Gifted Travel Network chartered the AmaWaterways River Cruise ship the AmaVerde from Vienna to Budapest for Group Travel Symposium.

This event is the first of its kind in the travel industry. As an innovative host agency focused on cultivating profitable travel advisors, supporting group business strategies is at the core of our mission of helping our members achieve freedom, fulfillment, and financial satisfaction.

"A 5-night river cruise is the perfect setting for a deep dive on this subject," said Chief Sales & Marketing Officer, Vanessa McGovern. "Everyone from the facilitators, partners, and advisor attendees focused on the topic of group travel, making it easy for uninterrupted sessions, networking and brainstorming."

Pictured Above: The GTN Staff with Alex Pinelo (AmaWaterways Corporate), Romeo Luchian (AmaVerde Food & Beverage) and Raul Dederichs (AmaVerde Cruise Director).

Group travel can be a lucrative and rewarding market for travel advisors to tap into. With this being said, there is still a lot to learn and fully understand before diving into this profitable business segment, and that is where Group Travel Symposium comes in.

During this event, 66 GTN advisors participated in live training sessions, networking opportunities with GTN preferred partners, staff, facilitators and colleagues and were able to experience what a group river cruise could look like for their future clients. Each of the live training sessions were conducted by either a GTN staff member, facilitator or preferred partner. The key topics presented include:

How to attract & secure groups

The mechanics of booking a group

How to manage the group

Best practices for working with a group leader

How to best market your group

Destination Weddings

Lessons Learned

Live Training Sessions onboard the AmaVerde.
The feedback received from this event was incredible. Three GTN advisors have shared their experience and key takeaways from this event below:
Deana King
King Travel Design
GTN Advisor Deana King.

I’ll start with some of the general highlights from Group Travel Symposium. Part of my branding for King Travel Design is “luxury and laughter,” and Group Travel Symposium was filled with both!

The laughter was nonstop. It felt more like a vacation and it never felt like work, yet we were really productive. When they talk about the collaboration and community we have with GTN it’s not just words. I truly believe that every staff member, every independent contractor, every supplier would walk through walls for each other. It’s always felt that way from a distance on zoom or calls or whatnot, but it’s really exponential when we get together.

As far as any “aha” moments that I had, honestly it’s really pretty simple. It reinforced with me listening to the other advisors telling their stories how many group opportunities are out there, and how critical it is to have a host. What I found most helpful, was when the panelists were up in front of us and telling it like it is, sharing real life experiences. I took notes the entire symposium and my longest list is “ lessons learned.” The facilitators were so open with us about mistakes they’ve made and best practices that they’ve learned.

The partner I came away most excited about selling is definitely AmaWaterways. The AmaVerde was my first river cruise and I just loved it, and when you love something it makes it so much easier to go sell it to your clients. With AmaWaterways in particular, the leadership and staff are so down to earth and approachable, I’m ready to go sell groups with them!

Dianna Hetzel
Mer Bleue Travel
GTN Advisor Dianna Hetzel.

Group Travel Symposium was amazing! First of all, anytime we all get together – we can have a topic or not have a topic – when we all get together it’s amazing.

The thing that stands out to me is watching everybody give of themselves, give their knowledge, give their time, give the things they’ve worked so hard over a long time to learn, and how they so openly share everything they have with us.

So many new ideas come up when we all get together and start chatting. Give us a topic and just let us go! It’s neat to see how someone will have a question, and someone else will bring over their computer and say “well this is how I do it.”

There was a moment when I just sat back and was just watching everybody. We’re all so different but at the same time there’s this common thread that goes through everybody, and everyone is just sharing in their own way their own information. I’ve always known we were special, but this was really just a moment where it blew up big for me and I could really see it.

The other thing that was really cool was that since graduating from Travel MBA there’s this whole other group you almost forget exists once you join Accelerate. A few I had met because our cohorts overlapped, but many of them were brand new to me. It’s cool when we can get together as a group and these lines blur, and I am so impressed by them. Many of them are so strong and so ahead of the game. It’s neat to have the people who have been in it for a long time mixed with the people who are really new, mixed with the people who are piecing it all together, and everyone brings something a little different to the table. Some of the best ideas and information came from that mix of people.

Patricia Castoro
Acacia & Lime
GTN Advisor Patricia Castoro.

The biggest takeaway for me, and it proves to be true every time I’m on a GTN call (since we don’t get to all be together a lot in person), it’s the power of collaboration and the spirit of giving that this group has. I’ve had a little bit of time in the industry before joining GTN and it just isn’t that way overall. I’m so grateful for a community that wants everyone to be successful. There isn’t competition or jealousy or anything like that, it’s totally collaborative and supportive and positive.

That was my biggest takeaway. Just being together, having time with the partners, because the power of being together in person is real.

I think the most valuable takeaway that I have is from the panel. It was engaging and gave us the opportunity to ask questions and dig into real examples. We were able to hear from different successful advisors and how they’ve booked and worked with groups, and the different examples, I felt like that was the most powerful educational part for me. I really enjoyed making new friends and seeing people in the three dimensional world. I loved the opportunity to do a river cruise, I had never done one and I thought that was a great new experience that now I can market and talk about. It was like seven birds with one stone.