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Tuesday Newsletter

November 15, 2005

Tuesday Newsletter November 15, 2005
November 15, 2005: Volume 25; Issue 38

Today’s Headlines
  • Convention Buzz
  • Tour & Travel Exchange Again a Hit
  • Speed Dating Provides Additional Partnering
  • Staples Corporate Partnership Offers Big Savings
  • NTA Family Rallies to Help Gulf Coast Members
  • Jim Santini Wins 2005 Bob Everidge Award
  • 2006 Board Member List Finalized
  • Tourism Cares Auctions a Success
  • Painting a Realistic Picture of the Avian Flu is Vital
  • NTA Job Center

    Convention Buzz

    If you weren’t there … you missed it.

    The positive energy and upbeat buzz created by delegates attending the 2005 NTA Annual Convention tells the story of its success. From the Tour & Travel Exchange, to the luncheons featuring members from the hurricane-affected areas on Saturday and Mitch Albom on Tuesday, to the evening events, Detroit was the place to be.

    This issue contains stories highlighting many different angles of the 2005 Convention. You’ll read about productive appointments during the Tour & Travel Exchange and at the Tour Operator Partnering Session; hear the response of new Corporate Partner and first-time Convention attendee, Staples; find out who won the elections and learn who received the association’s 2005 Bob Everidge Award. Plus, you’ll get an update on the role Tourism Cares for Tomorrow played in making it a great Convention with its Gulf Coast Restoration Fund and Silent and Live Auctions.

    Upcoming issues of Tuesday will contain similar articles under the heading "Convention Buzz," with members telling the story of what made the 2005 Convention so memorable.

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    Tour & Travel Exchange Again a Hit

    The slogan for the 2005 NTA Annual Convention was Better Business … Better Be There. At the center of "better business" is the Tour & Travel Exchange – the place where business cards are swapped, packages are pitched, partnerships are formed and deals are finalized.

    Even though the Tour & Travel Exchange has undergone a major facelift since the open-floor format was introduced in 2003, it remains the heartbeat of Convention. And the heart was beating loudly in Detroit, based on the responses from your fellow members:

  • "I think the open-floor format is the greatest thing NTA has ever done since I’ve been around. I love the whole idea that a DMO can come back on Monday or Tuesday and see an operator again if they have an opening." – Dodie Litowitz, representing Tourism Saskatchewan


  • "I love the open-floor format for the Tour & Travel Exchange. While I had fewer pre-scheduled appointments this year, I came out of the Exchange with more than double the amount of appointments I went in with; I just had to work a little harder to do it!" – Mikie Wall, CTP, North Carolina Division of Tourism Film and Sports Development


  • "I am amazed at the number of good contacts that I made during the week. I especially like the open-floor format, which allowed me to meet with so many operators." – Diane Shoemaker, Fountainhead Hotels


  • "The quality of operators that attended this year’s Convention was impressive and everyone came ready to do business." – Ruth Mensch of Marriott International


  • "A lot of DMOs I talked to were apprehensive going into NTA because we’d heard there might not be as many tour operators attending. I think what resulted was better quality – over quantity – of appointments." – Sue Hegarty, Eagan (Minn.) CVB


  • "The open-floor format for the Tour & Travel Exchange is a major step ahead. On several occasions, I met with an operator one day, and then was able to follow up with more information the next day." – David Kaufman, CTP, Vermont Tourism Network top of page

    Speed Dating Provides Additional Partnering

    A major modification at this year’s Convention was changing the focus of the Tour Operator Partnering Session to a speed-dating format. Speed dating was introduced at the 2005 Tour Operator Spring Meet and, after it received rave reviews, changes were made to add it to the Annual Convention schedule.

    One of the main benefits of the three-minute speed date mini-appointments is the increased number of contacts tour operators are able to make. Over the course of the hour and a half session, each participant met with more than 25 different operators to talk shop. Despite the condensed timeframe, delegates made the most of the session.

