According to the U.S. Travel Association, spending on travel will increase only moderately – about 4 percent – in 2013, an economic reality that “makes high-quality training and relationship development more important than ever,” says Mike Estill, chief operating officer of WESTA (Western Association of Travel Agencies), the member-owned travel agency consortium.
Uniquely, WESTA offers two valuable initiatives designed to strengthen member agencies and set them on a successful course, Estill, a veteran consortia executive notes. "Its annual trade shows provide members with the opportunity to forge meaningful partnerships with top-tier and regional boutique travel vendors and operators, while half-day training and refresher sessions led by WESTA sales representatives enable member agencies to maximize the benefits of their WESTA membership."
On the heels of its successful Annual Owners and Managers Conference in October, WESTA is kicking off its annual series of trade shows, which migrate up and down the West Coast and bring together frontline agents and vendors for intensive full-day sessions, Estill reports.
Participants will include WESTA preferred suppliers from the cruise industry, as well as national wholesalers and a hand-picked group of unique local operators. “Our regional focus allows us to augment our preferred supplier list with regional boutique providers that don’t have a presence nationally,” notes Estill.
“The full-day format allows vendors to conduct product training with frontline agents and allows agents to develop face-to-face relationships with vendors,” he continues. Stops along the West Coast include Orange County, Seattle, Portland and the San Francisco Bay area over a four-week period beginning in January.
WESTA sales representatives will also operate half-day on-site training sessions with new WESTA member agencies and existing agencies that desire a refresher or have new employees. “When you join WESTA, there is no down-time as your team gets up to speed. We are there, training the team right out of the gate,” he notes.
“Agent education is one of our key strengths,” says Estill, who last year initiated a partnership with travelcampus.com, a leading online travel and tourism training program. “We are committed to ensuring that our member agencies are equipped with the skills they need to succeed.”
WESTA is a member owned and governed marketing cooperative whose programs are specifically designed to support premium and luxury targeted retail travel companies located on the West Coast.
WESTA is operated for the sole purpose of generating increased revenues for its membership through a broad spectrum of programs run in partnership with a selected group of premier travel partners who also target this same high-yield geographic market.