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Travel Exchange Education

  • Education Track Descriptions

    ① Sales and Marketing
    Practical demos and how-to information for sales and marketing best practices
    ③ Market Research & Analysis
    Research and analysis on specialty/growth markets and trends
    .
    ② Business Solutions
    Technology, tools, and resources to improve your bottom line
    .
    ④ NTA Community
    Learning from your peers at perennial favorites, including the member discussion forums and Ask the Operator sessions

    A Spotlight Session is the only seminar scheduled during its block of time.

  • Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017

    ④ Tour Operator Power Hour
    2–3 p.m.
    Facilitators: Jay Smith, Sports Travel and Tours
    J. Chris Babb, The Group Tour Company

    NTA’s diverse group of tour operator members share many common challenges and opportunities. Join your tour operator colleagues for an interactive and dynamic discussion to gain insights, share concepts for collaboration and brainstorm ways to grow your business. This is your opportunity to talk business and get opinions and ideas from the best in the business, so come prepared to participate. Do you have a topic you want on the agenda?  Complete this simple form to submit your topic for discussion.


    Tour Supplier and DMO Power Hour
    2–3 p.m.
    Facilitators: Frances Manzitto, Visit Clarksville
    Jim Magrath, Delta Air Lines
    Jodi Danyluk, Norwegian Cruise Line
    Kelly Dean, Ottawa Tourism

    NTA’s members share many common challenges and opportunities. Join your DMO colleagues for an interactive and dynamic discussion to gain insights, share concepts for collaboration and brainstorm ways to draw visitors. This is your opportunity to talk business and get opinions and ideas from the best in the business, so come prepared to participate. Do you have a topic you want on the agenda?  Complete this simple form to submit your topic for discussion.


    Travel Exchange 101
    3:15–4:15 p.m.
    Speakers: Clayton Whitehead, CTP, Sports Leisure Vacations
    Frances Manzitto, Visit Clarksville

    This session, designed for both first-timers and veterans, will help you maximize your convention experience at every function: sales appointments, free time and social events. Learn the right questions to ask in appointments when time is short. Make new connections as you find out how, when and where to buy and sell.


    Tour Operator to Tour Operator
    3:15–4:15 p.m.
    Speakers: Kevin Murphy, CTP, Sports Leisure Vacations

    Partnering with fellow tour operators to package new tours can mean offering a more diverse tour product, lowering staff and operational costs, improving market reach and increasing sales. But there are obstacles to overcome in building and maintaining any successful relationship. In this session, Kevin will share the right questions to ask before entering into a new partnership, and they’ll explain how to cooperatively plan, manage, and price a new tour.


    ① How to Win with Video

    3:15–4:15 p.m.
    Speakers: Catherine Heeg, Customized Management Solutions

    Accelerate your engagement to create extraordinary visuals using the tools and techniques you’ll learn in this interactive session. We’ll explore visuals and video for an integrated marketing plan, and you’ll walk away with a collection of tips and knowledge of trends, which will optimize your own integrated marketing strategies across social platforms, e-blasts, blogs and e-newsletters.


    ④ Ask the Operator for DMOs
    4:30–5:30 p.m.
    Moderator: Greg Marshall, Visit Rochester
    Panelists: Scott Brodsky, Country Heritage Tours
    Richard Arnold, Atlantic Tours
    Peter Craddick, Globetrotters Travel & Tours

    This annual favorite has been moved ahead of destination appointments to allow DMO representatives an opportunity to get insight and feedback from a panel of tour operators before your appointments. Come prepared with questions that will help you develop a more effective relationship with tour operators and better serve their needs.


    Tour Operator Risk Management, Conducted by Aon
    4:30–5:30 p.m.
    Speakers:  Peter Maidhof, AON

    Join NTA corporate partner Aon to learn how to manage risk and develop a crisis management plan for your business. You’ll receive information on how to minimize liability claims with risk management techniques. For those Aon policyholders in attendance, premium credit up to 5 percent can be earned by attending this session on risk management. The credit will be applied each year for the next two annual policy renewals, and the availability of premium credit is subject to state insurance regulations. Attendance is mandatory to be eligible for a premium credit.


