we have the opportunity to have the complete undivided attention of our suppliers to create meaningful business relationships. And to meet face to face with our colleagues from all across Canada, we get to put faces to all the emails. We get to meet the incredible support staff.
What is the value of having 42 suppliers at conference? The value is immeasurable, our suppliers spend the entire week with us. They are available for meetings during any open time we have, such as breakfast or between activities. I make a point of meeting with at least 3 new-to-me suppliers at each conference.