The next few months are traditionally a key booking time in the travel industry. Agents are maximising on the lates market, and it’s also the perfect excuse to make time to head to warmer climates ourselves. Summer in Glasgow is not to be relied on for a Corona in the sun on a summer afternoon, not unless you own a cagoule. The first May bank holiday also tends to marks the start of conference season. A brilliant opportunity to network, make new contacts and attend industry talks about the latest travel trends and industry updates.
For us at Travel 2 it’s a great chance to meet with agents, to update them on new products, discuss plans for 2016 and most importantly, take onboard their feedback. My biggest bug bear is agents and suppliers not making the most of their time at a conference. It’s important to set out objectives for your time there and the key people that you would like to meet and know exactly what you want to get out of attending. I always make sure my team to get out there and network to ensure they get as much as possible out of conferences.
With ITT, Advantage and even the Travel Convention not too far off, now is the time to start planning. So, with this in mind, below are a few of my top tips for making the most of this year’s conference season:
Whilst conferences are a great opportunity to let your hair down with friends and colleagues (admittedly, myself and Mr. Freeth can occasionally be found enjoying a drink or two at the bar in the wee hours), it is important to make the most of the networking opportunities available. I often find that coffee breaks between speaker sessions, inviting agents for lunch or arranging to meet for drinks are the perfect time to meet new retailers or suppliers, catch up with existing partners and exchange tips and insight with your agents.
Break out of your comfort zone
As well as catching up with existing contacts, don’t be afraid to make new ones. If you spot someone that you have wanted to chat with for some time or are keen to pick their brains then make the first move. A direct and confident approach always makes a good impression and ensures that you get the most out of an initial meeting. It’s a great way to line up a one-to-ones back in the UK and to get yourself on someone’s radar for future opportunities.
Suss out the schedule
Every conference that I’ve ever been to has had some fantastic speakers. Industry panels offer insight into upcoming trends as well as tackling issues that are having an effect on travel. Headline speakers tend to be inspirational and provide plenty of food for thought of new strategies you could adopt to implement in your business and importantly, good talking points for dinner that evening.
Sharing best practice
Conferences are always a brilliant opportunity to catch up with our peers. A quick chat is a great way to learn from others and share your own recent experiences. For example, what destinations performed well for the turn-of-year period and what new trends are you both noticing? Or perhaps you are a homeworker and could learn from an OTA and vice versa. Plus sussing out where the best after party is likely to be is always worth its weight in gold!
This year, the Travel 2 sales team and I will be heading to the big industry conferences and really hope to see you there – not least because we may have a few surprises up our sleeves involving dubious choreography and pink blazers to make sure you are entertained... Please do collar us for a coffee or a catch up over dinner, or if in doubt, boss man Freeth and I are always happy to buy you a beer. Cheers to a great summer of conferences!