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A Virtually Awesome Show

June 30, 2020

Registration is open for vTREX, NTA’s Travel Exchange event that this year will be conducted entirely online. The virtual gathering—structured to provide vital business connections and essential education—will take place Nov. 17–19, with bonus days on both ends of the main event.

In designing an online event for its global membership, NTA strikes the right balance between real-time interaction with colleagues and the reality of a virtual format, says Dawn Pettus, CTP, vice president for events.

“During the three-day show, members can meet with each other in a condensed appointment schedule and in live seminars and roundtables,” Pettus said. “We’re mindful of not overtaxing members’ on-screen obligations, so all education sessions will be recorded for later viewing.”

DMO appointments with tour operators will be conducted in two sessions on Tuesday, and supplier appointments will be split over Wednesday and Thursday. Additional opportunities to discuss buyer-seller business can be found on the two bonus days. Monday will hold Best Pitch and Sales Mission presentations, and Friday is reserved for Super Appointments, which are longer buyer-requested meetings with sellers who they missed during regular appointments or found that they needed additional time to talk.

A previously announced alliance with the International Tour Management Institute Symposium adds even more depth to vTREX. Tour operators seeking to employ ITMI-certified tour directors or guides can interview job candidates in a special pre-vTREX session.

In another collaboration, NTA is working with the World Food Travel Association to connect WFTA’s FoodTreX (Food Travel Excellence Summit) with Travel Exchange. WFTA, an NTA Strategic Partner, is the world’s leading authority on food and beverage tourism.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, WFTA had planned to hold its first FoodTreX North America in conjunction with NTA’s TREX 2020 in Reno, Nevada. With both events moving to online platforms, FoodTreX North America is set for Nov. 12–13. Members of each association will receive a 20% discount to attend the other organization’s show.

Both collaborations add depth to NTA’s education lineup, which is extensive. vTREX offers 27 seminars over its three days, including some that are geared to ITMI graduates but can also be beneficial for NTA members. And NTA members who attend FoodTreX can attend seminars focused on trends in culinary tourism.

In addition to its education slate, vTREX offers three “Ask the Operator” sessions for three different audiences, along with an all-member Power Hour at the conclusion of the show. And midday sessions called Brunchers will give members time for structured networking. An overview of the schedule is here.

“We’ve built in a number of community-building events, too,” Pettus said. “Along with general sessions to start each day and happy hours to end them, we’ll have some fun with afternoon breaks and check-in moments from NTA leaders.”

Tour operators have several options for registering, each with specific opportunities. And while sellers have an extended early-bird registration period this year, it’s important to note that registration date is one of several factors considered when the computer generates appointments, so extra-early birds are better positioned to get better-matched appointments.

All members can attend in 2020 for significantly less money. In a year that has rattled the travel industry, NTA has more than halved the cost of attending its virtual Travel Exchange (and the bonus days). Lower registration fees, along with the absence of air and lodging expenses, make vTREX especially affordable. To see pricing for vTREX, follow this link.

“November will be a critical time for NTA members to get together and assess the travel terrain for 2021 and beyond,” Pettus said. “And while vTREX is a virtual show, when it comes to connecting with partners and colleagues, it’s absolutely the real thing.”

To get details on pricing and the schedule—and to register for vTREX and the ITMI Symposium—go to NTAtravelexchange.com.

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