The travel agency community has, for some time, returned to hosting in-person events.
For example, Signature Travel Network recently held its 2021 conference in Las Vegas, attracting 1,142 advisors. Of the attendees, just over 400 had never attended a Signature conference before. Nearly 600 suppliers took part.
It was great to meet up in person, Signature CEO Alex Sharpe said in a recent webinar. But one thing Signature won’t forget over the past couple of years is the value of virtual meetings.
“You know, in the past it was like you come to Vegas or that’s it, there’s nothing else,” he said.
Now, however, everyone from the most tech-savvy teens to their grandparents are familiar with technologies like QR codes and Zoom meetings that have become so ubiquitous as the pandemic unfolds, has Sharpe said.
“We have to take advantage of these things,” Sharpe said. “Yes, we have to come back in person. But at the same time, we also need to really understand how to complement face-to-face meetings with virtual elements. “
Sharpe said Signature plans to continue offering things like virtual training, but advisors should also remember to keep virtual tactics in their sales kits going forward.
“Your customers are not all local,” he said. “They don’t all come into your office or meet you at the cafe.”
For these clients, using a video conferencing tool to browse opportunities or routes is “an incredible sales tool,” he said.
Holding virtual meetings or events has been boosted by the pandemic, but advisers have more than proven their worth.
For example, a group of agents from the Gifted Travel Network used virtual events to fill places on upcoming group trips, run by themselves. (To hear the agents themselves how they did it, check out this episode of Trade Secrets, the podcast I co-host with TravelAge West’s Emma Weissmann.)
Largay Travel in Waterbury, Connecticut, invited clients and advisors to Zoom rooms where vendors came every 10 minutes to talk about their destination or product. As a result, at least one new client started working with the agency.
And Jen Campbell Boles, owner of Explore More Family Travel in Cornelius, NC, has teamed up with a friend to sell kits that accompany virtual events and enhance the experience.
These are three of the countless examples of successful virtual events held over the past two years. Remember these successes or log off from the computer, just because in-person meetings can happen again. The two complement each other well as a sales tool.
Or, as Sharpe said, virtual events are “something that we shouldn’t be eliminating now that we can pack our bags in person. We can’t forget these things.”