Travel insights from Andrea Sedlacek, editor of The Compass

The 2018 Summit Underscored the Importance of Agent Education

The Mark Travel Corporation’s 2018 Summit event was one for the books. It was my first experience there and even though I’ve heard plenty of coworkers’ and agents’ past experiences, actually being there and seeing what it’s all about really made a big impression on me. I finally got it, and I loved it.

I have a love-hate relationship with clichés, but Summit really lives and breathes “work hard, play hard.” Obviously it’s fun to escape to Mexico (especially when it’s 40 degrees in Wisconsin), but this event is not just about fun. My main takeaway from the event was that agents take it pretty seriously. It’s a big learning opportunity for them and they don’t want to waste any time.

With two full days of workshops, there’s plenty to do, and the topics cover everything needed to be a successful travel professional, from developing a customer segmentation strategy to using user-generated content to supplier-led brand training. I was lucky enough to lead a workshop with Luke Gibson, the director of VAX. It was my first time doing something like that and I had no idea what to expect. Our workshop was titled “Navigate to the Compass: Leveraging Rich Content to up Your Game and Engage with Customers,” and we used our workshop to empower agents to market themselves in a new way: by using content. That means publishing articles or blog posts about your business and your experiences to reach clients.

Outside of the workshops, everywhere I turned, there was a learning opportunity. From the site inspections, to the Hawaii Tourism Authority’s general session presentation to the nightly events – education and information was everywhere.

This idea of continuing education for travel professionals is so, so important. Brian Robb, chairman of The Travel Institute, emphasizes the importance of continuing education either formally by attending college courses, or informally by just simply reading. For Beth Kitzman, VAX’s BDM, her life revolves around agent education, as she travels far and wide to help agents develop not only their VAX knowledge, but their overall industry expertise. Even in her downtime at these events, she’s helping agents learn, as she did at Nexion’s annual CoNexion event. You really have to take advantage of every opportunity out there to stay up on your game, in this industry that is always changing.

What’s your commitment to professional development? Tell us in the comments below.

About the Author

As the managing editor of The Compass on VAX, Andrea is dedicated to delivering valuable, fun and, most importantly to this punctuation lover, grammatically correct content to her readers. Her experience writing and editing in the retail and insurance industries made the move to travel one of the most exciting things to happen in her career. What's the next most exciting thing for her? Whenever the newest edition of the AP Style book comes out.

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