Discover Alaska at the Forum!
By Martin Deutsch
January 24, 2013 11:45 PM
The 49th State will be well represented on the training stage at the Home Based Travel Agent Forum, which takes place this spring in Las Vegas. A three-hour Sunday afternoon pre-show program will put the spotlight on Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city, and the multitude of attractions that it shares with the south central region of this country’s northern outpost.
This Alaska session, scheduled for April 28 prior to the full program April 29-May 1, joins two other specialist seminars that afternoon, with one featuring the 50th state of Hawaii and the other, “The Facebook Master Class,” providing travel agent delegates with an unprecedented choice of learning opportunities.
Leading the Alaska delegation is Tania Hancock, tourism sales manager of Visit Anchorage, whose seminar, entitled “Alaska Land and Cruise Adventures,” will allow her to include other destination specialists from her 1,000-member association. Hancock says Visit Anchorage is somewhat smaller than the state’s tourism office and that a major portion of her day-to-day assignment is to work closely with the travel agent communities in the U.S. and Canada.
Hancock’s focus in Las Vegas will be three-fold. First, she will try to dispel misconceptions about her region’s weather and geography. Second, she will share ideas on activities and attractions that are commissionable. And third, she will provide insider tips to help agents stand out as experts. “Selling Alaska usually exceeds people’s expectations,” she says. “There are not a lot of places in the world that exceed people’s imaginations, but Alaska is one of them.” She also offers an example of what she will tell the agents: “They shouldn’t promise on the weather,” she says. “Part of Alaska is a rainforest, so there is a lot of rain…I change their expectations, so that if it doesn’t rain their clients will be pleased.”
Travel agents who attend the Anchorage session will be treated to an unusually provocative prize drawing: At the conclusion of her opening segment, Hancock will invite her audience to complete a 12-question test, which she will review and mark as other presenters take to the podium. Anyone with a grade of at least 77 percent will be eligible to win a fam tour spot, which she will give away on the spot. This prize features four or five days in south central Alaska, airfare included. Visit Anchorage gives away three such fams annually.
Active in the travel industry for the last two decades, Hancock has been with Visit Anchorage for 15 years, and has directed the destination training for the last dozen years, beyond which she introduced an online education program for agents five years ago. “The online destination program came about because so many brick and mortar agents, as well as newcomers, have become home based,” she says. “Since we can’t cover every city and town, it makes more sense to do online training for those agents we can’t always access in person.” The program is available at www.anchorage.net/awe.
Hancock believes the Home Based Travel Agent Forum, which she first attended in Boston in 2011, is a great opportunity to reach the home-based market. “Since agents often choose only one show a year, they’ll usually pick an event that offers great destination training, such as the forum,” she says. “This is very valuable.”
Travel agents can sign up for the Las Vegas Forum by visiting www.LVTravelShow.com. There’s a special Early Bird rate of $70 by using code 5025, good until Jan. 31, after which the rate rises to $99. When they register they receive an email with instructions on how to lock down that $99 suite rate at the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino, which is the site of all the forum’s activities. Suppliers interested in signing up for a booth or getting the latest information on available sponsorships can contact Jim Cloonan, president of Travel Show Marketing Group, at 617-337-5132 or email at Jim@TravelSMG.com. We look forward to seeing you at the Alaska session in Las Vegas!
Martin B. Deutsch is marketing consultant and program director for the Home Based Travel Agent Forum.