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April 2012 NTA News

NTA News is a compilation of stories from Tuesday newsletter, which NTA members receive each week.

Questions about NTA? Contact us today. We'd love to have you join us.

April 2012 Top Stories

Industry & Association News 
Travel Exchange Registration Is now Open! 
How to Stay in the Know 
Tour Operators Can Choose from Three Tracks of Education at Contact 
Blastoff! New Sponsor to Host Icebreaker at Travel Exchange 
Members on Markets: Sports Travel  
The Lubrication Specialist [VIDEO] 
Begich, Bonner and Farr to Address NTA Summit Luncheon
Two Thumbs Up for NTA's Work in China 
Pinterest Drawing Interest to Member DMO 
2 Basic Business Tools You Ought to Update 


Travel Exchange Registration Is now Open!  

Registration for NTA's annual convention, Travel Exchange, is open! 

Each year, NTA's show brings together the most diverse group of buyers and sellers in any travel industry show-including 100 buyers who tell us they only go to NTA. Now, by joining the NTA convention with UMA's Motorcoach EXPO, we're doubling the size of the show and your opportunities to meet and partner with industry colleagues!

Travel Exchange launches in Orlando, Florida, January 20-24, 2103.

Registration rates are below: 

Buyers
Early Bird rate (until Aug. 24): $220
Regular registration rate (after Aug. 24): $330
(Buyers are eligible for a $650 rebate, and a special BOGO offer!) 

Sellers
Tour Suppliers/DMOs
Early Bird rate (until Aug. 24): $1,200
Regular registration rate (after Aug. 24): $1,400

Associates: $2,500 (includes a booth)

Educators: $220

But, you have to be an NTA member to register! To join NTA, call +1.859.264.6540 or 800.692.8886, e-mail us, or visit NTAonline.com. 

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How to Stay in the Know  

Do you know what your industry colleagues are doing or how they're handling challenges? Here's how NTA members keep up with everyone:

Have you seen the photos from NTA's reception and booth at Pow Wow? There's sure to be faces you know on NTA's Facebook page.

Are you having trouble meeting group minimums? Join the discussions in NTA's Linkedin group.

Want to hear how Paul Nakamoto, Mark Hoffmann or Harris Rosen have used their NTA memberships? Flip to the NTA YouTube channel.

What are you loving this month? Share it with us on the Do Big Things blog.

Do you prefer your news in 140 characters or less? Follow @NTAnews on Twitter.

Stay connected to your industry peers by engaging with them through NTA's social media outlets. Better yet, join the association and keep the conversations going all year. 

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Tour Operators Can Choose from Three Tracks of Education at Contact

How does your tour company compare to the benchmarks of other companies? Where can you find markets to grow your customer base? What are your peers doing successfully that you could be doing? These are just some of the questions you'll find answers to by attending the educational sessions at Contact, Aug. 16-18, in San Diego, California.

The full slate of Contact education runs along three tracks: 1) CEO/owners, 2) sales/marketing and 3) operations/product development-each designed to deliver specific, actionable takeaways. That kind of information-not to mention the rare treat of relaxing with your industry peers-makes Contact the must-do tour operator event of the year! Plus, it's in beautiful San Diego!

Contact is a tour operator-exclusive show* and registration is open now. Don't miss the tour company-specific programming and time with your colleagues! To make Contact even more effective for your company, consider bringing folks for each of the tracks.

Interested in coming to Contact? Let us know via e-mail or by calling 859.264.6540.

*NTA suppliers and destinations can attend this operator-exclusive event by sponsoring. For more information e-mail Karla DiNardo or call +1.859.264.6556.  

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Blastoff! New Sponsor to Host Icebreaker at Travel Exchange  

The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex has just become NTA's newest sponsor, hosting the Icebreaker at Travel Exchange! On Sunday evening during Travel Exchange (Jan. 20-24), you'll be treated to an insider's visit to the KSCVC. And while you're exploring, you just might meet an astronaut! Here's what else you can look forward to:

Sneak peek at Space Shuttle Atlantis Exhibit: Set to open in summer 2013, this $100 million exhibit is the marquee element of the KSCVC master plan. You'll get a preview of the home for the space shuttle (all 65,000 square feet of it!), where guests will see how the spacecraft worked in flight and get a unique, up-close look at the complex vehicle.

Shuttle Launch Experience:  As a guest "crew member," you'll strap in for a launch replication that immerses you in the sights, sounds and feelings of a space shuttle launch.

IMAX® Theaters: KSCVC is home to the only back-to-back 3D IMAX theaters in the world. One five-and-a-half-story-tall IMAX screen features Space Station 3D, filmed by 25 astronauts and cosmonauts and narrated by Tom Cruise; the other features Hubble 3D,  an inspiring and unique look into the Hubble Space Telescope's legacy, narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio.

Rocket Garden: As you marvel at eight vintage rockets from the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space programs, you'll see firsthand just how small early spacecraft were.