    ②④ Owners Network Senior-level Discussion
    4:30–5:30 p.m.
    Facilitator: Mark Hoffmann, CTP, Sports Leisure Vacations

    The members of NTA’s Owners Network call their group the association’s best-kept secret. Acting as business consultants for each other during two highly productive meetings per year, members solve problems in a collaborative setting. Join the in-depth, owner-insider conversation about top trends and issues impacting tour operations. You’ll also have an opportunity to get your topic on the table.

  • Friday, Dec. 15, 2017

    ② SPOTLIGHT SESSION: Lasting Travel Industry Relationships
    2–3 p.m.
    Speaker: Thom Singer, The Conference Catalyst

    In St. Louis you learned how to begin to build an enduring relationship with your potential clients and partners in the travel industry. And in July, Thom walked you through the steps of maintaining those new relationships between conventions and the next time you’d meet face-to-face. Join Thom in the last of his Travel Industry Relationships workshops to see how you can creating lasting connections that help grow your business and expand your circle.

    Don’t worry if you were not able to attend the other sessions; you can still gain insightful takeaways. It’s all about building lasting industry relationships and partners.


    ①② The ABCs of Sales: Sell More than Your Competition
    3:30–4:30 p.m.
    Speaker: Thom Singer, The Conference Catalyst

    Your competitor does not want your people to hear this message. In our social media-dependent society, too many sales professionals forgo personal contact for the ease and safety of email and online communication. Those who are winning more business are not hiding behind online “social selling.” Instead they are putting the “social” back in selling. All opportunities come from people, and getting face-to-face with clients, prospects and others makes a real difference.


    ③ Ask the Faith Leader
    Presented by Faith Travel Association
    3:30–4:30 p.m.
    Moderator: Rowena Drinkhouse, Reformation Tours

    In an interesting twist on our “Ask the Operator” sessions, FTA is welcoming local faith leaders to Travel Exchange to share their perspective on travel for their religious communities. This is your opportunity to learn more about what destinations and activities are on their radar, how best to communicate with and market to them, and how best to serve their needs.

  • Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017

    ③ Understanding the Differing Travel Habits and Preferences of Boomers, Generation X, Millennials and Z too!
    9–10 a.m.
    Speaker: Cathleen Johnson, Cathleen Johnson Tourism Consultants

    Cathleen will compare the travel desires and consumer behaviors of the Millennials, Gen Xers, Boomers, and the up-and-coming “Z” generation. You’ll explore the demographics and psychographics of these generations, similarities and differences of their attitudes toward travel, and how their history, education and work ethic influence their buying decisions.


    ② Hug Your Haters Deep Dive

    Brought to you by the U.S. Travel Experience Network
    9–10 a.m.
    Speaker: Jay Baer, Convince & Convert LLC

    Jay’s “Hug Your Haters Deep Dive” session will ask participants to role play common complaint scenarios and craft strong response language based on Jay’s “Hug Your Haters” protocol and the “13 Words You Should Never Say to a Customer” system.


    ④ From the Horse’s Mouth—a Cross-generational Panel Discussion

    10:30–11:30 a.m.
    Moderator: Cathleen Johnson, Cathleen Johnson Tourism Consultants
    Panelists: John McGlade, Euro River Cruises
    Tom White, U.S. Space and Rocket Center
    Ranae Scott, Old Savannah Tours
    Carly McCloskey, Museum of Modern Art

    Following on the morning session about generational differences in travel preferences, she will moderate a discussion with panelists who represent those generations. You’ll hear their opinions on which findings ring true. Then the panel will discuss what motivates their peers to travel, if “experiential travel” is still the most desirable, how their generation searches for and books travel, what travel promotions don’t resonate for their peers, and how each generation feels about potential crisis situations while traveling.

