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Wishing everybody a very Happy Thanksgiving!
Conferences are always fun, but how do you follow up afterwards? It’s hard enough to keep in touch with all your clients and regular workload after you get back. You made friends with all these new suppliers at the shop, but now what? What are you doing with your pile of brochures, fliers and the draw full of business cards?
Put them in a big box marked 2016 meeting and store them away???
I REALLY HOPE THAT WASN’T YOUR ANSWER… 😉
Here are a few tips to help you sort through the mess and get the most out of it.
- Organize your pile of paper
You should have a nice selection of brochures, fliers, coupons and business cards. Each office is set up differently, but we have a spot for all new brochures. I label or stamp them with our info an sort them away with the rest. If it’s a brand new brochure we don’t have yet, I add them to the “must order” list, to make sure we have enough in inventory. With suppliers we don’t use a lot, I scan the vital information to their profile in CB+ and discard of all but the one master brochure we keep in house.
Fliers get scanned and attached in the appropriate profile in CB+.
Coupons get sorted in the master file of that specific supplier. If it’s a coupon that can be duplicated, it gets scanned and attached under their CB+ profile.
I go through my meeting notes and all new pertinent information gets noted in CB+ under the remarks tab. All is dated, so we know when we received the new updates.
IF your office is set up differently, talk to your colleagues and ask them how they organize their material. But please, don’t just pack it away or even worse throw it out…
- Business Cards
This is the hardest and most time consuming task. First I divide cards up into Suppliers, Destination Specialists and Fellow Consultants. I check which contacts are already listed in CB+ for that Supplier/Destination Specialist. I update what needs to be updated. Be careful with this, not all suppliers you met at the show are your actual BDM’s, so check contact details before updating information.
I have a spreadsheet with fellow travel consultants and I sort their contacts by specialties. This way I create my own support group for various destinations and have a way to reach out if I need help with a booking.
- Thank you notes and Social Media
I go through all my cards and see who stood out and I start writing Thank You Notes or send little notes. Some are emails, some are social media messages and some are actual cards.
Lastly I stalk everybody on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc… friend their blogs and so on. It helps to stay in touch throughout the year
- Supplier emails/phone calls
Next, I query my clients for upcoming trips in CB+. I make a list of all bookings by supplier and start sending emails out to the appropriate contacts I just made at the show. Just a quick note of who is booked on what and to please VIP them. I chatted with most suppliers about these bookings at the show and have specific things I need to follow up on. Since I had a lot of clients in travel during the show I also forward their latest feedback. Especially the good feedback. Our supplier partners rarely get to hear the good stuff!
- Stay in touch
This is probably the most important thing after the show. We all make new friends every year. Stay in touch over the next 12 month. It will be so much more fun to see all your new friends again if you keep up on what’s going on with them. See if you can get together throughout the year. Maybe you are visiting the same region at the same time; attend the same FAM’s or conferences. We’ll keep creating ‘Meet-Up’ opportunities throughout the year and many of your new friends will be attending the Signature Regional Trainings in the spring. Start building your own support network and see what can happen…
I really hope you find this helpful. I remember how overwhelmed I was after my first meeting and most of my material did end up in a big box. I felt like I wasted so much time getting to know all my new friends and hope you don’t make that same mistake. I know all of this is time consuming, but hey, Rome wasn’t built in a day either… Take your time with this; organize a few people in your office to work on it. Some of the material you have will be duplicates and can be eliminated. Only do what works for you.
If you have some other cool tips to share, please leave them in the blog comments so everybody can see them.
Avenues of the World Travel
The annual Signature Sales Meeting and Trade show is just a few more days away! YAY!
I hope all of you are as excited as I am! This is such a great event. And no matter if you attend annually, haven’t been there in a few years or this is your first time, there are a few things you should look at to prepare yourself.
Pick your work shops
There are so many different options to choose from. While we all have a favorite speaker, it is vital to choose the workshops that will benefit you the most for the coming year. So make your selection by topic, not by speaker or which your friends attend.
