|This year's event will be held at Skamania Lodge. // Photo by Adam Leposa|
At its upcoming 2015 Owners & Managers Conference scheduled May 1 – 3 at the Skamania Lodge, WESTA (Western Association of Travel Agencies) will welcome its highest-ever number of attendees, a 31 percent increase over last year's record.
“The uptick signals sustained optimism as agencies actively seek opportunities for growth,” said Mike Estill, chief operating officer of WESTA, the member-owned travel agency consortium. “The industry’s bunker mentality is finally a footnote in our history and that presents new challenges and opportunities in an expansionist market.”
At the three-day conference, WESTA owners will hear from keynote speaker Paul Wiseman, president of Trafalgar, who will discuss DiSC, a personality assessment tool that is being used successfully to improve sales interactions. There will also be sessions and panel discussions on how to sell Cuba in the wake of eased diplomatic relations; the evolving impact of the Affordable Care Act on small businesses; and the care and feeding of small affinity groups. Estill will also present WESTA’s annual legislative review, a popular overview of timely topics affecting travel and the industry.
In keeping with trending agency management topics, WESTA will devote significant time to the topics of finding and training talent from outside of the industry and managing the modern, Internet-connected client.
“In this technological age, our clients have a proliferation of booking opportunities. Our job has evolved into one of not only booking travel, but helping our clients filter a tremendous amount of information. Continued growth will require a stronger, highly trained work force adept at handling clients inundated with information and opportunities in the travel buying segment,” Estill said.
In addition, WESTA will announce the largest year-end profit-sharing payout and supplier bonus and distribution in its history.
“I am extremely excited to announce this year’s distribution, a significant double-digit increase over our previous high. As the most tangible benefit to the co-op model, this is an important milestone for us,” said Linda Schwedock, president of WESTA.