June 19, 2007
Tuesday Newsletter June 19, 2007
Volume 27: Issue 25
|Join NTA in Kansas City for the 2007 NTA Annual Convention to explore innovative ways to develop tour product. Our host city has invested $4.5 billion in ongoing downtown revitalization and will welcome the NTA family Nov. 2-6. Click here to learn more and experience NTA!|
|Interested in becoming a Tuesday sponsor? E-mail Karla DiNardo at karla.dinardo@NTA.travel.|
NTA Meets with Washington, D.C., Transportation Staff on Motorcoach Fee
Expedited Passport Refunds Available; Updates on Mexico, Canada Rules
NTA Grassroots Symposium to Take Place Sept. 24-25
Tour Operator Profile Updates … NTA Will Do it for You
Benefit Basics: Save with The Berkely Group
Tour Operators Continuing to Assist With NTA Tracking Initiative
Reach Group Leader Segment through Trip Planner
Target Every Tour Operator at Convention through Profile Form Notebook
NTA Legislative Counsel Jim Santini and Industry and Government Relations Director Matt Grayson met with Washington, D.C., Department of Transportation officials Kenneth Edmonson and Joan Bailey to discuss the upcoming $50 motorcoach permit fee, which is scheduled for implementation Aug. 1.
Santini expressed concern over the lack of advance notice and the impact to senior and student motorcoach groups traveling to Washington, D.C., and the officials noted their concerns. Edmonson and Bailey responded to several questions regarding the motorcoach trip permit and passed along this information:
- Permits will be issued for a one- to six-day period as requested by the motorcoach company
- Turnaround time for the issuance of the permits is three to five days
- Permits can be requested online and will be mailed to the coach company
- At this time, there is not a refund procedure in place for unused permits
- Penalty (per coach) for failure to register or for overstaying the permitted time is $500
Bailey and Edmonson said that it was unclear at this time how the $50 fee will be utilized by the Washington, D.C., government. It is likely that some proceeds will be devoted to upgrading infrastructure for motorcoaches in the area, but details are sketchy at this point and it is unlikely that this will be defined before the Aug. 1 implementation of the fee.
NTA will continue to monitor the situation and will report any further information via "This Just In" and in upcoming issues of Tuesday.
The U.S. State Department announced last week that it will reimburse travelers who paid an extra $60 for but did not receive expedited service when they applied for their passports. The agency’s Web site has detailed information on the reimbursement process, as well as information for first-time applicants or those renewing their passports.
The passport waiver applies only to American citizens leaving and entering the United States. Other nations’ entry requirements may be different, so travelers should contact destination embassies or consulates for specific requirements. Mexico, for example, still requires a passport, a birth certificate (or certified copy of it) or a naturalization document for entry.
The Canadian government is making a few changes to its passport policies as well. Canadian citizens applying for a passport renewal will not have to provide proof of citizenship or a guarantor as of Aug. 15. First-time applicants also will be able to use nearly anyone with a passport as a guarantor as of Oct. 15. Guarantors, who vouch for an applicant’s identity, are currently restricted to a small list of professionals. The Canadian government also pledged to hire hundreds of new passport staff, to extend office hours in some cities and to add 65 post offices and government service centers where people can apply.
Make plans to join your colleagues to learn about key travel-related legislation and to talk to your elected officials about tourism issues during the 2007 NTA Grassroots Symposium. At the event, which will be held Sept. 24-25 in Washington, D.C., elected officials and industry insiders will give you the latest information from the Hill.
A highlight for 2007 will be the first ever NTA Washington, D.C., gala event on Sept. 25. Invite your member of Congress and/or staff to learn about NTA and the packaged travel industry at this new and exciting event.
Click here to access the Symposium registration form. A limited number of rooms are available at the Hotel Washington for a special rate, and you must indicate on the registration form if you’d like to be in the NTA room block to receive this rate.
As always, there is no registration fee to attend the Symposium and all event-related programming is free. E-mail NTA Industry and Government Relations Director Matt Grayson with any questions.