Not your old school notepad…
Take good notes during workshops/meeting, you’ll need them later. There are various tech tools you can utilize or go oldschool with pen and paper. Whatever works for you. but make sure your notes make sense to you later and you taken them down in an organized manner. I like to create my own conference notebook, organized by suppliers. See here for more details: Prepping for a conference
Also consider writing some thank you notes. A lot of our suppliers traveled far to meet with you. Did you have a client stay at their hotel or enjoy their cruise. Did they have a good time? Write a little note to thank them for making you look like a rockstar!
It’s all in the presentation...
Make sure you have plenty of business cards with you. Personally I usually need between 500-600 at least! Distribute them in person when possible. It’s a great way to get some facetime. If you have sth specific a supplier needs to follow up on, make a note on your card for them. It will help keep suppliers organized.
Proper attire is key. Yes, we are in Vegas, but this is a business trip! We’ll all have fun, but we are not here to party! you are representing your company, and you want to keep it business dress during the day, and business casual in the evening.
Now, there will be plenty of after hour events. And it’s ok to let loose a little, but don’t get sloppy. Even after hours you are still surrounded by colleagues and business partners.
Introvert turn Extrovert
This is probably the hardest for many people. How do you walk through a room of 1,000 people you don;t know and start making introductions? Well. confidence is key. You cannot be shy! Easier said then done, right?
Set yourself some goals, and start small. Maybe try to meet 3 new people each night. Personally I look for people on their own or in groups of 2-3, take a deep breath and walk over. I start the conversation with sth like: “Hi, my name is Daniela and I haven’t met you yet.” Since we’re all there for the same reason, to network, you’d be surprised how nice everybody is. Once you make a few new connections, ask them if they know anyone else in the room and if they’d be willing to introduce you. For my How I met your mother fans, the “Have you met Ted game” is a great way network!
If the first night went well, set yourself a higher goal for the next day. Do make sure you have enough business cards with you to meet plenty of new people.
The Supplier speed dating sessions are a great way to meet new people. You will have a designated seat and suppliers will come by to visit your table to give you their 5 minute sizzle. Good note taking is key here. Try to remember the faces of at least of few suppliers so you have someone to say hello to during the evening events.
For more details, check here on successful networking
Rock the Tradeshow floor
The Tradeshow can be quite overwhelming. It’s important to have a plan. Make sure you look at the map prior to the event. Mark down the supplier you want to see, and maybe make a note, what you wanted to talk to them about. Bring an empty roller suitcase for collateral and other information you collect during the show. If you have specific questions for a suppliers, have them drafted in your email so you can email them out when you meet them and get their contact info.
Prep your 30 second sizzle. Make sure you have a good way to start the conversation and leave a good impression with suppliers.
If you’re still unsure, reach out to some of your YAC friends on FB and ask if you can tag along with them.
My first two years, I created my own buddy system. After day 2 you will have it all figured out and be confident to roam the conference floor on your own.
And you can always reach out to us YAC Board Members. We’re here to help you get the most out of Signature and YAC.
Hope you found this helpful!
Avenues of the World Travel
A safari is on many travelers bucket list, but not everybody imagines the same experience.
Safari can mean a lot of different things, to a lot of people, so it’s important to be very clear about the experience you’re looking for when you start planning your trip.
The first thing to look at is the kind of camp you would like.
Some camps are tents, some are cottages or bungalows and some are hotels. Each has their own personality and pros and cons. Some camps are very small and intimate, with only 6-8 rooms. One of my favorite properties for a small intimate experience has been Dulini Safari Lodge. I truly felt like I was coming home to visit family.
Others are larger and focused on pure luxury. Do you want your room to be next to the riverbed and close to the wildlife, or do you prefer to be located on a cliff wall with breathtaking views over the bush? Lodges like Richard Bransons Ulusaba offer both options.
