TravelManagers held a supplier market day in Sydney recently, bringing together 36 partner suppliers and fifty personal travel managers (PTMs) for a long-anticipated opportunity to connect and catch up.
Originally scheduled to take place in June 2020, the two-year delay inflicted by the pandemic meant that there was a decidedly festive atmosphere at the event, which was held at Sydney’s Grace Hotel.
TravelManagers’ executive general manager, Michael Gazal, said the format of the day was deliberately informal, allowing attendees to focus on talking to the suppliers that were most relevant to their individual customer bases.
This approach was appreciated by suppliers and PTMs alike: by not allocating set times that each PTM could spend with a supplier, they were free to maximise their time in the way that best suited.
“I loved the fact that the event was free-form but well organised, so we were able to really connect with the suppliers, beyond just getting a product update or USP pitch,” said Nic Loisel, who is TravelManagers’ representative for Philip, ACT.
“My only regret is that the time flew by too quickly! It was a fantastic event, and it was 100 per cent worthwhile travelling up to attend. It was also great to meet a few more PTMs and some more of the National Partnership Office (NPO) team.”
Loisel’s fellow ACT-based PTM, Michael Perrone, agreed that having so many suppliers under one roof was a fantastic initiative, providing an ideal opportunity to reconnect with some he had not seen in a long time and making new connections with others.
“Despite how cold it was in Canberra, I got such a warm welcome in Sydney from the NPO team and fellow PTMs that made me feel great. I hope it will happen again – maybe even more than once a year.”
Among the suppliers to attend was Livio Goetz of Switzerland Tourism, who also appreciated the opportunity to catch up with so many PTMs in one place.
“How wonderful it was to have so many conversations about actual travel to Switzerland! The interest was huge, everyone was keen to learn more about Switzerland, and the free-flow format worked really well,” Goetz said.
NPO team has already received numerous requests to make the market day a regularly recurring event.
The importance of maintaining strong (and ideally face-to-face) relationships with suppliers was cemented for PTM Carolyn Burgmann by her catch-up with an airline partner during the day.
“I had received word from some clients that morning that they had missed a connecting flight and were facing a long delay for their replacement flight,” Burgmann said.
“It was their first major overseas experience, they were already exhausted and really just needed some reassurance.
“I mentioned our email exchange to the airline rep when we were catching up, and within minutes she had arranged for them to have access to the business class lounge at the airport where they were delayed.
“What started out as a nightmare to their dream trip turned into a great story about their experience in getting to the Big Apple.”
Gazal says suppliers were generous in their support of the market day, not only by their attendance but with the giveaways they made available to participants.
“Among the prizes on the day was a Virgin Voyages cruise for two adults from Barcelona, which will be drawn later in June. Hoot Holidays gave away a five-night stay at Le Meridian Khao Lok, a five-night stay at Phuket Marriott and a three-night stay at Warwick Fiji.”
The market day also served as an opportunity to acknowledge a number of milestones: five PTMs celebrated their five-year anniversaries with TravelManagers, while three more celebrated their ten-year anniversaries.
“We also had one of our newest PTMs in attendance, having only started with TravelManagers a couple of days earlier,” Gazal adds. “PTMs travelled to Sydney for the market day from as far away as ACT, Dubbo and Forster, while supplier Wendy Wu came all the way from London to attend.”
Gazal says the market day represents just one element of a wider programme of activity which the NPO team have planned to ensure PTMs are well informed on the post-COVID situation and tourism offerings in various destinations.