Panelists Offer Tips and Share Success Stories

In the second afternoon round of four concurrent sessions of the Home-Based Travel Agent Expo, agents learned about what Group Publisher, Travel Agent Media Portfolio, Questex Media Group, Kerry Cannon, Jr., called the "alphabet soup of acronyms." 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. Kim Sherrett, director of agent relations, Travel Planners International, told the audience that her company pays commissions on the 15th of each month and is going to pay twice a month in `07. Jeffrey Anderson, vice president of marketing for America's Vacation Center, then told the group that AVC now pays by direct deposit. "We've got some quality competition up here trying to outdo each other; it's like 'Name That Tune' up here," said Bill Alverson, president and CEO of Joystar, who jokingly added that Joystar would pay daily next year (and then another panelist chimed in, "We'll be paying hourly!"). Agents heard success stories from the panelists on "Focus! Profiting Through Specialization," and got the latest info on Las Vegas and its surrounding area attractions in "Get Up-to-Date on the New Las Vegas!" The most interactive of the third round of concurrent sessions 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. "Our motto is, 'Allow us to put money in your pockets,'" said Akshay Shah, vice president of marketing, Sky Bird Tours & Travel, which got a resounding response of "OK!" from the audience. He explained that air consolidators have contracts for negotiated rates with airlines and that agents who buy through consolidators are able to mark up tickets and still save money for their clients. Joanie Ogg, president of NACTA and TravelSellers, gave agents great tips in "It's All About You! Marketing Yourself for Success"; the audience got insight from suppliers such as cruise lines and tour companies in "Successfully Optimizing Supplier Relationships"; and agents learned about the island nation's latest developments in "Jamaica: Once You Go, You Know." A preview of Thursday finds agents and suppliers networking and building business on the trade show floor and learning more in the afternoon sessions: "Uncovering Hidden Commissions," "Getting the Home-Based Advantage: Insider's Secrets to Success," "The More the Merrier, the More the Money" and "CLIA's Building Loyalty."

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