Some camps will be set up for community dining; others only offer a private dining experience. I loved our communal dinners. After the game drives we were able to all sit down together to an amazing meal and share our sightings of the day.
Next you should look at the kind of vehicles used during your safari. If you like the open land rovers (no roofs) you are limited to a safari in South Africa. If you feel more comfortable in an enclosed vehicle or jeep, you should consider East Africa. Personally I love the open land rovers. It really makes you feel as if you’re part of your environment. There are no dividing walls or windows to separate you from nature. There is nothing like having your hair blow in the breeze, smelling the trees around you as you can hear and see a leopard enjoying an antelope in the tree next to you.
Now it’s time to consider the kind of wildlife you would like to see. Do you want to be in the bush looking for small herds of animals? Do you prefer to be out in the open Savannah gazing upon herds of thousands of animals in migration? Are you hoping to see a family of gorillas? Are the Big 5 a must see for you? Are you into birding? All of those and more criteria’s should be considered as you cannot see all of these in the same place. South Africa will give you a wide variety of wildlife, but in small groups throughout a dense bush. East Africa is home to the famous Migrations and allows you to see thousands of animals at once in a very open space. Gorillas can be found in the forests of Rwanda and Uganda. If you’re into Lemurs, Madagascar is your best bet…
If you have a specific interest like birding, it’s important to find a lodge that employs guides with the necessary knowledge and patience to focus on your interests. During my stay at Tintswalo Lodge we actually saw a kill. Our guide had the knowledge and the patience to follow this particular pride of lions for multiple hours. Even when it was pitch black dark outside, he entertained us with star gazing and some lovely guide stories until the lionesses we were watching bolted into motion. We were able to follow the entire hunt, including seeing the males stealing the kill from the females and having to protect it from stealthy crocodiles. Not many of the guides we met would have had the patience to wait for this to happen.
Lastly you should include your preferred type of transportation for the actual game drives. Do you want to do all your safari game drives by car? Do you prefer to do them via elephant back, bicycle, on foot as a bush walk, in a canoe form the water, via river cruise, from a bush plane…? There are so many different options out there; it can be hard to choose. Not to worry, many camps will allow you to combine multiple experiences into one. On my recent trip I was able to do a land rover safari and bush walk and an elephant back safari all from the same camp. Camp Jabulani did a great job organizing all these different activities for us and fitting them into our day…
Most people traveling to Africa want to be able to support a local school, community or wildlife preservation organization. A visit to the local town and school is so rewarding. The people are friendly and love meeting visitor. To pack for your trip, visit http://packforapurpose.org/ and see what a certain village or school from your itinerary actually needs.
Wildlife rehabilitation centers are a great way to get involved and learn about conservation efforts. If you’re interested to learn more, please ask your safari specialist ways to get involved. There are camps that allow you to travel with local veterinarians to trek rhinos and more.
Please know that your presence in Africa alone is helping to make a difference. The tourist industry is one of the largest on the continent and sustains many villages and conservation acts. Just by traveling through the countries alone, you’re making a huge difference.
Traveling through Africa can take you to some very remote areas. Travel insurance with emergency evacuation can be a huge lifesaver. Contact your travel specialist for more details on the right policy for your next trip. See also: The Importance of Travel Insurance
Now all that’s left is to pick up the phone and contact your Africa Specialist to book your next safari.
Daniela has been a Travel Consultant since June 2010. She works for Avenues of the World Travel, Flagstaff AZ 86004. For more information please contact Daniela at 800.230.3322 or Daniela@avenuesoftheworld.com. For travel inspiration please visit: www.avenuesoftheworld.com
Myself and a few other Signature Travel Consultants recently attended the Inaugural Travel Industry Exchange in Orlando.
The conference was the fist of it’s kind, focused on Advisor Specialization and defining your niche.
Our industry as a whole is embracing specialization. Personally I think as agents, we can’t be everything to everybody. I expect my suppliers to specialize in certain destinations/products, so why should an advisor work differently. It just makes sense.