    The discussion should help you understand if your marketing matches your audience and whether your product offering needs to change in order to attract and keep the Millennial and Gen X audience and buyer as well as the Boomers.


    ② NTA Supplier Network

    10:30–noon
    All suppliers welcome

    Join us for a conversation with NTA’s new Supplier Network. Your goal is to have the largest amount of visitors to your place of business and provide them with quality service during their visit. While you might be competing with other attractions, restaurants and hotels for customers or a spot in an itinerary, you are all looking to increase visitation and spending, so there are synergies to discuss. It’s time to share ideas and best practices with your industry colleagues.


    ② Time Management – Harnessing Your Power at Hand

    2–3 p.m.
    Speaker: Paul Vitale, Vital Communications

    Poor time management has the potential of being one of the largest productivity deterrents in the workplace. Developing effective time management skills increases efficiency, lessens stress and improves overall quality of life—both personally and professionally. Effective time management combines recognizing and managing distractions, making continual adjustments and disciplining oneself to remain committed to proven habits.


    ②③ Indian Country Tourism and Cultural Immersion
    Sponsored by Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort
    2–3 p.m.
    Speaker: Travis Owens, American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association

    Travelers are demanding authentic experiences. They want to learn actively about the people and places they visit and get immersed in the culture. Indian Country in the U.S., which covers more than 56 million acres and is spread across 326 Indian lands, including reservations, rancherias, pueblos and villages, offers amazing experiences and the opportunity for life-changing connections with Native Americans. The American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association, an NTA strategic partner, will share examples of this diverse cultural product.


    ② Resolving Team Conflict Effectively

    3:30-4:30 p.m.
    Speaker: Paul Vitale, Vital Communications

    Resolving conflict within a team is crucial for optimal productivity, growth and morale. When continued struggles, animosity or disagreements become the focal point of various individuals’ attention, the entire organization is affected. During this session ideas will be introduced on how to isolate and effectively resolve conflict. Properly executed conflict resolution causes people to listen to and consider different perspectives, contributing to a positive culture rather than a hostile environment.


    ④ Ask the Operator for Suppliers

    3:30-4:30 p.m.
    Moderator: Leslie Brewer, Biltmore Estates
    Panelists: Roland Neave, Wells Gray Tours
    Suzanne Slavitter, Sports Empire
    Edmund Yost, Friendly Excursions

    It wouldn’t be an NTA event without our Ask the Operator sessions! This is a great opportunity for tour suppliers to get answers from a diverse panel of tour operator members with years of experience in the industry. They are ready to share their ideas, expertise and opinions.

  • Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017

    ② SPOTLIGHT SESSION: Technology in Travel … Today and Tomorrow
    9:30–10:30 a.m.
    Moderator: Bob Rouse, Courier
    Panelists: Jeff Fish, The Momentum Group
    Bob Gilbert, Rezdy
    Michael Herrmann, TourConnect
    Stephen Joyce, Rezgo

    Although many factors have influenced the ever-changing travel industry, technology is at the top of that list. From swaying generational preferences and creating an instant-gratification society to disrupting the status quo of nearly every segment of the industry, technology continues to create waves. Join a panel of NTA’s tech-focused associate members for their perspective on how technology has changed travel, how professionals are using tech tools and what they’re missing, as well as what’s on the horizon for technology and integration in the travel experience.


    ② NTA DMO Network
    10:30–11:30 a.m.
    NTA DMO Network Chair: Lisa Itel, Travel Oregon

    Come learn about NTA’s DMO Network (it’s NEW!) and join the conversation. After the 4-1-1, attendees will breakout into roundtable discussions on topics relevant to DMOs of all sizes, geography and composition. While you may be competing for the same customers or spot in an itinerary, you are all looking to increase visitation, and there are synergies to discuss. It’s time to share ideas and best practices with your industry colleagues.

