Cannon Kicks Off the HBTA Expo

The Home-Based Travel Agent Expo and Conference opened Wednesday morning with a rousing address from Kerry J. Cannon Jr., group publisher of Travel Agent Media Portfolio, Questex Media Group, who said that there were more than 4,000 delegates pre-registered, and combined with the collocated Luxury Travel Expo, Travel Week attendees were on track to be part of the "largest gathering of travel agents in North America in a long time." The show will be "a home run" for everyone attending, Cannon predicted. After welcoming attendees, Cannon announced prizes: five $50 gift cards from Staples, 10 Cabin Cuddlers ($350 value) and a Hewlett Packard iPAQ RX5000 Travel Companion (a $599 value). Cannon announced the new Hometown Heroes program, which will award one trip every month in 2007 to clients nominated by home-based agents, who will be able to go to the magazine's web site, [], as of next week to suggest a deserving family for the first trip-a Beaches resort in Jamaica. February's trip will be to a Sandals resort. Cannon then introduced the first keynote speaker, John Severini, president of Trafalgar Tours, who gave an engaging presentation on ways to attract new customers and trends in the business of which agents should be aware. Debbie Maier, vice president of MailPound, gave the second keynote presentation, "Seven Secrets to Success!" "Success" was used as an acronym for: Seek out suppliers, Utilize your resources, Create a personal connection with your clients, Control your costs, Elevate your enthusiasm, Specialize your talents and Service sells. The third keynote presentation was from Bryan Dockett, director of travel agency sales for Disney. Referencing Disney's Year of a Million Dreams promotion, he said, "It's up to you to be a dream merchant. Isn't that why you got into this business in the first place, to make dreams come true?" He reported that Disney awarded 150,000 dreams since the promotion began in October.

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