Written By: Andy Ogg – Editor at Travel Professional NEWS®
The dry Nevada desert is one of desolate mountains and endless landscapes however, this city of Las Vegas continues to grow like a wildflower. We made the drive out from our home in San Diego, California to attend the 2016 Travel Agent Forum. I was fortunate to be accompanied by my fiancé to photograph the event and while we were excited for a “date night,” we were both really looking forward to attending this trade show for the first time.
We arrived Monday in the afternoon and settled in. We arrived a little too late for the conference events so we took advantage of the desert oasis known as Las Vegas and enjoyed walking up and down the strip. Las Vegas is quite the interesting city and if you haven’t been in a few years, it’s hard to even recognize today. The hotels have continued to grow, not only in size, but also with attractions and activities.
After a great night’s rest at the Paris Hotel, we readied ourselves for an exciting day at the conference. Registering for the show was easy and well managed with polite and efficient employees. We started off by attending the “Globetrotter Series – Los Cabos” presented by Posadas. The presentation was very informative and well executed. The mutters of “ooh” and “ah” could be heard from around the room as agents vigorously jotted down notes and incentives that were available. There are tons of great places in the world to send your clients and from the look of the presentation, this destination is a must do!
We jumped over to the next session in the Globetrotter Series focusing in on Dubai and presented by Travel Worldwide Cheap. This was another great presentation full of information regarding air travel, lodging and activities. One of the most notable parts of the presentation was that travelling to the richest destination in the world doesn’t require for your clients to be the richest travelers! There are tons of hotels and lodging options in Dubai and while the attractions may be extreme, the cost of visiting Dubai doesn’t necessarily have to be.
The sessions broke for the sponsored lunch with speaker, Anita Pagliasso, President & Founder of Ticket to Travel. The lunch was not only delicious but the presentation provided some great information on maintaining your course as you find your road to success. She made great points about detours and possible off ramps that can lead to new avenues and how to examine those. Anita spoke while the attendees enjoyed the lunch sponsored by Speciality Travel Forums and before we knew it, lunch was over and it was time for the next session.
We enjoyed many sessions throughout the day but one of the most notable was “VAX VacationAccess & Xcelerator – The Perfect Team to Grow Your Business,” presented by Lynn Clark and Beth Kitzman. The team at Trisept Solutions have hit the nail on the head with their completely innovative booking, CRM, and management software. The integration of this Cloud based program extends past many out there and as they continue to roll out new additions and features of the program, it seems to just be getting better! If you haven’t looked into Xcelerator yet, I would suggest it. The presenters did a great job of providing very technical information in an easy to understand format, good for people like me, who get lost in the tech talk at times.
Soon after, the trade show portion of the conference began and the continuation of a great show. The hall was packed with vendors, suppliers, host agencies, tourism boards and many more. We made our way through the crowds of agents and were greeted by familiar faces at many of our stops. One thing stands true; this industry ROCKS! We were able to learn about some great new offerings such as Lipsmacking Foodie Tours. This new operator offers commission to agents and specializes in taking their clients on an all out feast throughout Las Vegas. Specializing in the highest caliber meals, this is a great way to experience Vegas in a different and unique way. There were tons of great companies being represented at the trade show and we were not only happy to be there, but ecstatic to see such vibrant life and energy in this awesome industry.
With feet starting to ache and a hunger pains, we headed back to the room for a quick change before the nights festivities. The Travel Agent Forum, in conjunction with the Las Vegas Tourism Board and the Fremont Street Experience, sponsored a unique and fun way to socialize and get outside for a bit. The festivities begun in “Old Las Vegas” known as Fremont Street and although it’s only a short 15 minute drive from The Strip, it feels like a completely different destination. We were provided tickets for complimentary drinks and food at the participating hotels and we made our way around the Fremont Street Experience to collect and enjoy. With live music, cold drinks and delicious snacks, this was a fun and interactive way to not only interact with agents attending the show, but to experience another destination as well.
Organization, registration, events, presentations and transportation were well thought out and executed. CCRA made us feel right at home with their amazing staff and even in the busiest of times, they were available to answer any questions we had.
Whether or not you have visited this show in the past, it is worth a consideration now for any agent that is looking to network and improve their offerings to their clients. With such a great collection of suppliers, vendors and companies, there are hundreds of new opportunities at this Travel Agent Forum, presented by CCRA.