Travel Professionals International (TPI) held its annual conference down in sunny Turks and Caicos this past week.
This year's conference, aptly titled "Level Up," attracted 35 supplier partners, and approximately 300 travel advisors from across Canada. Held at Beaches Turks and Caicos, the conference provided an excellent opportunity for suppliers and TPI's travel advisors to network face-to-face and partake in one-on-one business sessions to learn more about the products and resources available to them.
Speaking at the beginning of the conference, Morris Chia, executive chairman of TPI, welcomed the group saying, “We are delighted to welcome this amazing group of valued advisors and trusted supplier partners; you are all here because you bring value to TPI. We wouldn’t be here without you.”
Several agents, including Carl Henderson and Kelly Klassen, who both agreed that the conference provided an excellent opportunity to network with their travel industry peers, were eager to share their experiences from this year's conference with PAX.
“The TPI Annual Conference is something I rarely miss – having only missed three of them in the 25-year history of the company," Henderson said. "This year, I have particularly enjoyed the Level Up Theme that has had a huge focus on how to move up our businesses. It has my mind churning with various ideas on what my next steps should be, how to continue to grow and thankfully, the opportunity to bounce these ideas off trusted colleagues while I am here."
"TPI’s annual conference awards me the opportunity to meet with my top travel partners from around the world to learn about the most exciting travel experiences for my clients," Klassen added. "I make connections that help me efficiently build my business and to rethink the way I’ve been doing things in the past — what areas can I Level Up in? It doesn’t hurt that our venue was at the gorgeous Beaches Turks and Caicos....what an incredible destination!"
What the suppliers are saying
PAX caught up with several of the suppliers in attendance to see what they had to say about this year's conference.
"Normally we are communicating with these advisors virtually, but for me, it's essential to also have the in-person connection," said Cardona. "Being here there have been countless opportunities to network, have conversations, and find out what we can do to best support each advisor and their individual businesses. Everyone here has been engaged and eager to meet with us, whether during one on one's, roundtable meetings or at the dinner table. We've really valued this opportunity to establish new relationships and continue building the existing ones."
Sandra Gardiner, director of national accounts, AmaWaterways, also enjoyed the opportunity to connect with advisors.
"It was so great to have so many occasions this week to interact with this amazing bunch of advisors," said Gardiner. "They came prepared to talk business strategies and we came up with some wonderful ideas to further grow their individual businesses. Caroline Hay did an amazing job as MC and the days were filled with fun panels, motivational presentations and a fantastic keynote speaker. I was overwhelmed by the engagement of these advisors and how keen they are to learn and grow their respective revenues and databases."
For Maxine Gundermann, market sales manager, Eastern Ontario, Celebrity Cruises, TPI's "Level Up" conference was crucial in allowing her to connect with some of TPI's advisors face-to-face, especially the ones she might otherwise not get the opportunity to meet.
"My favourite part has been connecting with the consultants over dinners and cocktail parties, where we get to know each other better on a personal level, laugh, share great food, and talk about our mutual love for travel," Gundermann said.
The conference also gave Gundermann the opportunity to sit as a panelist and give advice to consultants on best marketing practices.
"Celebrity Cruises has a seamless offering across all destinations around the world called Sail Your Way, and so my presentation was outlining the key points and strategies around this offering, and also highlighting the latest updates about Celebrity Edge Class, and new destinations," Gundermann explained. "From Celebrity Cruises' standpoint, it has been a great way to connect with the TPI travel consultants face to face, who reside all across Canada. The programming offered to the consultants has been a wide variety of topics how to increase their business. We encourage the consultants to engage in social media, identifying and targeting key demographics that match the product offering, taking a look at the return on investment and measuring the impact of their efforts."
Dave Wright, Sunwing's director of sales for Ontario and Atlantic Canada, said he was "delighted" to connect with new agents and longstanding partners.
"The theme of this year’s conference is ‘Level Up’ and our current Vacation Better campaign gives travel agents so many opportunities to do just that if they book with Sunwing, from earning extra commission by pre-booking Sunwing Experiences excursions to maximizing their earnings with our regular STAR points promotions and much more," Wright told PAX.
WestJet (which flies to Providenciales direct from Toronto, as well as out of Western Canada) and WestJet Vacations, which currently has a mix of all-inclusive and condo-style accommodations in its portfolio in destination, including host hotel Beaches Turks and Caicos, also took part in this year's conference.
"TPI’s “Level Up” conference, held in Turks, was both a celebration for an extremely successful 25 years and an education opportunity, which made it a great balance," said Jane Clementino, director, agency sales, WestJet. "Preferred suppliers could mix and mingle with all their advisors to obtain excellent feedback and discuss future opportunities. WestJet and WestJet Vacations were proud to be a platinum sponsor and congratulate the TPI management team on their YOY sales growth and high Advisor engagement."
The TPI "Level Up" conference officially began on Nov. 13, and wrapped up last night with a black-tie Gala evening, followed by an awards ceremony and dinner.
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