At least for three days, what happened in Vegas won't stay in Vegas for the nearly 8,000 travel industry representatives who flocked to the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino for Travel Week, anchored by both the eighth annual Luxury Travel Expo and the inaugural Home-Based Travel Agent Expo & Conference.
Luxury Travel Expo (LTE) appeared to be getting better with age, as many of the agents who graced the trade show floors last Wednesday and Thursday agreed that the trade show ranked among the best of the event's nearly decade-long history.
"It's definitely one of the best trade shows I've been to all year," said Janine Elder, president of California-based Travelseeker 4U.
Other agency owners, such as Carol McConnell, president of
Around the Globe Travel, also based in
"Everyone you would want to meet in the luxury travel business is here," McConnell said, "and I think it was put together well."
John McMahon, group publisher of Luxury Travel Advisor, a producer of the show, welcomed the crowd and encouraged attendees to keep the positive momentum of the industry ongoing. LTE was also produced by Travel Agent and Premier Hotels & Resorts, which, along with Luxury Travel Advisor, are both owned by the Questex Media Group. The event boasted a sold-out exhibit floor, with more than 500 luxury suppliers and featured live entertainment, world-class travel educators and industry notables as keynote speakers.
Both attendees and exhibitors told Travel Agent that the highly touted event lived up to the billing.
"It opens up so many avenues for agents to sell [luxury] travel," said Bill Todd of Florida-based U.S. Cruise Savers Inc. "By far, this event has been well worth the trip."
The Home-Based Travel Agent Expo and Conference also
got off to an exciting start with a rousing address from Kerry J. Cannon, Jr.,
group publisher of Questex Media Group's Travel Agent Media Portfolio. Cannon
noted that with more than 4,000 delegates pre-registered, attendees were on
track to be part of the "largest gathering of travel agents in
Agents then heard from keynote speakers John Severini, president of Trafalgar Tours, who gave an engaging presentation on ways to attract new customers; Debbie Maier, vice president of MailPound, who discussed the "Seven Secrets to Success!"; and Bryan Dockett, director of travel agency sales for Disney, who reported that Disney has awarded 150,000 dreams since the company's "Year of a Million Dreams" promotion began in October.
Wednesday afternoon's 12 packed-to-capacity sessions covered everything from marketing strategies to sales tips to in-depth looks at destinations. One of the most lively was the standing-room-only "The Secret to Doubling Your Home-Based Income in '07," presented by Shelton Hill, sales and business development coach for America's Vacation Center. In the second round of sessions, those attending the panel "The Road to Success: Choosing the Host Agency That's Right for You" heard straight from the sources about different agencies' plans and support systems.
The most interactive session during the third round was "Fly High With Airline Consolidators: Make Money Selling Air." Judging from the many questions from the audience, this was a much-appreciated forum to learn how to work with airline consolidators on both FIT and group travel. Said Akshay Shah, vice president of marketing at Sky Bird Tours and Travel, "Our motto is, 'Allow us to put money in your pockets,'" which got a resounding response of, "Okay!" from the audience.