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Donna Alkarmi on GTM West: Connections made helped boost sales exponentially

From the organizers of Global Travel Marketplace (GTM) comes a series of articles about Travel Weekly's invitation-only conference -- here, a profile of Donna Alkarmi, one of the travel professionals who is attending the event this summer. For more information about GTM and GTM West, including how to apply, click here.

Donna Alkarmi, owner of Lonestar Travel in Dallas, is a member of the GTM Advisory Board and will be attending GTM West this year as both a veteran and a GTM success story. She attributes the growth of her business to the networking opportunities that were available to her at GTM.

Alkarmi decided to attend GTM because she knew she would be in the presence of like-minded travel advisers with sales of the highest caliber.

Donna Alkarmi "The year I applied, I was going into my 17th year in the travel industry," she said. "As an avid reader of Travel Weekly and TravelAge West, I had seen GTM advertised a few times and decided to research it further. At the time, it was me, myself and I, so I really had to pick and choose events, as I couldn't be out of my office for too long. "As I read about the criteria and the vetting the advisers must go through to attend, I knew in an instant this was the event for me," she continued. "My quickly growing business had a mind of its own, and I couldn't have been more excited to be in the presence of like-minded owners and agents. I knew I would be meeting the best suppliers, hoteliers and tourism boards from countries that I was already selling or wanted to get to know more about."Alkarmi was selected for GTM West in 2014 and attended in 2015 as a part of the Ambassador program, offered to only 20% of the previous year's attendees. In addition to participating in the event programming, Ambassadors help guide first-time attendees before and during GTM. The connections Alkarmi made at these events enabled her to boost her business exponentially. "Hitting my first million in sales that year was mind-blowing on its own," she recalled. "Once I attended the inaugural GTM West in Arizona, I knew I had no other option than to expand so I could start working with these incredible suppliers! Thanks to the extraordinary hoteliers and vendors I met, I both forged new relationships and was able to really get to know the regional directors of tour operators I was already selling. In return, my business developed greatly. The following year, I closed business at $1.5 million, and as of today, I am on target to reach $1.8 million in sales for 2017 if I continue on this path."In addition to increasing her sales, Alkarmi has added an administrative assistant and six talented independent contractors to her agency. She was also asked to speak to a group of travel advisers at Travel Weekly's CruiseWorld event about the way her business took off thanks to both her diligent work ethic and GTM.When asked why she would recommend GTM to fellow professional colleagues, Alkarmi said it was a no-brainer: "You have nothing to lose but a better understanding of unfamiliar suppliers and countries you weren't previously selling, which in turn will allow you to expand your repertoire quite easily."GTM and GTM West are appointment-only events that connect the most productive travel advisers in North America with global travel suppliers in powerhouse, one-on-one appointments and exclusive boardroom sessions. This boutique-style event supports the best sellers in the business, encouraging them to expand their supplier portfolio and grow their global book of business.GTM West will be held at the Westin Lake Las Vegas Resort and Spa in Henderson/Las Vegas May 18 to 20. Applications for GTM West close March 31. GTM takes place at the Diplomat Beach Resort in Hollywood/Fort Lauderdale, Fla., July 9 to 11. Travel advisers who are selected to attend are fully hosted, including airfare, hotel and all meals during the event. To submit your application to attend and to learn more, visit www.globaltravelmarketplace.com.

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