    "I always thought seven-minute appointments were exciting, but I couldn’t believe how much business you can actually accomplish in three minutes," Sharon Gaiptman, director of marketing/trade and international sales for Alaska Discovery said. "It was amazing. You could sit down and quickly find out if there was a possible connection and get right down to business. I definitely was able to find several operators to partner with."

    Based on the success of the speed-dating format, you can look forward to hearing more about it at 2006 NTA events.

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    Staples Corporate Partnership Offers Big Savings

    It didn’t take long for NTA members to start reaping the benefits of having Staples as a corporate partner. Since Staples came on board last month, many members have taken advantage of the discounts available through the Staples Business Advantage program.

    "I went on line and found the ordering process very easy to use," Betty Routhier of the Greater Merrimack Valley CVB said. "I compared prices and found that a toner cartridge I use on a regular basis was $9 less through the program. Plus, the order was delivered to our office next day. I will continue to comparison shop, but overall I expect to order nearly all of our office supplies through this program."

    Staples representatives attended the final two days of Convention, and they signed up nearly 150 members for the program.

    For more information on the program, or to learn more about NTA’s full complement of corporate partners, click here. Also, stay tuned to Tuesday for a forthcoming announcement on the Staples partnership with NTA’s Canadian members.

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    NTA Family Rallies to Help Gulf Coast Members

    The NTA family has come together in a big way to support its colleagues in the U.S. Gulf Coast area in the aftermath of recent hurricanes. Association members, through their contributions to Tourism Cares for Tomorrow’s Gulf Coast Restoration Fund, have helped donations reach $22,325.

    "Tourism is vital to the economy of the Gulf Coast region," Tourism Cares Executive Director Bruce Beckham, CTP, said. "We want to do everything we can to help bring it back by rebuilding and restoring the cultural and historic treasures that are so important to the tourism industry."

    The project was highlighted during two luncheons at Annual Convention. On Saturday, delegates got to hear personal stories from Ron McConnell (Mobile Bay Area CVB), Lisa Holland (New Orleans Metropolitan CVB) and Steve Richer (Mississippi Gulf Coast CVB) about the impact of the hurricanes. The Monday Luncheon featured a check presentation for $22,325, representing the total amount raised to date for the Tourism Cares fund, which will be used for an NTA-specified restoration project.

    "Out of all the NTA Conventions that I have attended over the years, I must say this one had a very special place in my heart," Holland said. "The emotional support I received from my friends and colleagues was overwhelming. Not only were they concerned for our wonderful city, but they were truly concerned about my personal well being. It’s comforting to know that our NTA family is there when you need it."

    Additional information on making a donation to the fund is available at

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    Jim Santini Wins 2005 Bob Everidge Award

    On the final night of its Annual Convention, NTA presented Jim Santini with the 2005 Bob Everidge Lifetime Achievement Award. This award recognizes individuals who have made outstanding, ongoing contributions to the association, its members and the travel industry.

    Santini, a former congressman from Nevada, has served as NTA’s legislative counsel in Washington, D.C., the past 22 years. He is the third person to receive this honor, which is named after the late Bob Everidge, an NTA and industry pioneer who passed away in 2001. The inaugural award was given at the 2003 Convention to Lois Anderson, originator and president of Gadabout Tours in Palm Springs, Calif., while last year’s recipient was Bill Shepler of Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry Service and Mackinaw Crossings.

    "This recognition is the highlight of my professional life since I left Congress," Santini said.

    "Jim Santini has acted in the best interest of NTA and its members for more than 20 years," Immediate Past Chairman and CEO Ann Thomas, CTP, said. "His hard work, lobbying expertise and true professionalism on Capitol Hill have positively affected the way every one of us does business."

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    2006 Board Member List Finalized

    The members of the 2006 NTA Board of Directors have been announced, following the conclusion of the elections at Annual Convention last week. Judith Thomas, CTP, (Unlimited Tours & Travel Inc.) will serve as the 2006 chairman and CEO.

