National Tour Association eyes higher attendance, more appointment-takers for December convention
The National Tour Association is seeing significant growth in its tour operator base participating at Travel Exchange ’17 in San Antonio this December. Operator registration for the industry’s premier event that connects buyers and sellers of packaged travel from the United States, Canada and over 30 countries worldwide is tracking ahead of its first-quarter show in St. Louis.
“Travel Exchange is where tour operators meet face-to-face with our colleagues and create product,” said NTA chair Jay Smith, who is the owner of Sports Travel and Tours in Hatfield, Massachusetts. “I think sellers come to NTA because they know they’re dealing with the tour company’s decision-maker, like me.”
The number of registered tour operators who are taking a full book of appointments is up 25 percent from the Feb. 26–March 2 event. This allows for greater prescheduled appointment numbers and enhances the opportunity for tour suppliers and DMOs to add appointments on-site with NTA’s open-floor format.
“The business appointments at Travel Exchange are the foundation of our tour-planning process,” said Fraser Neave of Kamloops, British Columbia-based Wells Gray Tours, an NTA member since 1983. “The face-to-face connections that we make at NTA are a valuable part of our future working relationships.”
In the past three years, Travel Exchange attendees collectively have done $400,000,000 in booked and anticipated business, a number that resonates with sellers of travel product looking to grow their group and FIT business. Nita Neasbitt is a believer.
“Because of NTA, our occupancy went from 50 to 98 percent annually,” said Neasbitt, director of sales for Cliff Castle Casino in Camp Verde, Arizona, an NTA member since 2011. “Our net operating income was outstanding, all because of the many bus tours we signed from attending NTA every year.”
Travel Exchange makes its anticipated move from first- to fourth-quarter dates this year. In addition to the appointments, the Dec. 14–18 show in San Antonio offers an educational program with topics ranging from sales and marketing strategies to business and technology solutions. Throughout the week, attendees also will discover the host city’s top attractions and cultural offerings on sightseeing tours and at evening social events.
“Attendees can look forward to a vibrant, authentic destination, from our commitment to arts and culture to our growing culinary scene,” said Visit San Antonio Executive Director Casandra Matej. “Our city always has been a motorcoach group-friendly destination, and our commitment to hosting NTA for its spotlight meeting exemplifies that ongoing level of support.”
About NTA: Founded in 1951, the National Tour Association is the premier organization of packaged travel professionals who serve customers traveling to, from and within North America. For more information on NTA and Travel Exchange, visit NTAonline.com.
About Travel Exchange: Travel Exchange ’17 will be held in San Antonio, Texas, Dec. 14–18. Registration is open with early-bird discounts available until July 14. To learn more visit NTAonline.com/convention.
Cutline: Katie Campbell of the Staunton, Virginia, CVB engages a tour operator during a business appointment at NTA’s Travel Exchange in February in St. Louis. Changing to fourth-quarter conventions, NTA will hold a second 2017 event in San Antonio, starting Dec. 14.