Suppliers are starting to look at specialization for FAM Trip selection, the Media loves to quote specialists and the consumer is looking for accolades/certificates and specialists for their needs. So if you’re not on the specialization train yet, you might want to reconsider…
The conference also offered certification tracks to those agents that wanted to make a difference within their chosen field. This year there was a Luxury Track, a Cruise Track and a Romance Track. In order to get your certification, agents had to attend a minimum of 5-8 workshops within their track and answer a select number of questions after each session. More tracks are going to be added to the 2016 program.
Here are a few images from our panels…
In addition there were 2 days of Tradeshow, with an option to sign up for 1-on-1 appointments in advance. I was surprised by the sheer number of tourism offices in attendance – which was a really amazing way to learn more about destinations of interest without the supplier sales pitch (not that I don’t love my suppliers). It opened the door to unbiased resources for myself and my clients – regardless of consortia association or sales numbers. I was so happy to meet the tourism offices and I wish our appointments could have lasted longer. Many of them traveled very far and they were all so passionate and excited to meet new advisors.
During the Tradeshow I learned a lot about niche products and services (i.e.sleep away in Africa, special dinner options in Europe, unique hotel accommodations), which I can book through our Signature Suppliers. I just didn’t know that they existed before and would have never requested them. I’m excited to see how this can benefit my clients more.
I have to say I found the conference very helpful. I learned a lot about various niches and how to further specialize within my field. I was matched up with new resources to help set myself apart from other advisors and was able to make many new meaningful connections. I also befriended a few agents within my own niche so we could brainstorm together and support each other in future endeavors.
I learned about new apps I can use for marketing and during travel, like Periscope. Look it up, it’s awesome!
The workshops offered covered a multitude of topics, from destination classes to sales strategies, millennial traveler, family travel, honeymoons, travel bloggers, cruises, river cruises and much more. Multiple sessions were Periscoped (#TIX15) and the recaps should be published soon in Travel Agent Magazine and Luxury Travel Advisor. You can also look back on FB and Twitter under #TIX15 to see some of the things discussed.
One of my personal favorite workshops was “Travel + SocialGood” and I cannot wait to get more involved in the movement. It represents community over competition, to support ones networks, to pay attention to environmental/social/economic impacts while traveling and to be aware of ones carbon footprint impact on the world. My goal is to be a SocialGood hub by the end of the year. It stands for everything I believe in and I am so excited to see how many agents and suppliers already support the movement. I will be writing about this in the future, so stay tuned. For more information on this visit: http://www.travelplussocialgood.org
As a heads up, the 2016 conference will be held Dec 13-15 in San Diego.
You can see more details at:
Looking forward to seeing you all here in 2016!
- Please note that a FAM is a work trip, not a vacation. Most have very structured daily activities and you are expected to participate in all of them.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Hoteliers and managers invite you to learn more about their product. They are expecting questions, so don’t hold back!
- Bring plenty of business cards. You will be shaking a lot of hands, so make sure you have enough cards on you.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes – ALWAYS!
- Show up on time for scheduled activities
- Be excited to be there, even if a particular activity is not your first choice
- Be professional (dress nice – country club casual always works), be polite and don’t drink too much and say things that will reflect poorly on your profession, your company, or Signature as a whole. (Remember – you are always representing your company AND Signature while on a FAM!)
- Have a camera and notepad with you on site inspections. It works great if you write the name of hotel and room category down and take a picture of the page before taking room pictures. Do this for each room category to stay organized! If you see multiple hotels with various room categories at each hotel it can get quite confusing. And after a weeklong trip you won’t remember which picture was taken at which hotel…
- Don’t assume that just because you’re a travel agent you’ll get certain ‘special’ privileges. You’re a guest at the property, just like everyone else.
- Be humble. Hotels and suppliers invest a lot of time and money to have you come visit and experience their products/properties. Even if it isn’t your personal preference – ultimately you’re there to learn about it so you can be an expert in selling to someone else who will LOVE it!