Exploration Space: Explorers Wanted: Live theater, interactive experiences and large-scale multimedia presentations display exciting possibilities of travel beyond our home planet.

The evening at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex also includes great food and socializing, of course. You'll hear more about this unique event at Travel Exchange as we get closer to liftoff.

Don't miss this event! Join NTA so you can attend Travel Exchange. Call +1.859.264.6540 or 800.692.8886, e-mail us, or visit NTAonline.com. 

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Members on Markets: Sports Travel 

Nearly one-third (31 percent) of NTA tour operators report packaging sports travel for spectators (think Super Bowl, World Cup soccer, etc.). A smaller number (16 percent) say they package travel for sports participants (youth teams and marathon runners, for example.) That number would grow if you added certain adventure activities, such as skiing.

Read on to get advice about entering the sports travel market as a tour operator.

Jay Smith, owner of Sports Travel and Tours in Hatfield, Massachusetts, has been in the travel business since 1974 and in sports travel since 1990. Smith has been a sports fan all his life, and now he's helping other fans fuel their passion.

Suzanne Slavitter, CTP, who, with her husband, Daniel Chavez, owns Sports Empire, which she joined 22 years ago. "We both love football and baseball and enjoy going to sporting events," she said.

John Martin, founder and CEO of Great Atlantic Travel and Tour in Virginia Beach, Virginia, began operating sports travel in 1981. "I started as a fan," he said." Now, I am out of the country at least a 100 days a year working on international events."

Q: What type of sports travel packages do you offer-and who's buying?
Jay Smith: Our programs are split between pre-packaged tours and FIT for individuals and customized programs for groups. Our travelers are aged 8 to 80, families, couples, singles, young and old. We offer all the major classic events like the Final Four, Super Bowl, Kentucky Derby, World Series and all-star games, as well as football weekends, spring training and baseball road trips. 

John Martin: We provide worldwide sports travel to all major international and U.S. sporting events. Our fan base is worldwide, and many programs are customized to the clients' preferences. We provide sports services to FIT, groups and corporate travelers. Ours is the only company in North America that has operated as the official travel agency for rugby, FIFA and cricket World Cups since 1994.

Suzanne Slavitter: We offer packages to the major North American sports and special events. Most of our business is individual bookings, and our tour length is typically a weekend. Our clients are typically yuppies and boomers and it's their dream trip to go to the Super Bowl or the Kentucky Derby.  

Q: What trends for this market do you see down the road?
Suzanne Slavitter: As travelers continue to get more sophisticated and smarter in their planning through the Internet, flexibility in packaging will be important to meet each individual client need. We also offer special event packages to the Rose Parade, Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta and Mardi Gras; this is an area where we are adding more product as we move forward.

Jay Smith: Groups are not filling up, and that has been going on for years across our industry. Our longer, more expensive programs still sell, as the people who had disposable income still have it. You would think that the shorter, less-costly, lower-margin programs would sell better, but it's this market that has been hit the hardest economically. 

John Martin: As a result of the recession, corporate and individuals are all pulling back and spending less for leisure activities. And event tickets, airfares, hotels and transportation are priced at an all-time high. I believe it will take another two years for the unemployment to come down to a level where individuals and corporations will feel comfortable with increasing their sports travel.

Q: What would you say to the tour operator who's considering jumping into the market?
John Martin: For someone to get into the sports travel business, they would need to bring investors. Sports travel is a very high-risk business. Domestic event tickets are expensive and need to be paid for as much as eight to 10 months ahead. International sports programs require major deposits years in advance. Event tickets, hotels and airfare are all at a premium cost. If you buy in the wrong product, you are left with major losses and looking for more investors.  

Suzanne Slavitter: Jump lightly! Why recreate the wheel when there are good NTA members who can help with the operations, leaving you time to concentrate on the marketing. That's a better way to get started, so you don't have any minimum or maximum numbers to meet. This niche is on the higher side for price and activity level, and it's typically not for a senior traveler. So if that's your client base you'd need to be able to reach out to a younger demographic.

Jay Smith: There are not many people I would advise to jump into the sports travel market at this time. If you do jump in you'd better have a specialty niche, a following of clientele and a database. We are working harder for less to maximize profits, as the world is a bit edgy to get back in and spend. However, as I say all the time: We create fun-for others. What a great way to earn a living.

Want more "Members on Markets?" Join NTA now and we'll deliver it to your mailbox each month!  

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The Lubrication Specialist [VIDEO]

During the recent Travel Exchange Task Force breakfast in Orlando, Paul Nakamoto shared with attendees what he discovered while walking the UMA Motorcoach EXPO floor in February. Among other things, he met a "lubrication specialist" and ended up doing business with him. Just watch: 

This is a perfect example of what Travel Exchange holds in store ... you might find your next business partner, your next supplier or your next money-saving opportunity for your company, but you won't know unless you attend!

