By: Kaylee Jaeger, Fox World Travel Marketing Coordinator
Shifting industries or career paths can be a challenge. But when you jump into the travel industry on the tail end of a global pandemic, that might be feel downright crazy. But that’s what I did. I started in the Marketing Department of Fox World Travel in May of 2021 and was immediately tasked with planning Fox’s presence at GBTA, which had been postponed from July to November. It was a smaller event, being the first one since the pandemic and we were primarily focused on sending our business travel leaders and the sales team to the event, therefore, I did not attend myself.
In the beginning of the new year, I began planning for GBTA 2022, which was to be held in sunny San Diego in August. I had a much longer runway to plan this year and was able to attend along with the rest of the Fox team. I had never attended GBTA before and picked up a few tips and tricks from this year’s convention.
Over 25% of attendees this year at GBTA were first time attendees. So, I was definitely not alone! Since the travel industry was so greatly impacted by the global pandemic, it has seen a lot of turnover in the last couple years. Due to this, we have travel colleagues with varying backgrounds and new and innovative ideas. Below are my experiences and take-aways as a GBTA first-timer.
What stood out most to me was the keynote from the Business Transformation Session and Lunch on Monday, August 15. The keynote speaker was Cynthia Marshall, CEO of the Dallas Mavericks. I found her inspiring as she shared her very personal story about how she achieved her success, despite many obstacles she had to overcome. She also emphasized the importance of family and a good support system, and I believe this is pivotal when moving forward in your career. Cynthia’s story really motivated me to make the most of my first GBTA and transitioned my way of thinking for the remainder of convention to look at each obstacle (and there will always be obstacles even if it isn’t your first rodeo) as an opportunity for growth.
My tips and tricks on how to navigate convention as a first timer:
- Find an industry buddy – I was part of a nine-person team of GBTA veterans and worried about being the only one without close industry connections and vast industry knowledge to assist in growing my network while at convention. Focus on expanding your connections in the months leading up to convention so when you arrive you have a friend to call on. *wink, wink… you always have a friend at Fox.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions – Whether you are planning an event like me, or attending as a supplier or buyer, there are processes and activities that are specific to trade shows. So, don’t be afraid to raise your hand.
- Get the lay of the land – I arrived on Saturday, August 13, for GBTA 2022. Most of the convention activities were kicking off the following day. Arriving on Saturday allowed me to explore the hotel, convention center, and expo floor before the thousands of attendees arrived on site.
- Attend the convention Welcome Reception – I mean… yummy food and drinks are reason enough, but also it is a great chance to meet people in a laid-back atmosphere. Even if you are attending alone, the welcome reception is a busy enough event that you aren’t out of place just joining a table and introducing yourself.
It was a great GBTA event and I’m looking forward to Dallas in 2023! If you are looking for a buddy, connect with me on LinkedIn.
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