Pax Global Media
Independent by Flight Centre's (IFC) 2023 conference welcomed travel advisors from across North America to the white beaches of Punta Cana recently.
Host hotel, the Majestic Colonial, “pulled out all the stops” with a memorable welcome party that culminated with agents leaping into fountains in search of the highly coveted "Indie Bucks" that have become an advisor favourite at IFC conferences, according to a press release.
With more than 50 suppliers on site, participating agents had many opportunities to network, learn and earn Indie Bucks.
This year's theme, "A New Independent Era," was perfectly suited.
"Not only does it highlight the focus Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG) has put on our independent business, but also the changing landscape of the travel industry,” stated Vice-President Anita Emilio. "There is no other host agency in Canada that provides its advisors access to a global ecosystem to grow their business and service their clients or the brand recognition. Our advisors are backed by a renowned travel company that operates all over the world.”
“The other era we acknowledge is the growth of the independent sector in our industry. There will always be a need for retail establishments, but IFC gives advisors the ability to make the world their office. They book cruises while sailing the Mediterranean or flights at 35,000 feet. Their ability to work from anywhere not only makes them more accessible to their clients but allows them to live the life they love...one filled with travel!"
The five-day event provided suppliers and agents one-on-one time together in the featured Laptop Lounge.
Breakout Sessions covered a variety of topics with advisors being able to sign up for the ones that would benefit their business the most and an "Ask the Expert" panel with some of IFC's top advisors moderated by business leader Christal Bauer.
"Our advisors love peer-to-peer learning opportunities" said Bauer. "They are always eager to share their knowledge with each other and this forum allows them to learn from their colleagues and gather proven techniques and tips they can take back to their own businesses to implement."
READ MORE: Anita Emilio named VP & GM of Flight Centre's Independent & Luxury pillars
The General session allowed suppliers to share updates, take part in a panel led by FCTG DEI Manager Emese Graham on sustainability and learn more about increasing DEI awareness in their business, ND's and ChatGPT.
A highlight was when Majestic Resorts team announced complimentary stays for all advisors in attendance resulting in a standing ovation of appreciation.
It was then time to participate in the favourite part of every IFC conference, the "Give Back" session.
Advisors packed over 200 backpacks with school supplies for students in partnership with Fundación PH: Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos.
There were plenty of networking opportunities starting with a Happy Hour Trade Show lauded by both suppliers and agents as "one of the best they have ever attended" proving to be so successful attendees had to be encouraged to leave in order not to miss their reservations for the Dine Around Evening.
There was also plenty of time for play with a patriotic foam party and an "Indies Got Talent" night at Margaritaville with advisors taking the stage showing a wide array of talents.
The conference came to roaring close with a 1920s Gatsby themed gala held at the Dreams Macao celebrating the Independent Award winners in a variety of categories and recognizing the Top Cruise Supplier (Royal Caribbean) and Top Supplier - Agent's Choice (Playa Resorts).
The evening closed out with a raucous auction and advisors using the Indie Bucks they earned to bid on amazing prizes from suppliers with a Viking River Cruise taking the top bid of the night.
The night's winners: