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Friday,  May 17, 2024 9:16 PM 

“Learn, connect & grow”: Advisors, suppliers talk strategy at TravelOnly’s Symposium at Sea

“Learn, connect & grow”: Advisors, suppliers talk strategy at TravelOnly’s Symposium at Sea
TravelOnly’s 2024 Symposium at Sea took place aboard the Enchanted Princess. (Supplied)
Michael Pihach

Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

TravelOnly’s Symposium at Sea returned to the Caribbean Sea last month, bringing together 87 travel advisors and 13 suppliers for a week of fun, learning and networking aboard the Enchanted Princess, which debuted in 2019.

The cruise-centric conference from April 20-27 – which included stops in Princess Cays in the Bahamas; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and St. Thomas, Virgin Islands – offered up insightful workshops, industry-leading speakers, and valuable one-on-one opportunities.

The agents who attended were a mix of top producers, newbies and everyone else in between, the host agency said. 

TravelOnly advisors Doug Roffel, Don Terris, Brenda Slater, Nancy Wilson & Terry Declare. (Supplied)

“Symposium at Sea offers advisors a valuable opportunity to learn, connect, and grow in their careers,” Gregory Luciani, TravelOnly’s president and CEO, told PAX. “It serves as a platform for professional development, networking, and inspiration within TravelOnly.”

Luciani noted that cruise is “the fastest-growing segment of our overall business.”

READ MORE: “It’s almost unreal”: TravelOnly celebrates 50 years at TADA awards in T.O.

“If advisors want to earn higher profits and have greater client satisfaction, then they should sell more cruises. There is a cruise for everyone,” he said.

Advisors participate in a Bunny Pub Hop. (Supplied)

Star suppliers in the spotlight 

This year’s Symposium at Sea featured an all-star line-up of speakers, including Tina Kensett of Air Canada Vacations, Tameka Wharton of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Investment Board, Anthony Iozzia of Atlas Ocean Voyages, Marilisa De Simone of Carnival Cruise Lines, Samantha Gillingham of Club Med Canada, Diana Winters of Exoticca, Hilary Brown of Globus Family of Brands, Karen Salviato of Manulife, Bret Gove of Princess Cruises, Bruce Metzendorf of Riviera River Cruises, Gary Armstrong of Rocky Mountaineer, Ernie Balint of Uniworld Boutique River Cruises and Rosalynn Domdom of Virgin Voyages.

Group Breakout sessions. (Supplied)

Others provided useful insights on branding and marketing – Don Terris shared tips and trick on ways to utilize YouTube, while Marc Geuzinge presented a workshop on how to take captivating photos.

The Symposium also doubled as a fundraiser for Boost Child & Youth Advocacy Centre, a community-based organization that responds to child abuse investigations.

Luxury & insurance 

In terms of identifying “ah ha” moments, Luciani said this year’s event unlocked valuable lessons in understanding the luxury cruise market, as well as insurance.  

“The luxury segment of the travel industry is underserved and there is a massive gap in understanding how important travel insurance is in today’s dynamic and complex world,” he said.

Sound advice 

Luciani's advice to attendees is to put the knowledge they gained from the Symposium into action.

“Whether it's new sales techniques, destination insights, or technology tips, take steps to integrate this knowledge into your daily work routine,” Luciani said.

He recommends agents follow up with all the new contacts they made at the Symposium, and continue to stay informed about industry trends, developments, and best practices.

TravelOnly & Princess Cruises Group dinner with Ann & Greg Luciani (centre), Grace Wong (TravelOnly), Bret Gove (Princess Cruises), Cindy Botehlo (Princess Cruises), Shannon Smith (TravelOnly), Leia Marvin (TravelOnly) and Sarah Smith. (Supplied)

“Subscribe to industry publications, participate in webinars, and engage with online communities to stay up-to-date with the latest news and insights,” Luciani said.

At the same time, he encouraged agents to embrace change and innovation in the industry. “Use the knowledge gained at the Symposium to identify opportunities for growth, adapt to changing consumer preferences, and innovate your business practices,” Luciani said.

Sharing knowledge with colleagues and peers is another way to learn and grow, he added. “Organize a debrief session or training workshop to disseminate key takeaways and best practices within your organization or network,” Luciani said.

Finally, he recommended that advisors set actionable goals, seek feedback from clients, colleagues, and industry contacts on business strategies, stay connected with the Symposium community and engage with future industry events, conferences, and networking opportunities.

“Building and nurturing relationships within the industry is key to long-term success,” he said.

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