Conference this year was at ICC Birmingham, a lovely modern venue right in the heart of the city.
Friday night’s entertainment was Michael McIntyre again after his popularity at our Liverpool conference last year
I arrived on Saturday morning, a couple of minutes late after catching the 06.53 to Birminghm New Street and then ICC was just a few minutes walk from the station
Our main sponsors this year are Beachcomber, Emirates Tours, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Azamara cruises and Complete Cruise Solution which consists of P&O Cunard and Princess cruises. There are many other sponsors, too many to mention, many old favourites and avid supporters of Travel Counsellors and a few new ones
Conference was compered once again by Amanda Lamb who has once again done a fantastic job
Nothing like a Haka to wake us up and it certainly did!! There was a mixed group to teach us a short Haka both words and actions. Haka was originally a preparation for battle, now it is just used for rugby matches and for tourists but is nice to see Maori tradition kept alive
The speeches were shorter this year but more of them which I liked because it gave us different aspects of positive motivation and it kept our attention. I found this year particularly motivational and definitely the one of the best I have attended.
This years theme is World of Travel Counsellors, bold and why not? Travel counsellors is an international company. Now with around 20% growth year on year in our overseas markets in Holland, Canada, Australia and South Africa and also holding up in the UK and Ireland against the trend of travel companies generally
Speakers were Sharon Wright who created Magnamole and wrote a book “Mother of Invention” about her struggles to make her creation successful and overcoming stress and bulimia
We also had a lady from Engine a well known marketing and PR company who has interviewed some Travel Counsellors personally as well as sending an online survey. They have also designed a customer profile pie chart for each of us individually which will help us grow our own businesses by identifying our customer base and finding ways to maximise and increase them with the help of the support we get from our business development at our head office in Bolton
After a nice Buffet lunch and interacting with fellow Tra vel Counsellors, both in the UK and overseas, many of whom I only ever meet at conference, the speeches continued in the afternoon
Allan Pease from Australia who has written several books with his wife, Barbara including top selling “Why men don’t listen and women can’t read maps”. He spoke of Body Language and the difference between men and women in a very amusing way
We also had lots of tips from Jasmine Birtles on how to save money and make it stretch further, these can be found on www.moneymagpie.com
Children were a constant theme as there was a short video about TC Kids and how it has helped Travel Counsellors in the school holidays. TC Kids has been a real bonus in the school holidays and Royal Caribbean kindly subsidised an amazing family day out at Alton Towers. Our chairman and founder David Speakman proudly spoke of his two lovely new grandchildren Luca and Mila. Malcolm also spoke of his beautiful grandson Freddie now a year old. Steve didn’t want to be left out so he also spoke of his three daughters.
As well as kids Travel Counsellors really want involve the whole family into the Travel Counsellors family, so the new TC partners programme has also been very successful and those that have participated have made a real difference to their businesses as they feel more involved and the partners are ambassadors for Travel Counsellors
Paul Speakman, David’s son and IT whizz showed us the latest developments with our Phenix online system, an improved accommodation search including a long awaited map search and many other new innovations and an improved flight search. I can’t wait to use these new functions which will encourage us to make maximum use of Phenix, our revolutionary in house system.
There were several prizes throughout the day and I was lucky enough to win 7 nights all inclusive at Rendezvous, a couples hotel in St Lucia courtesy of Caribtours and Sunswept Resorts
Hyatt hotel is just across the walkway from ICC so we celebrated my friend and colleague, Gillian’s birthday before the Gala dinner
After a gala dinner there were many guesses and the anticipation was electric for the Saturday night act and finally at around 11pm it was announced as Blue
Today is Pow wow where all the suppliers who sponsor our conference have stands with representatives, brochures and giveaways. I really enjoy Pow Wow but unfortunately this year I was only able to go to conference for one day on Saturday. As a Londoner I am in a good position to see most of the suppliers throughout the year at WTM or at various events or catch up with them on Facebook and Twitter, however there are a few that I won’t be able to see and I hope they are enjoying conference too
It was a wonderful day and I am looking forward to our next conference in Liverpool in 2012