2018 Crystal Conference & Awards Highlights The Value of Travel Agents

Written by: on February 12, 2018

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The unknown often keeps travelers from venturing out into the world. With the right knowledge, skills and connections, a travel agent can bridge this gap, and curate experiences that their clients might not have ever imagined. That is the Value of You — the travel agent — and our theme for the 2018 Crystal Conference and Awards, held January 27th – February 1st.

As we set sail from Fort Lauderdale, agents had the opportunity to snap their photo with Vicki Freed, Royal Caribbean’s International Senior Vice President of Sales, Trade Support and Service, and Rick Zimmerman, KHM Travel Group’s President.

During our welcome reception, our Director of Agent Development and Engagement Marie Smith set the stage for the event. She introduced the Value of You theme, the KHM Travel team members and suppliers on board, and what to expect during the week ahead.

The supplier sessions and trade show the following day gave agents the opportunity to build their knowledge of travel products, and more importantly, establish rapport with our Business Development Managers. Later that evening at the welcome cocktail reception at the ship’s Solarium, each supplier chose the winners of the trade show’s door prizes, which ranged from lavish gift bags to complimentary cruises and resort stays!

For the first time at the Crystal Conference, suppliers could schedule one-on-one appointments with agents during their free time on board. This allowed agents to further take advantage of having so much travel industry expertise at their fingertips throughout the week.

One-on-one sessions and roundtable discussions with KHM Travel staff also gave agents the opportunity to develop their unique value. One-on-one topics included marketing, social media, and business analysis. The roundtable discussions were more conversational, allowing agents to share best practices and tips with each other about bookings, sales, destination weddings, and qualifying clients.

The next morning, the Independence of the Seas docked in Puerto Costa Maya. The Royal Caribbean crew pulled off quite a feat in organizing and executing our group photo on the helipad, especially in the rain!

Puerto Costa Maya presented a number of opportunities for adventure, relaxation and just exploring Mexico’s culture. It’s a popular area for scuba and snorkel, and a gateway to nearby Mayan ruins. And with 70,000 square feet of shopping area brimming with artisan crafts, and local delicacies, it’s completely possible to spend an entire day without losing sight of the ship!

In Cozumel, the second port-of-call, agents could embark on resort site inspections, or take advantage of the many nearby attractions like Chankanaab National Park,or the bustling Playa del Carmen. One-on-one appointments and roundtables were also offered that day, if agents had free time in the morning or late afternoon.

The Crystal Awards ceremony was held Wednesday afternoon back in the majestic Alhambra Theater, and kicked off with a fun twist: a special performance from the ship’s cast of Grease.
We were fortunate enough to have several representatives from industry organizations join us for the Crystal Conference, and each one was given a few minutes to introduce themselves at the awards ceremony.

Patty Noonan, discussed the range of educational opportunities and access to industry minds that The Travel Institute offers. Ann Chamberlin from the American Society of Travel Agents shared some of the organization’s advocacy efforts, and also invited our agents to join her at the ASTA Global Convention in DC. Agents also heard from Charles Sylvia, VP of Membership + Trade Relations for Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). He emphasized the importance of travel agents in the cruise industry, and to the benefits available to KHM Travel Agents, based on our premier agency membership with CLIA.

Another vital source of value for a travel agent is their host agency. In a “Value of Us” panel, our Executive Team members plus Marie Smith and Bill Coyle shared the motivation behind the resources, tools, and programs we develop for our agents. Rick summed up our team’s true value, which is our genuine passion for helping our agents succeed.

“There’s a creativity, along with care and compassion, that I don’t think you can find anywhere else,” Rick added.

KHM Travel Group staff and suppliers recognized our top-performing agents of 2017 in style. Congratulations again to all of our agents on an outstanding year! See who took home a Crystal Award for 2017 in our announcement post here.

During the ceremony, we also revealed big news via a video from John Chernesky, Vice President of North America Sales for Princess Cruises. He was excited to announce that our 2019 Crystal Conference and Awards would be held February 9-14 on the Ruby Princess out of Los Angeles!

Special thanks to our hosts, Royal Caribbean, for making this an unforgettable week for KHM Travel Agents and staff. We’d like to thank all of our agents and supplier partners who were in attendance, and hope everyone made it home safely! There are too many highlights to capture here, but please feel free to share your favorite moments in our Agent-Only Facebook groups!

Check out our collection of Flickr albums, and our professional photographer’s site to download and order prints from this memorable event.  You can also head over to our Facebook page to see more of our live posts from the Crystal Conference.

You could even be at next year’s Crystal Conference and Awards! Request more information about becoming a travel agent from home with KHM Travel Group by filling out the form on the right or by calling 1-888-611-1220.