- Try to be engaged. A lot of FAM trips include round table discussions or supplier presentations. Do some research on the destination, suppliers, products that are being discussed and make sure you have some input.
- Thank You notes are huge! Make sure to say Thank You after you return home. An email, a phone call or even better a hand written card are all it takes to establish long term working relationships. Let the suppliers and hotel managers know you value their time and appreciate the experience. It doesn’t have to be much, just acknowledge their efforts.
- Most FAM’s will include a survey at the end of the trip. Take your time and really use the opportunity to give detailed feedback so they can provide the best experience for future guests.
- Last but not least, have fun! Become friends with your fellow participants; enjoy the destination and the properties. There is always some free time to explore and have a good time.
Hope this was helpful!
- Business Cards
Bring PLENTY of business cards. If you don’t have enough, take a picture of your card (front and back) and email it to the people you meet when you take their information. It only takes a second and ensures you won’t forget or get overwhelmed later. There’s nothing worse than attending a networking event and being the person without cards. It also helps to have your picture on your card. It helps others to put a face to your name and they are more likely to remember you at future events.
- Dress professional
You’re not just representing yourself, but also the company you work for. The press attends most industry events and there is always a photographer. Shine your shoes and present your best smile.
- Know your 30 sec sizzle
Be short, clear and concise. You’ll be meeting many people and it will be hard to keep track of who is who if you make many new acquaintances. Think about what you want people to remember about you and drive that point home.
- Set goals for the event
If you’re purely looking for new connections, set a goal to meet 5-10 new people each day. Maybe you’re trying to meet the press or meet a specific supplier. Make sure you follow through on that first and then mingle with your friends. If you’re a little on the shy side, ask your friends or suppliers you know to introduce you.
- Do some research on the event itself
Who is attending, who organized it, what is the event all about and what can you hope to take away from it. You want to make sure it’s worth your time and that you walk away with something new you learned.
- Follow up afterwards
Thank the organizers for all their hard work – you should always do this!
Send an email to your new contacts, thanking them for meeting you and ask to stay in touch.
Connect with your new friends on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc…
- If it’s sit down situation…
Take notes on what’s being discussed and who is talking. Much easier to follow up this way if you have questions and allows you to scan through your meeting if there is a Q&A at the end.
- With important new contacts take a picture of them and their business card. It will help you to remember them for future events and when you program their contact into your phone you already have a picture you can associate.
- Most importantly, don’t be shy
You’re attending a networking event to meet new people. Yes, that requires you to step out of your shell and be brave. It takes guts to walk through a room of strangers and forming a conversation out of thin air. Just remember, everybody is there for the same reason. People are excited to meet you and want to get to know you. So take a deep breath and go for it…!
Avenues of the World Travel
Travel is a lot of fun! You see new places, meet amazing people and discover things you never knew were out there in the world… Unfortunately, travel is filled with lots of unforeseen circumstances. Weather, Holidays, Local Celebrations, Strikes, Flight delays and the likes are not uncommon and even the best pre-planning can’t always save you from everything. When planning your travels, make sure you consider the unplanned. Trip interruptions can be a nuisance, or they can turn into the best part of your trip. It’s all about preparation and how you deal with it.
Travel insurance can help make that difference. When flights are delayed or cancelled, insurance can help arrange hotels for the layover and even help rebook your flights. If a family member gets sick and you have to interrupt your trip to come home, insurance can help. They even help with lost luggage, can assist with identity theft and much more.
You’re not feeling well during your trip abroad and need to find a licensed doctor that speaks English, insurance will help get you to the best physician in the region. And if you feel that you can’t make it there, a doctor will come to your hotel room.
Some policies even include a concierge service. You’re traveling abroad and need dinner reservations or translations? No problem. Your insurance company is there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They can help.