    Additional members of the Executive Committee include Vice Chairman Randy Julian (Julian Tours); Treasurer Bob Hoelscher, CTP (Flemming Tours); Secretary Martin Elson (Biss Tours/Parker Tours); Immediate Past Chairman and CEO Ann Thomas, CTP (Western Discovery LLC); DMO Director Becky Gruening (Des Moines CVB); and Tour Supplier Director Scott Hartcorn (Shilo Inn Suites Hotels).

    The other tour operator directors serving on the board are Peter Grunwaldt (Premier Alaska Tours), Marian DiPietro (Tourco), Catherine Greteman (Star Destinations), Carol Jordan (Territorial Tours), Michele Michalewicz, CTP (Western Leisure) and Michael Neustadt (Coach Tours). Representing the tour supplier members on the board is J.P. Dansereau (Mohegan Sun), and Joan Niemeier, CTP (Tourism Kelowna) represents the DMO members.

    Ed Dresel (Destinations Unlimited Inc.) continues to serve as director-at-large along with Paul Nakamoto (Roaring Camps Railroad) and Sandra Rice (Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership).

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    Tourism Cares Auctions a Success

    With computer keyboards clicking and live auctioneer Shane Ratliff on the stage, Tourism Cares for Tomorrow raised in excess of $70,000 through its Live and Silent Auctions, sponsored by Celebrate Virginia, at the 2005 NTA Convention in Detroit.

    "The auctions were a major success," Bruce Beckham, CTP, executive director of Tourism Cares said. "The participation and support of those who provided auction items is greatly appreciated. Bidders were thrilled with their purchases, and those who donated received invaluable exposure while also assisting a most worthy cause."

    The Silent Auction used computer bidding, a la EBay, for the first time. Images of the items were displayed online and in the Silent Auction area in the Convention Mall, in addition to being shown continuously on monitors throughout the Mall. Bidders could find detailed descriptions of all items in the auction catalog, sponsored by The Group Travel Leader.

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    Painting a Realistic Picture of the Avian Flu is Vital

    One of the hottest topics to grab the headlines in recent weeks is the avian flu. As the subject continues to generate a lot of publicity, travel professionals have raised concerns about the critical need to present information responsibly.

    The Travel Industry Association of America recently issued a statement addressing the industry’s concern that a travel crisis may be created – without there being a proven health crisis – if people overreact like they did during the 2003 SARS situation. The statement cites World Tourism Organization data which revealed that the negative impact on world travel during the SARS scare was the result of an "infodemic" – too much news getting passed along that was unsubstantiated and speculative.

    In a Nov. 7 article from Travel Weekly, NTA President Hank Phillips, CTP, echoed that cautionary tone.

    "There was a good deal of overreaction and sensationalization (by the media) of the SARS situation. While it was serious, we need to be accurate brokers of information both ways. If there are issues and problems, we’ve got to be honest about that. But, at the same time, we’ve got to guard against overreacting."

    Currently the U.S. Centers for Disease Control have posted no travel restrictions related to avian flu, not even for the four countries (Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, and Cambodia) where birds have infected humans. They do warn travelers in Asia to avoid open markets where poultry is sold.

    For more detailed information about avian flu from the official U.S. government Web site, click here.

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    NTA Job Center

    Position Available – Group/Tour Sales Manager
    Fiddlers’ Feast

    Excellent pay, benefits and bonus for experienced group/tour sales manager with marketing experience. Job requires booking and promoting of 160-unit hotel, 425-seat buffet and 1,000-seat dinner theater, all located adjacent to each other on the Parkway in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. Must be willing to relocate to Pigeon Forge.

    Fax your resume to 865-429-0159, and then call 865-429-0020 to schedule an appointment. Incredible opportunity for the right person with enough experience in the group tour industry.

    If you have a listing to post in the NTA Job Center section of Tuesday, please e-mail NTA Communications Specialist Pat Henderson. The cost is $250, and your ad will run in two consecutive issues. The association will send an invoice upon publication of the posting.

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