If there’s one thing members of the travel industry agree on, it’s that in-person events are an important aspect of the job. The motivation, new ideas and insights that are born out of in-person collaboration aren’t easily found elsewhere.

In 2020, travel advisors had to adapt in a big way in order to stay afloat. Online conferences were in many cases the only option, and agents had to make do and get the most out of these virtual events.

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Although advisors were thankful this was an option throughout the last year, they still felt in-person events are second to none. Several travel agents jumped on the first FAM they could, and many have welcomed supplier trainings and other in-person opportunities.

In-person meetings and events won’t come without their challenges, but it’s time to get back out there. Conferences have successfully kicked off this year throughout the travel industry, and attendees are back to gaining all the new knowledge, ideas and other positive results that come from networking.

“It is important for travel advisors to safely get back to attending in-person events and conferences because we first want to set the example for our customers, and second we do receive value from the in-between moments of networking in the hallways or just after we hear speakers. It’s happening right now across the world and you can get back into the swing of things and benefit too,” said Stephen Scott, a travel advisor with Pro Travel International.

In addition to networking with others at the event, attendees also gain a boost of energy which is usually great for business.

“Being in person provides such positive energy that you cannot achieve virtually. We are in this industry because we love to engage with people. Together we are stronger and being back in person shows the community our support and confidence that we can do this safely,” said Andrea Wright, Vice President of Travel Industry Sales, Playa Hotels & Resorts.

Collaborating at a conference
Collaborating at a conference. (photo via monkeybusinessimages / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Hilton recently shared expert advice to ease any pre-conference jitters that may arise in anticipation of the event and avoid feeling like a newbie again. The hotel company said that being prepared and having everything planned out ahead of time is key, from transportation reservations to downloaded apps. Other tips include holding back on the hugs and handshakes, having patience as things look different now and recharging afterwards.

Scott advised attendees to stay home if they’re feeling covid-related symptoms and have contactless options for sharing information at conferences, such as a digital business card with a QR code for others to scan the information.

“We can reduce the exchange of germs that way, and you might be surprised with the positive lift in social media following from this option,” Scott shared.

Sharing contact information and networking
Sharing contact information and networking. (photo via VioletaStoimenova / getty images)

Wright encourages attendees to get excited about the opportunity to meet in person, but also be prepared with the necessary equipment: “Know the protocols of where you’re going, pack your mask and hand sanitizer and above all bring your smile and witty personality, as humans were craving it!”

Virtuoso outlined the industry’s ‘Conscious Comeback’ at its event last week, and the ASTA Global Convention kicked off earlier this week, with more industry events lined up for the fall.

The benefits that come from collaborating at an in-person event are endless, and it’s not just the immediate results. Travel advisors can take the energy with them and implement the new ideas throughout the weeks and months after the event.

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