As Paul says in the video, "You just never know what you're going to find."

To join NTA, call +1.859.264.6540 or 800.692.8886, e-mail us, or visit NTAonline.com.  

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Begich, Bonner and Farr to Address NTA Summit Luncheon

Three co-chairs of the U.S. Senate and Congressional Tourism Caucuses will be featured speakers at the Congressional Tourism Leaders Luncheon at the Grassroots Congressional Travel Summit (May 8-10).

Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Rep. Jo Bonner (R-Ala.) and Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.) will share their analyses of current tourism issues at the luncheon, scheduled for Tuesday, May 8, in the Hart Senate Office Building. The congressmen will cover pressing issues such as visa legislation, transportation appropriations, public lands policy and both domestic and international marketing of the United States as a destination.

The event, set during National Tourism Week, is jointly sponsored by NTA, Destination Marketing Association International, and the Southeast Tourism Society. Co-sponsors are the American Bus Association, American Indian Alaska Native Travel Association, American Society of Travel Agents, Interactive Travel Services Association, National Parks Hospitality Association, NYC & Company, Student & Youth Travel Association, United Motorcoach Association, U.S. Travel Association and the Western States Tourism Policy Council.

The morning session on May 8 will be highlighted by special presentations by Joel Secundy, vice president of strategic outreach for Brand USA, and Todd Davidson, CEO of the Oregon Tourism Commission and chairman of the United States Travel and Tourism Advisory Council. Secundy and Davidson will present plans, goals and strategies for increasing inbound and domestic tourism to boost the national economy and create more jobs.

Afternoon discussions will focus on visa issues, surface transportation, national parks and marketing. Attendees at the Summit can use the information provided on May 8 during visits to members of Congress and their staffs on May 9 and 10.

For more information about the Summit-and to register, follow this link

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Two Thumbs Up for NTA's Work in China 

At International Pow Wow in Los Angeles, NTA shared a double dose of good news in regard to China:

Brand USA will partner with NTA to present the Discover America Pavilion at the China International Travel Mart, November 15-19 in Shanghai. CITM, produced by the China National Tourism Administration, is the largest professional travel expo in Asia, with last year's fair attracting more than 100,000 visitors and 2,200 exhibitors. At the Discover America Pavilion, Brand USA and NTA will host U.S. companies and destinations seeking to enter or expand their presence among Chinese outbound travelers, a rapidly growing market.

Also last week, we learned that NTA took the top prize for the 2012 Chinese Tourists Welcoming Award, winning the Overall Performance category. The CTW Award, organized by the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute, was presented in Beijing during the China Outbound Travel & Tourism Market.

While the U.S. Office of Travel and Tourism Industries placed China at No. 9 among inbound markets last year, China ranked as the second-leading source of visitors handled by NTA tour operators. Overall, the number of visitors to the United States from China increased from 157,000 in 2003 to 1,089,000 in 2011. Projected visitation for 2014 is more than 2 million, with nearly 3 million visitors forecasted for 2016.   

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Pinterest Drawing Interest to Member DMO

VisitSavannah is one of the most-followed travel brands on Pinterest, according to an article on travelllll.com. The story details the DMO's success on the online bulletin board, where more than 12,000 people are now following the Georgia city's Pinterest page, which includes boards on Savannah hotels, restaurants, shops, events, attractions, mansions and more.

In the April 2012 Courier, social media expert Catheirne Heeg outlines 14 ways that NTA members - suppliers and operators - can boost interest in their business or destination among the 4 million-plus Pinterest users, including tips, best practices and links to other DMOs getting good mileage from the Pinterest page.

Finally, Renee Warren, in an article on Ragan.com, details how Pinterest can boost the bottom line for a small business. Her reasons for being active on the site include discovering what your customers want, monitoring what your competitors are doing, and increasing sales and brand awareness. Click here for the article.

Want access to Courier? Join NTA. Call +1.859.264.6540 or 800.692.8886, e-mail us, or visit NTAonline.com.

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2 Basic Business Tools You Ought to Update

Staying on top of new technology and ever-shifting economic conditions requires your constant attention. But as you adjust to the new, don't relax your grip on the old. Two recent business articles put a current touch on well-established tools: business cards and e-mail marketing.

Even in these digital-dominant days, your business card can convey key information and project an image of professionalism and credibility. On NetworkSolutions.com, Thomas Ford offers 10 tips for getting the most out of your business cards, including:

E-mail marketing has been a business staple since 1999, evolving through changes in technology, strategies and legal restrictions. Karen Talavera, on MarketingProfs.com, warns that best practices are not set in stone and should be routinely re-evaluated. Here are three facets of e-mail marketing you should consider (site requires free registration):

Whether it's business cards or e-mail practices, experts advise that you regularly assess your business basics and remain open to change and innovation.  

Join NTA today! To join, call +1.859.264.6540 or 800.692.8886, e-mail us, or visit NTAonline.com.  

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