Gifted Travel Network's Travel MBA Alum, Bianka Salvador of Zorka's Travel was one of 85 U.S. travel advisors invited to attend the K-Contents, Korea Travel Fair in Seoul, South Korea. Once Salvador accepted her invitation, she was informed by the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, as well as the Korean Tourism Organization that she was hand-selected to join their team on stage during the opening ceremony and speak during this event.
So how did this amazing opportunity transpire? We spoke directly with Salvador to hear her story.
About two years ago, she was in the process of developing her website and started speaking with the Korean Tourism Organization. A place that is near and dear to her heart, not only personally but professionally; she has a lot of connections to the Korean community and thus wanted to showcase this destination on her website.
"My web designer was showing me a few photos we could use for my website," said Salvador. "They were not the best representation of South Korea, so I started to research on my own and reached out to the Korean Tourism board directly for help. They were so welcoming, and to this day, the images on my site are still the ones they provided."
As Salvador continued to stay in contact with the board, they reached out to ask if she would be interested in becoming a certified South Korea specialist (certified by the board to specialize in selling South Korea). She did, and throughout the past two years, once her website was completed, she reached out to her contact at their Korean Tourism Organization, Marketing Manager, Patrice Henry, to ask if she could use their logo on her site. Henry explained when it comes to selling luxury travel; websites must be vetted by the board in order to contain the logo. Once the website was complete, Salvador sent it to Henry to start the process.
"She called me back and loved everything about my website, loved it so much she was reciting every part of it back to me, from the bio page to the itinerary showcasing South Korea," said Salvador. "To this day, she is still talking about it."
Not even a few hours later, Salvador received an email in the middle of the night from Henry inviting her to attend the K-Contents Travel Fair in Seoul, South Korea, plus a familiarization trip (FAM) after the travel fair. Before she left, Henry reached out and asked if Salvador would like to be a part of the opening ceremony and join the board on stage.
"When I heard this news, I was like, oh my gosh, what did I get myself into," said Salvador. "I was so scared at first, but the GTN team was phenomenal in supporting me. Chief Membership Officer, Sandy Saburn met with me before I left, and we went over everything. My keynote, scenarios, and she calmed me down while reassuring that everything was going to go smoothly."
Once Salvador arrived, she was treated like a VIP. After her keynote, she was escorted to meet with local representatives of luxury properties which included the Conrad, Fairmont, and Four Seasons. These representatives were eager to "show off" their properties to a Virtuoso and GTN-affiliated advisor.
"This whole experience really reminded me why I chose to be with GTN," said Salvador. "Sandy spent so much time with me calming my nerves and reassuring me. Even though I’m just starting off in the industry, they really gave me that push I needed to get up on that stage. I just couldn’t have done it without you all."