Second Annual Young Leaders Conference Aligns Successful Agents

The second annual Young Leaders Conference, which caters to agents and suppliers under the age of 40, concluded on Tuesday, December 7. And most of the roughly 100 attendees all agreed that the numerous networking activities during the two-day conference was what made the show such a rousing success.

"This show is really great for networking and meeting other agents," says Emma Horne, account manager for Islands in the Sun Travel 2. "I came last year and met a few agents who I wound up taking to Tahiti, so obviously I developed some close relationships."

I had the privilege of co-hosting the event with my colleague Bernadette Mari, senior marketing manager, Questex Travel Group. It kicked off on Monday with Mari and myself discussing our popular 35 Under 30 program and sharing ongoing agent and client trends from charging fees to booking swanky, nightlife-heavy resorts for young jet setting clients.

From there, agents broke out into a networking session, which, like last year's event, was modeled after speed dating. Each agent/supplier, armed with business cards, gets paired up with another agent/supplier for two minutes. During that time, the agents and suppliers share their business backgrounds and specialities before moving along to the next station and doing the same. At the end of the session, every attendee, including myself, had a stack of a new sources to align themselves with and feed off of.

"Its great to see agents who are around the same age," says Daniela H. Harrison of Avenues of the World Travel. "It's great seeing how many younger agents that are out there who are looking to pursue the same career."

Next up was perhaps my favorite sessions of the day for obvious reasons, "Creatively Marketing Your Image to Clients and the Media." We all read the trades, consumer magazines, blogs, and the like. Ever wonder how do I get my name in print? What questions have you always wanted to ask the press?

I tackled these issues along with Lia Batkin, co-founder of In the Know Experiences and Kristen Vigrass, president of the public relations firm The Brandman Agency. Both encouraged young leaders to align with one another as a marketing tool as well as stressing the importance of developing relationships with the media and public relations firms.

The first day of the conference wrapped up with final remarks by Jodi Myers, president of The Light Group and Katja Spitz, leisure sales executive for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

On Tuesday, the program got off and running with the session, "Digital Media: The Future is Here," hosted by Sash Catanzarite, chief product officer for IntheMo Interactive; JoAnna Haugen, travel blogger for Kaleidoscopic Wandering and Cary Levine, CEO of IntheMo Interactive. During this advanced class, agents learned how they can leverage digital media for the benefit of your business relationships while exploring industry success stories.

Next up was a session I moderated on "Mastering Your Passion, Your Business," where I had the privilege to chat with two agency professionals on how they harnessed their passion for travel into a successful career. This panel discussion included Beth Jenkins of McCabe World Travel and Kimberly Wilson Wetty, co-president of Valerie Wilson Travel, Inc.

Lastly, agents broke out into roundtable discussions covering such topics as age versus experience, marketing on the cheap, working the supplier relationship and anaging the work-life balance.




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