Days before any travel industry event begins, I can tell you how the first hour goes. There will be lots of people reconnecting with friends they see just a few times a year – or maybe only once at a particular industry outing. There will be new people who are a bit apprehensive because they don’t know anyone and aren’t sure what to expect. And, of course, there are lots of people who fall somewhere between these groups.But by the end of the event, new friendships have formed, lots of business cards have been exchanged, and promises to stay in touch have been made. And that’s where the magic happens.There is absolutely no substitute for connecting with other people in your industry. The travel industry is all about relationships. If you need help – and you are guaranteed to need help – it’s important to have the right people to reach out to. And people you meet at these events can fill that role for you. You learn from them, they learn from you, and you are both better because of it.Unfortunately, I just have to add a bit of caution here. There are a lot of “travel agents” out there who do not have a clue about what they are doing. Sorry to be so blunt, but it’s true. If you want proof just visit one of the many groups on Facebook dedicated to travel agents. There are a few I am a member of and I have seen posts from people that actually make me fearful for the client of that “travel agent”. Sadly, you can just sign up with many host agencies who only care about having the largest number of “agents” possible and not about the quality of those agents.Thankfully there are LOTS of great travel agents in the industry. And so many of them are very happy to help their colleagues. They learn from one another. They share information and resources. And the best way to connect with these people is in person. You make a different type of connection than you can online.And one other thing, the vast majority of you probably work at home. And sometimes it gets lonely working in isolation. Having someone you can chat with who “gets” what you do is so refreshing. I’ll bet many of you have experienced that. Sure, your family and friends want to support you and are there for you when you need a friendly ear, but there is nothing like talking to someone who understands your war stories.So, why don’t people get out and go to events? For some they feel like they can’t afford it. That’s a short-sighted view because you have to invest in your business. One of the worst things to happen to the travel industry is that the start-up costs are so low. It is great that it allows people without a lot of capital to start their own business, but it also makes you less successful because you don’t have the funds to invest in the tools you need.For others it is because they don’t think they can’t take the time away from their office. The reality is that’s not true. If you are so busy working IN your business that you can’t step away to work ON your business, you need a new management strategy. If you are always the travel agent and never have time to be the travel agency owner, you aren’t going to be very successful. That’s a recipe for working a lot of hours and making very little money.For 2019 I encourage you to commit to getting out and connecting with your peers. Find some great people who can challenge you to reach new heights. Share information and connect. You will be happier in your business, and your business will be more successful.