It depends. The answer is an emphatic YES, if you are in a long term, committed relationship with your host agency or franchise. (Sound a little like a romantic relationship?)
The answer is no if you are unhappy with your host or franchise and don’t feel that they make a good partner for your business. And if you DO feel that way, I certainly hope your intention is to find and move to a better partner within the next 3 months. Otherwise, you are not treating your business with the respect it deserves. If you don’t know if you are happy or not with your host or franchise, read another #AskMeredith article, How To Choose the Right Host Travel Agency.
OK, so now that we’ve established that, let’s move on to WHY you should absolutely attend your host agency’s or franchise’s annual conference when you become a travel agent.
There are 2 major reasons to attend:
1. The Football Huddle:
Your host agency or franchise is your partner in business. You and they are on the same team. At least once a year, you need to “have a huddle.” In other words, at least once a year, you need to refresh yourself with the tools, resources and support they have to offer. You need to learn about new things on the horizon. You need to connect and network with the management and support teams. You need to connect with and share ideas with fellow members or franchisees. You need to tap into why you got into this business in the first place.
2. The Speed Date:
You can’t do your job well if you don’t have a good handle on or relationship with the excellent suppliers at your disposal. And your host agency or franchise spends a large portion of the year filtering out the good from the not-so-good, developing the relationship for you, negotiating commission and amenities, and then some. Your annual conference is your chance to take that relationship the host or franchise has developed and extend it to the end user – you. You’re on the front line, making the sales everyday. In the day-to-day of your business, you don’t have time to dedicate to relationship building with your suppliers and that’s why a good host or franchise does that for you. So the annual conference is your opportunity to start and nurture that relationship. The “speed date” meeting format, where a day or two of the conference is dedicated to mini meetings between supplier and travel seller is now the norm. It is a whirlwind, but also quite effective because you get to look your supplier rep in the eye, shake his or her hand to make a real connection and then learn about what they have to offer and how they can help you be better.