Insurance is not just an optional add on to consider, it’s something I never travel without myself. It’s an added service to protect your investment. Not just your financial investment into a trip, but also your time, your health and your family. This way you can be at ease, knowing you’re protected wherever you go.
For more on the topic, visit: http://www.travelguard.com/whybuy/whytravelguard.asp?intcmp=clc-001-Nav-3-10Reasons
Now make sure you get the right coverage for you. Read the fine print and know how to contact your insurance while traveling, in case you need to.
Other than that, Happy Travels!
All conferences are structured a bit different, but I’ve noticed that the high end or luxury focused ones implement one-on-one meetings between agents and suppliers. I love this for many reasons:
I, as an agent, can usually request who I would like to meet with. The suppliers can request which agents they want to meet as well. The conference organizers will match those up and voila!
It’s a great way to meet suppliers you haven’t met before, catch up with the ones you already know and find a few surprises in between. Knowing who you will meet when, allows you to be best prepared for all meetings. Here are a few things I do every time, when preparing for those meetings.
- Pack name badge – I like to bring my own in case there is a typo on my conference badge. Yes this happened before – who knew there are so many ways to spell Daniela… I prefer to have the correct spelling on my badge.
- Pack an ample amount of business cards. I’m expecting to meet with at least 100 people, during the 1 on 1 appointments, plus a few more at the social events in the evenings. I’m staying at different hotels and like to make sure to have a few more cards for the staff I’m meeting there. For a conference like this, I’m bringing at least 250 business cards.
#YACTNT: Should you start to run out of cards, take a picture of your card and when you meet the suppliers, simply email the picture of your card to them during the meeting.
- I bring the schedule with me, and program it into my phone, so I know when to be where.
- Do some research on the suppliers you’re going to meet. I find it absolutely horrifying to sit in a 15 minute one-on-one meeting and not knowing anything about the person/company I’m sitting with.
- If you’re meeting 100+ suppliers it’s impossible to know about everybody. I create my own conference note books. I create it in order of suppliers I meet. They get a full page, for each supplier. On the top I put the company name, a quick summary of what I know about them, and a question or two, I might have for them.
If they are brand new to me, I research them a bit before I depart and put a few notes on things I learned – just so we have a few things to talk about and maybe even a few questions I have after my initial research. I’m totally stealing this idea from GTM (Global Travel Market – http://www.gtmwest.com) I loved the workbook they provided! Thanks Emmy and Jacqueline!
- I always bring a roll of tape or a stapler and attach the suppliers’ business card to the page in my workbook. It helps me create a great reference guide for each conference I attend.
- When we start the meeting I always take a picture of the suppliers’ business card and then take a picture of us together in their booth to use for social media promotions. My clients love to see that I’m actually meeting all our suppliers in person and we know each other; and it gives the suppliers some exposure. I get re-tweeted and re-shared on FB etc. and it benefits everybody in the long run.
- When I return to the office after the conference, I sort my workbook into different categories. I usually divide into industry categories: hotel, transfer, tour operator, activities, special services and then by alphabet within those categories. It makes it easy for me to access contact information and a summary of services when looking for things to recommend to my clients.
- I like to bring thank you cards with me. If I know I’m meeting a supplier that has helped me shine in the past, I like to hand deliver Thank You Notes (Please see: https://danielapharrison.wordpress.com/2015/03/26/the-art-of-the-thank-you-note).
If I have clients traveling in the near future, I like to type up a little list and hand it to them, so we can discuss special needs etc… I usually also email it afterwards, with the things we talked about.
If it’s an informal setup, no one-on-one appointments, I like to leisurely walk through, meet with the suppliers as they are available and take notes then. I also like to take fun pictures in their booth, especially if some of my friends are attending the conference as well. It’s great social media PR, a lot of fun, and the suppliers will remember you! All of these are taken in a suppliers’ booth 😉
Hope you all enjoy the article and that this will be helpful as you prepare for your next conference.
Daniela Harrison – Avenues of the World Travel www.avenuesoftheworld.com #avenuesoftheworld