Face time crucial at Beaver Creek trade show | VailDaily.com

Face time crucial at Beaver Creek trade show

CVR Mountain Travel KA 4-4-11

BEAVER CREEK, Colorado – We may live in an increasingly virtual world, but there’s still no replacement for a handshake.

Need proof? Look no further than this week’s annual Mountain Travel Symposium, held this year at Beaver Creek. During the symposium’s “trade exchange” days, hundreds of people in the business of buying and selling rooms and vacation packages are engaged in a flurry of face-to-face meetings.

Monday, Gerald R. Ford Hall was packed with tables, and people wandering from table to table between appointments. It was tough work – by mid-afternoon, one hotel representative hit a barstool in the lobby with an audible sight.

But why do this, when a meeting is as easy as a Skype connection and Webex is available for multimedia presentations?

“We’re in contact by phone and email with our clients so much of the year, that even a 10-minute (in-person) contact is important,” said David Yoo of Travelocity.

Dave Treece was at the symposium to represent the Best Western Brand. Beyond just the impression a handshake can make, Treece and co-worker Eric Miller had plenty of literature for the lodges they represent.

“There are a lot of international companies here,” Treece said. “They can pick and choose (online), but without the opportunity for a face-to-face meeting, you can’t make an impression.”

And, with the ability to close a deal at the table, Treece said his company can be on a company’s website almost immediately.

Given the way many people’s email in-boxes can fill up, Patti Lincoln said getting a handshake in, even during a quick meeting, can be the difference between even a quick read or an immediate trip to the “delete” file.

Lincoln represents Travel Agency Magazine, a business-to-business publication for the travel business.

“Face to face meetings are a huge component of what we do,” said Chris Coon, also of Travel Agency Magazine.

To that end, the magazine and its parent company put together and attend numerous trade shows every year.

“People still want that contact,” Coon said.

The Mountain Travel Symposium also makes it a point to set up shop in a different resort every year. The event was last in Vail in 2008, with stops at Keystone and Banff before returning to Beaver Creek.

“It’s an opportunity for a resort to show off a little bit,” said Brady McCarthy of Orbitz Worldwide. “They can put their best product on display for everyone in the industry.”

And, while the ski industry operates around the globe, the business is relatively small.

“The ski industry is really close-knit,” said Rebecca Sharpe of Travelocity. “Even competitors can be friends, so it’s a great chance for everyone to get together.”

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or smiller@vaildaily.com.

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