The Australian Travel Agents Co-operative (ATAC) got the gang back together for its annual conference where members, suppliers and guests caught up and shared ideas on how to go forward.
With an esteemed line-up of travel industry stalwarts, innovative speakers and even a passionate speech from Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie, the ATAC Future Focus conference, MC’d by the charismatic Michael Pope, lit up Hotel Realm in Canberra.
ATAC’s chairman, Jack Taylor, said he was thrilled with the turn out and highlighted the enthusiasm of attendees.
“To really bring back our full red carpet, as we like to call it, the conference has been super exciting and we’re really happy with all the progress of our members,” he told Travel Weekly.
“When we looked at the program this year… We wanted our agents, and in turn our partners, to be able to leave with actionable outcomes from the conference. Whether it’s through the marketplace… And giving our members the excitement to sell a new product or deepen their partnership with an existing one, or whether it’s to go and try AI for the first time and demystify that.”
The program’s diversity of presentations included discussions of AI, marketing tours, NDC, cruising and attendees heard from an array of suppliers including Intrepid, Singapore Airlines, The Travel Corporation and many more.
Michelle Emerton, the general manager of ATAC, said this year’s conference sparked particular interest due to the recent change at the co-operative that saw the introduction of a fee-based and tiered level of remuneration for members.
“This year we developed our Business Evolution Plan – we will introduce fees and give our members opportunity to earn more by supporting preferred partners. Many members are here to learn more about those changes & understand how they can change their habits to benefit their business financially. Our members understand co-operative values & understand if we work together as one – all will succeed,” Emerton said.
And Emerton said that the response from attendees this year was fantastic, telling Travel Weekly that she had “never had as many compliments as what we’ve had this year.”
“Suppliers and members are impressed with this years agenda, it delivers for everyone & that’s the intent. We are true to our tag line – Partners in your prosperity”, she said.
“There’s something for everyone and almost every session they walk into they’re taking valuable information away, that will assist in their business, which for us, is a triumph for conference.”
ATAC members Kristy Moore, the owner of Travel Moore, and Rebecca Mason, owner of Mr. Chocolate’s Travel, both said they particularly got a better understanding of Virgin Voyages from the conference and felt some clarity on how to best utilise the cruise line’s offerings.
Mason particularly praised the line-up and said she was grateful she attended despite being quite busy (as many agents can surely relate).
“Because I’m so busy, I didn’t feel like I had the time to come here. But now that I’m here I’m so glad because I’ve met new suppliers, new friends and colleagues,” she said.
“I feel like I’ve got so many new ideas and I can go back and feel refreshed and validated.”
Of course, it wouldn’t be a travel agent’s conference without an evening soiree or two. Attendees got together on the first night at the National Portrait Gallery for a dinner with gorgeous artwork, a vibrant atmosphere and a bit of magic from the MC Pope himself.
And the final night saw everyone get dolled up for the Gala Dinner in Hotel Realm with lots of prizes and awards given out and some kind words from ATAC members and sponsors.
Stay tuned for more photos from the conference in days to come.
(Featured Image: Attendees at the ATAC Future Focus conference – Ben Appleton/Photox – Canberra Photography Services)