A note from Todd
To my closest member friend:
We’ve been telling you about the features we’ve added to Travel Exchange, and our event in Reno this November will be especially productive and rewarding. The changes include significantly fewer appointment slots, in-person Sales Mission and Best Pitch sessions, extra walking time and all-member breaks during appointments, and an active Sunday afternoon on the TREX Floor.
Here’s an upgrade we just put the final (electronic) touches on, and I think it’s as important as anything we’ve done: enhancements to online profiles. Hey, hear me out! This might sound like a minor tweak, but when used properly, it can reap major benefits for you. These profile improvements are member-driven, with guidance from each membership network and the NTA Board.
Your company’s online profile, viewed by NTA members all year round, is especially scrutinized when it’s time for making appointments at Travel Exchange—and even more so this year, in the aftermath of the pandemic. That’s why it’s so important for you to take advantage of the changes before the appointment-matching system opens in late September. The improvements I’ll describe in a minute are all about getting better-matched appointments at TREX … and making better connections between buyers and sellers throughout the year.
Here’s the way the appointment-making process is supposed to work:
- As “Todd the Seller,” I study your online profile to see if you visit my area and bring the type of travelers I work with. (And you can also study the profiles of sellers you’re considering meeting with.)
- If it’s potentially a good match, I add you to my list of appointment requests. (And hey, you can request me and other sellers, you know.)
- When you receive my request, you study my online profile to see if I am in an area you visit (or would consider visiting), and you see if I offer what your clients want.
- If the match has potential, you add my company or destination to your request list, and the NTA appointment-matching system recognizes this as a perfect match.
- The system fills our schedules with as many perfect matches as it can.
- Then we meet! Smiles, handshakes, and business ensue.
The system can falter on both sides of the equation … twice. If my profile or yours is incomplete or out of date, it might lead to an unproductive match—or a good match that won’t get made. Similarly, the information might be perfect, but if you or I fail to read it, then the match might not be great, or maybe a great match doesn’t happen.
I hope I’ve explained why an online profile can make or break your appointments at Travel Exchange. Now I want to tell you how we’ve made online profiles better.
In your profile, you can and should state clearly where you take travelers and what you’re looking for in a destination. This starts in your organization description, which you can access by clicking “Edit company information.” Here you can describe your primary travel market or traveler type and also summarize where you take groups, e.g., “only the U.S. Northeast,” “mostly in California and contiguous states,” or “wherever a motorcoach can go in North America.” You’ve got 100 words, so make ’em count.
Take a look under “Edit company demographics,” and you’ll see a new category of information: “Restaurant type my company uses.” There are also changes and additions to the list of travel package types you can check.
When you edit destinations, you can block up to eight states and provinces. This only affects the first phase of appointment requests; during the Direct Request phase, all blocks are off. Any blocks you made in the past have been removed, so you’ll need to add them before Sept. 23. And remember, if you clearly describe in your overview where you do package, sellers outside of those areas should understand they will be wasting a request on you.
It’s very likely that your programs are changing, so this series of additions should be helpful: Under “Edit company product needs,” you can tell sellers if you’re open to getting new ideas for specific destinations, outline your planning needs for the next two years, and list your top product priorities for Travel Exchange.
We’ve also improved sellers’ profiles so that you can get additional information from them, including special events and festivals, specific types of travelers a destination serves, and bonus info with links to a profile sheet, group itineraries, or a photo gallery.
Your job is twofold: Update and ramp up the information on your profile, and pay attention to each seller’s online information before you decide whether to add them to your request list, or whether to accept a request from them during the Direct Request phase.
The NTA Board has been instrumental in re-imagining Travel Exchange—especially appointments—and their hope is that you’ll be open to new ideas and welcoming to some of the new DMOs and suppliers who will be in Reno. Our shared goal is to help you create more appointments that are perfect and productive, but even if you get a less-than-ideal appointment, your attention for eight minutes can make a seller colleague feel good about their time at TREX.
I’ll be providing more details about these changes soon, and you can let me know now if you have questions. To start revising your online profile, you (or the primary contact in your organization) can log on to NTA Online, click on “Welcome [your name]” in the upper-right corner, and get to work. And when your appointments and partnerships are better, you can pat yourself on the back!