Vacation.com’s 17th annual Canadian fall regional conferences and trade shows saw record-breaking attendance numbers so far this year, with its first event in Markham hosting more than 100 agents and 37 suppliers, and its Toronto event welcoming 161 agents, as well as an all-time high of 47 suppliers.
The conference is designed to provide Vacation.com members with a collective space to hear the latest on the organization, as well as sit in on training sessions and network with industry peers at a trade show and reception.
This year’s event featured special guest speaker Denise Harper, director of sales, Canada for G Adventures, who spoke to agents on the topic of marketing effectively to Millennials, a hot topic and growing subject of interest to many industry professionals.
John Lovell, president of Vacation.com, was in Toronto for the event, and took a moment to speak with PAX regarding its website, which was unveiled earlier this year with a new consumer-directed interface, and the various ways in which it has been setting up its members for success in 2015.
“We’ve always had this wonderful ‘vacation.com’ URL that we never really leveraged until May of this year,” he explained. At the time of the site’s launch, the organization set a goal to have 1500 agent profiles online by the end of the year. As of October 2015, there are more than 1,600, with 2,000 in the pipeline.
With that in mind, Lovell said that a focal point of the conferences has been examining how to attract new, younger talent to the industry, how to retain that talent, and how to engage it, as the Vacation.com website is not a transactional site, and has no intention of becoming so.
“Our transaction is our members,” he said. “Our biggest asset organizationally is, and always has been, are the agents, and it’s about driving traffic to them, the people who actually sell travel.”
In the interest of providing its members with the resources to reach their business potential, Vacation.com intends to continue providing relevant and unique content to agents, as well as continuing to encourage the use of Agent Snapshot, a tool that allows member agents to showcase themselves and their travel experiences using a bio written by Vacation.com’s full-time writer, and a professional headshot.
According to Christine James, vice-president, Canada for Vacation.com, another objective in the works is to encourage agents to obtain reviews from their clients, to be displayed on their profile, by way of a simple email link – all in the name of helping members find ways to improve their business.
Considering the increase in attendance, which Lovell stated has been on a steady increase year-over-year, it would seem Vacation.com’s efforts toward supporting its members are being recognized as an asset, with James pointing out that agents are taking time out of their work day to attend the conference.
But for Lovell, the goal is not so much about recognition as it is engagement.
“Any event we have, we want to make sure we’re bringing them something new to think about, be it a new business concept or marketing idea,” he said. “That’s the business development side. The other side is to encourage engagement with us. The more you engage with us, the more you’re going to sell and develop your business.”
Growth in a Vacation.com agent’s business is, after all, the organization’s bread and butter.
“Our success starts and ends with them,” Lovell said of the company’s biggest asset. “If our suppliers aren’t growing and our agents aren’t growing, we don’t grow.”
Vacation.com’s regional conference events will continue on to Western Canada with a stop in Calgary on Oct. 20, and in Richmond, BC on Oct. 22.
For more information on Vacation.com, visit here.