    Killer Apps for Professionals
    10:45–11:45 a.m.
    Speaker:  Beth Ziesenis, Your Nerdy Best Friend

    Take a deep dive into the free and bargain apps that will help you move up the ladder. Learn the tools you need for personal organization as well as game-changing tech tools to help your organization function more efficiently and support team collaboration. Showcase your leadership ability by capitalizing on the technology tools that will keep you organized, productive, informed, innovative, and ahead of the crowd.


    ③ Chinese OTAs and Tourists’ Behavior
    Sponsored by Delta Air Lines, Inc.
    10:45–11:45 a.m.
    Speaker: Alfred Chang, Ctrip

    You may know how to work with major online travel agents (OTAs), such as Expedia, in the United States, but that doesn’t mean you’re ready to maneuver the Chinese OTA market. Like Ctrip, which is the largest OTA in China, they require specialized knowledge and experience in order to distribute your product online in China. Join Alfred to better understand Chinese travelers’ online shopping behaviors especially FITs, and the most current Chinese OTA trends.


    ② Your Virtual Staff: Building a Team with AI Technology

    2–3 p.m.
    Speakers: Beth Ziesenis, Your Nerdy Best Friend

    Sometimes we feel like we need a clone to help us carry out everything we have to do for our companies and organizations. Artificial Intelligence technology can act as your virtual staff, handling tasks and challenges that overwhelm your to-do lists. This session introduces you to AI tools that organize your tasks, set your appointments, make your travel plans, find time for your workouts, manage your personal budget and much, much more.


    ③ Blogging and Boosting your Brand
    Presented by Faith Travel Association
    2–3 p.m.
    Speakers: Howard Kramer, The Complete Pilgrim

    Join Howard Kramer of The Complete Pilgrim as he offers a window into travel blogging. Howard will cover both travel writing of general interest as well as faith-related travel, a significant and large segment of the travel industry. Learn what inspires thousands of independent travel bloggers to create unique and insightful content, how to find them, and how to work with them to boost your brand.


    ④ Women in Travel: Entrepreneurial Spirit

    3:30–4:30 p.m.
    Moderator: Catherine Prather
    Panelists: Julie Kozikowski, CTP, Destinations Unlimited
    Sally Berry, CTP, Corning Museum of Glass
    Palmyre Gilles, Quebec Copper Art Studio & Museum
    Cathy Greteman, CTP, Star Destinations

    An entrepreneur embodies passion, creativity and optimism with an attitude of “Let’s make this better,” and, “This is how we do it.” For women in travel, this spirit is strong and vibrant. Whether sharing these entrepreneurial skills with the companies they joined or running their own businesses, our panelists have important stories to tell. Join us and hear why they did it, how they did it and what they learned. All are welcome.


    ②③ Benefits of Getting FIT
    3:30–4:30 p.m.
    Speakers: Julie Payne, Hershey’s Chocolate World
    Lynn Burkholder, RLB Marketing

    The travel industry is experiencing a resurgence of the “free, independent traveler.” Eased restrictions for short-term visas, increased wealth and favorable exchange rates mean that people from countries such as Brazil, India and China are traveling more than ever. FIT has become an emerging market that provides destinations and suppliers with potential for volume visitation in small groups.

    RLB Marketing will present an interactive sequel to their FIT 101 session from Travel Exchange in St. Louis.The focus will be on education of FIT, international customer travel patterns and expectations as well as how to capture this viable market segment and the benefits.

