Selling Special Events

I've always thought it wise to avoid destinations when they are hosting special events because they'll be crowded. My fear is that I won't be able to book a hotel room, and forget about securing a good table at a restaurant. But after just spending a few days in Valencia, Spain, during the America's Cup regatta, I've realized how being part of a big event can dramatically enhance a travel experience.

Ruthanne Terrero, CTC

I was in Valencia because I was attending Silversea's Sales Gala, which rewards its top-producing travel agents. We sailed south on the Silver Whisper from Barcelona to Valencia on a cruise whose itinerary was designed to provide the ideal venue from which to watch the America's Cup. And so it did. Amazingly, we were in the harbor during the opening day ceremonies of the yachting tournament, watching the fireworks and cheering crowds from the comfort of the ship's deck. I don't think I'll ever forget the dramatic air show that complemented all of the opening day festivities. As if that weren't enough, we then sailed out to sea to watch the race up close. On board, there was an eclectic array of cruisers, many of whom were passionate about sailing (one had even built his own sea-faring boat at the age of 17). Others were yacht-racing fans who had always dreamed of attending the America's Cup, and there were also more than a few Swiss and New Zealand yachting fans who were zealously cheering on their respective teams.

Selling Events on Land

Of course, being on a cruise for a magical event like this takes care of all of the logistical concerns of accommodations, crowds, access to good food, etc. But I encourage travel agents to do their best to scout out opportunities for their clients to enjoy special events on land as well. The happening doesn't have to be a sports extravaganza; perhaps you have a client who loves classical music. If you do the research and allow enough time, you may be able to track down cultural festivals that will enable them to hear a musician they adore.

Or perhaps a destination on your client's wish list is hosting a local festival that would add to the entire experience of the trip. Why not design an itinerary around it to spur them to finally go? For example, one of our editors, Dan Butcher, just returned from San Juan, where June 23 is known as La Noche de San Juan Bautista ("the Night of St. John the Baptist"), who is the patron saint of the city. The tradition is that at midnight on the 23rd, crowds of revelers gather on the beach to plunge into the ocean backwards several times to bring good luck and blessings. Dan was able to take part in the festivities. "Moving backwards into the Caribbean surrounded by the throngs of celebrating locals was an unforgettable experience that really made me feel connected to Puerto Rican culture," he reports.

Imagine giving such a memory to your clients. They will love you forever!

Ruthanne Terrero, CTC EDITORIAL DIRECTOR rterrero@questex.com

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