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“Beyond amazing”: Travel Market Place T.O. leaves agents energized & inspired



“Beyond amazing”: Travel Market Place T.O. leaves agents energized & inspired

The Toronto edition of Travel Market Place wrapped up on Wednesday (June 26), leaving travel advisors feeling educated, energized and inspired.

For Daniel Slupeiks, an associate at TravelOnly, it was his first time attending the annual trade event, which is now in its tenth year. 

“My inaugural experience was beyond amazing!”  Slupeiks told PAX. “Right from the start, it was clear that this was the event for networking with fellow travel advisors and suppliers, and for gleaning wisdom from the industry’s leading voices.”

The two-day extravaganza at the Delta Hotel Toronto Airport and Conference Centre on June 25 and 26 saw record attendance levels, with organizers reporting some 550 travel advisors and 130 suppliers.

READ MORE: Travel Market Place – Travel executives sound off on the state of the travel trade

Attendees had opportunities to not only network with their peers and meet supplier partners at a trade show, but also attend workshops led by leading business and marketing experts.

A packed ballroom at the Delta Hotel Toronto Airport and Conference Centre. (Pax Global Media)

Notable speakers this year included Claire Newell, founder and president of Travel Best Bets; author and performance strategist Geraldine Ree; TICO’s Richard Smart, president and CEO, and Dorian Werda, COO and registrar; Chris Austin, president, North America of Explora Journeys; Lauren Tilton of Tourism Cares; Betsy Goldberg, senior corporate communications director at TRAVELSAVERS; travel sales strategist Glenda Beagle; Nikita France, founder of Travel Agent Collective; photographer Dan Galbraith of the Details Group; Kim Specht of The Travel Institute; Caitlin Lajeunesse of Vacations by Caitlin and others.

Claire Newell, founder and president of Travel Best Bets. (Pax Global Media)

Chris Austin, president, North America of Explora Journeys, talked about the language of luxury travel. (Pax Global Media)

There was also rousing discussion about the state of the travel trade featuring commentary from Mike Barron, senior director, franchise operations at Expedia Cruises; Zeina Gedeon, CEO at Trevello Travel Group; Jane Clementino, senior vice-president and general manager at TRAVELSAVERS CANADA; Mark Stubbert, vice-president, member relations at Ensemble; and Úna O’Leary, general manager for Canada at Virtuoso. (Read PAX’s recap here). 

From left: Mike Barron, senior director, franchise operations at Expedia Cruises; Daniel McCarthy, VP & editor-in-chief at Travel Market Report. (Pax Global Media)

Community over competition

The workshops tackled a range of relevant topics, such as the role of artificial intelligence in business, ways to boost group sales, how to overcome the fear of charging fees, photo-taking tips, fraud prevention, recruitment, luxury travel, tips for selling cruises and more.

READ MORE: How to be an extraordinary travel advisor: Claire Newell opens Travel Market Place in T.O.

Several agents were involved in panel discussions where they had opportunities to share real-world strategies and success stories with their peers.

The Travel Agent Next Store was spotted on the scene. (Pax Global Media)

Mike Allard of Mallard Travel sat on a panel about selling river cruises.

“There was so much passion and pride in the room, it was incredible!” said Allard, who was joined by travel advisors Nicola Radde and Angela Weir on the panel. “It was an awesome example of community over competition.”

Allard said he’s already signed up for next year’s event.

From left: Mike Allard, Angela Weir, TMR's Jennifer Arango; Nicola Radde. (Supplied) 

It’s wine o’clock somewhere

At another session, AmaWaterways put a sipping spin on learning by incorporating a wine tasting into a presentation about its river cruise offerings.

With the help of the Niagara College Teaching Winery, agents got to experience what a wine-hosted river cruise experience would be like.

Niagara-based Karen and Steve Gill of Plan A Vacation helped organize the tasting.

From left: Sandra Gardiner, Steve Gill, Neil Dudley, wine expert, Karen Gill. (Pax Global Media)

Trevello's Patricia Miner at AmaWaterways' wine tasting. (Pax Global Media)

Speaking to PAX about the conference in general, Karen Gill called it “a great investment into my travel business.”

“Learning from guest speakers, tour operators and our travel colleagues at Travel Market Place helps me grow my travel business to a higher level,” she said.

Other panels unpacked topics relating to other aspects of the cruise industry, such as expeditions, cruise trends and Caribbean travel. 

Advisors get the scoop on boosting group travel business. (Pax Global Media)

Ambassadors in the house

Agents could also qualify for the event’s Ambassador Program. This is for professionals who have been in the travel industry longer than five years and produce $1 million+ in annual gross revenue. Ambassadors get access to exclusive benefits and programming at Travel Market Place. 

Sarah Boville, owner of Barefoot Travel, was selected as an Ambassador at this year’s event.

Sarah Boville, owner of Barefoot Travel (centre) with the team from Collette. (Supplied)

The opportunity allowed her to attend Geraldine Ree’s seminar, “Building Your Business One Human At A Time,” which was “a game-changer,” Boville told PAX.

“I am excited to implement her B.R.I.D.G.E formula for our renewed success,” she said.

Other highlights for Boville included connecting with preferred supplier BDMs and attending Betsy Goldberg’s breakout session on how to become a go-to expert with local media outlets. 

Automation is the word

Automation, and how it ties into artificial intelligence, was also a big theme this year.

Laurie Keith, CEO and founder of Boutique Travel Services, shared her tools, tips and tricks for streamlining marketing, quoting, booking, invoicing and itinerary tasks, and follow-up processes.

The team from Boutique Travel Services pose for a group pic at Travel Market Place Toronto. (Pax Global Media)

Corinne Wilson-Daly, an advisor with Boutique Travel Services, said all of this year’s speakers “held everyone’s attention and gave such inspirational talks.”

“There are so many exciting ways to communicate and get our message out to potential clients,” she told PAX. “I can’t wait to implement the tools I learned about.”

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