The USA MegaFam has led to friendships and even romances. Andrew Doherty finds out how such relationships have helped agents better sell group and couples holidays.
We’ve all heard of people making friends on their getaways and holiday romances too. But for agents, can buddying up on an educational getaway make selling group holidays easier or does falling in love while travelling provide inspiration when planning couples itineraries?
We spoke to agents who met on previous Brand USA MegaFams; one a group that have become good friends and another pair who found romance.
We asked whether their experiences have helped them when selling holidays to similar client types.
John Cathersides of Round the World Experts met his girlfriend, Francesca Croucher, when taking part in Brand USA’s 2016 USA MegaFam; however, he admits the pair had already crossed paths before that.
“It’s quite funny really. I say to people that we met on last year’s Lights and Sites itinerary but it turned out we were actually on the 2015 USA MegaFam together and had sat next to each other on the plane but never spoke. It was a bit random – I think fate wanted us to meet.”
Cathersides explains that sparks began to fly between the pair during the Las Vegas portion of the trip.
“I think it was after a couple of days when we started to chat; we’re the same age and both have similar interests. Las Vegas can be pretty crazy and I think for that reason it sort of threw us together.”
Working in the same industry does have its benefits, explains Cathersides. He admits that brainstorming holiday ideas has been made a lot easier since meeting Croucher on the MegaFam. Croucher was originally part of the All Leisure Holidays Group team before recently taking up a cabin crew position with British Airways.
“The good thing about us both working in travel is that we’ve been to different places and have our own ideas about them – the MegaFam allowed us to bounce ideas off each other.”
The pair have already benefited from their combined destination knowledge and are planning a holiday to Hawaii together. And when it comes to recommending getaways for clients, Cathersides is confident that his personal experiences will allow him to make better recommendations for couples.
“I think the USA MegaFam is fantastic because we visited places that couples would enjoy but may not have heard of before. For instance, the finale party was at Huntington Beach and now that’s my go-to recommendation for couples. Now that we’re off to Hawaii, and doing something that I’ve never really thought of before, I will suggest it with confidence to my clients.”
Matthew Woodward, consultant at eShores, became firm friends with Gordon Lawrence, manager at Gazelle Travel, a TTG Top 50 Travel Agencies 2017 store, and Brendan White of Tropical Sky on the 2014 Meet the Mountains USA MegaFam itinerary.
“We got on pretty much straight away and we had really good banter,” says Woodward, “however, we never became a clique and we were friendly with everyone.”
Since the 2014 USA MegaFam, Woodward has been on two more of the trips with White (2015 and 2016) and one with Lawrence (2016).
He recalls a particular standout moment on the 2015 East Coast Classic itinerary when White experienced problems at the airport in Cape Cod.
“Brendan picked up the wrong suitcase at the airport; we opened it up to find that it was full of woman’s clothes. That was really funny as it could have only happened to him.”
Although Woodward admits to certainly having a lot of fun with the guys on past USA MegaFams, he explains that the trips have also been beneficial in selling group holidays.
“In terms of helping clients who are going away as part of a larger group of friends; it helps as we have already experienced it with mates. If you were going with people you didn’t really know it would just feel like a work trip. Because I was on the MegaFam with people I got on so well with, I could see it from the customer’s point of view.”
For groups of friends Woodward recommends looking at what Alaska has to offer.
“I experienced the Alaskan Adventure itinerary in 2016, and from taking in the amazing scenery to just relaxing with a beer with the guys, it is definitely a place I will recommend to my clients looking for something a little different.”