  • Monday, Dec. 18, 2017

    ①② Positively Magical Selling
    9–10 a.m.
    Speaker: Billy Riggs, Billy Riggs Enterprises

    Effective selling is the result of accurate beliefs about the marketplace, the client and yourself. Your greatest obstacles to stratospheric sales success are your illusions, faulty beliefs that lurk in the subconscious and lower self-confidence, undermine motivation and reduce closing ratios. In this fascinating combination of classic magic, humor and education, Billy, a world-class illusionist, helps eliminate these psychological glass ceilings, propelling your sales force to higher sales and greater satisfaction.
    ② Navigating ADA Compliance: How to Understand the Laws, Comply and Encourage Travel
    9–10 a.m.
    Speaker: Jeff Ment, Silver Golub & Teitell, LLP

    Enacted in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act was created for the purpose of limiting discriminatory practices toward individuals with disabilities. This act and its amendments guarantee equal opportunity for people with disabilities in public accommodations, commercial facilities and transportation. Both public and private entities are affected by the ADA. Join attorney Jeff Ment for an update on the current state of the law, how compliance is determined, dealing with difficult planning issues, and adverse consequences for failing to comply.


    ② How to Become a Born Leader
    10:30–11:30 a.m.
    Speaker: Billy Riggs, Billy Riggs Enterprises

    Bosses are a dime a dozen; leaders are priceless. Employees obey bosses only because they fear consequences. Morale suffers, key people depart and productivity sags. But a genuine leader inspires team members. Employees follow true leaders out of respect and admiration. They work out of a sense of shared ownership of goals and passion for the fulfillment of a noble mission. Learn the keys to climbing the “leadership pyramid” through six stages—from a man who’s been to the top of the pyramid—and begin the rewarding journey from mere boss to leader.


    ③ Decoding China-U.S. Cultural Relations
    Sponsored by Delta Air Lines, Inc.
    10:30–11:30 a.m.
    Speakers: Alfred Chang, Ctrip
    J. Chris Babb, The Group Tour Company

    Understanding the cultural differences and business practices of your colleagues from other countries is one of the most important aspects of creating an effective relationship. It can be daunting, but if you take the steps to learn the nuances, it can make a big difference in showing you care and want to be a good partner. Join Alfred and Chris for this very helpful session.


    ④ SPOTLIGHT SESSION: All-member Power Hour

    2-3:15 p.m.
    Facilitators: Michael Weinberg, Hiltons of Chicago
    Stephanie Dilling, Wells Gray Tours
    Ryan Elliott, Banff Lake Louise Tourism

    After a full week of networking, education and entertainment, what can you take away from Travel Exchange that will help you overcome the obstacles and capitalize on the opportunities facing the industry? Join this session to compare notes, discuss ideas and share key insights from your experience in San Antonio.

  • NTA has provided us the research and atmosphere to brainstorm new ways of doing things and fresh additions to trips, which has led to successful business development. Rachel Ranck, WorldStrides, NTA member since 1985
  • What NTA does is provide the right buyers. They provide the right people who make decisions. This is what makes this organization one I can’t afford to take off my list. John Stachnik CTP, Mayflower Tours, NTA member since 1979
  • I came to NTA to build a business, and that’s exactly what it did for us, as sales came in. For me, it’s the only outlet for new ideas. Matthew Squire, Select Travel Service (UK), NTA member since 2002
  • NTA membership and our attendance at the convention have provided us with more clients, more business relationships and more ideas. We are proud to belong to NTA. Daniele Panzarin, Target Travel (Italy), NTA member since 2007
  • The No. 1 member benefit of NTA has to be all the great professional and personal connections we’ve made over the past decade. Taunya Wolfe Finn, CTP, Wolfe Adventures & Tours, NTA member since 2005
  • We have not found a more reliable, more profitable or more consistent tourism venue in which to acquire new business than NTA. Diane Hohnstein, Hospitality Management Services, NTA member since 1999
  • I believe attending the NTA conferences allow me to create valuable relationships and work together with U.S. operators in creating great Scotland product. Maggie Anderson, VisitScotland, NTA member since 2003
  • NTA events provide us with beneficial networking with many top tour operators. It’s national and international in scope providing a global perspective. Tim and Elaine Moulder, Brilliant Edventures, NTA member since 2015