Kansas City, Missouri, home to nearly 500,000 people, will welcome NTA during the 2007 NTA Annual Convention, Nov. 2-6. The City of Fountains is undergoing a $4.5 billion upgrade and NTA members will have the opportunity to see the fruits of this revival, as well as experience the city’s rich history.
Here are some interesting tidbits and facts on this year’s host city:
- The Country Club Plaza opened in 1922 in Kansas City as the nation’s first suburban shopping district designed for the automobile. The nine-block Power and Light District, slated to open this fall, will complement the Country Club Plaza with its shopping, restaurants, nightlife and entertainment venues.
Jazz and barbecue are integral parts of life in Kansas City. The jam session originated in the city, and the sweet taste of barbecue cooked over hickory wood is available at more than 100 barbecue joints in the area.
A number of famous faces once called the city home, including Walt Disney, Harry S. Truman, Kate Spade, Ginger Rogers, Charlie Parker, Jesse James, Walter Cronkite, Melissa Etheridge and Jackie Robinson.
Since NTA’s National Tourism Foundation and USTOA’s Travelers Conservation Foundation became Tourism Cares in 2005, Tourism Cares has contributed more than $1 million in grants to cultural and historic sites worldwide, scholarships to future leaders of our industry and in-kind volunteer help to tourism sites in need. Through these efforts, Tourism Cares has become the organization to which the travel and tourism industry turns to give back.
Along with becoming Leadership Circle members of Tourism Cares and making tax-deductible donations to NTA’s official philanthropy, association members can help by supporting the live and silent auctions at the 2007 NTA Annual Convention in Kansas City, Missouri. Tourism Cares is encouraging DMOs to rally their constituents and create unique, all-inclusive vacation packages for bidding at the live auction. New for this year, the silent auction will feature higher-end tangible items such as sports memorabilia and hand-crafted products.
Another new feature is the raffle to raise funds for the Tourism Cares for the Gulf Coast restoration fund. The entire Gulf Coast still needs help and while Tourism Cares has already disbursed $100,000 to sites affected by the hurricanes of 2005, its work is not finished. The raffle will take place throughout Convention and delegates can purchase chances to win overnight packages, event tickets and more.
Please watch for e-mails from Tourism Cares detailing the ways you can help. If you have any questions, e-mail or call Tourism Cares at 781.821.5990.
Attention tour operators – if you haven’t already received a call from an NTA representative, you can expect one in the next few weeks as part of a very important initiative to update all tour operator profiles.
NTA understands that updating this information takes some time away from your business and wants to make the process easier, so a Member Service team representative will do it for you. The call will take approximately 15 minutes, as a team member asks you the questions and updates your profile during the call. Or, you can have your information faxed to you and you can make corrections on paper and send it back.
When your profile is updated in NTA’s database, your fellow members can get a more complete understanding of your company and partnering possibilities. Additionally, that can translate into better Tour & Travel Exchange appointments for you at Annual Convention this November.
So far, 294 tour operators have been contacted and more than 100 profiles have been updated. The process will continue in the next couple of weeks and when you are contacted, please take a few minutes to assist with this project.
NTA Corporate Partner The Berkely Group, designs and customizes travel insurance products for tour operator members in the United States. Tour operators may qualify for premium credits as high as 15 percent off already low member rates on insurance through the partnership.
The coverage, available through Berkely, protects tour operators from claims arising from negligent acts, errors or omissions in professional services rendered. The policy includes both General Liability and Professional Liability, and covers incidents occurring anywhere in the world during the policy period.
"Insurance protects against the unexpected," said NTA member Richard Durgan of Durgan Travel Services in Stoneham, Massachusetts. "Errors and omissions insurance are critically important as the simplest error or omission can happen to the best of us and is protected by this coverage. The people at Berkely have always been there to protect NTA members and I am comforted by that."
During the 2007 NTA Annual Convention, tour operators can attend one of two seminars on risk management, led by Berkely representatives. The first one takes place Friday, Nov. 2, 8-9 a.m. and the other will be held Monday, Nov. 5, 8:30-9:30 a.m. Tour operators may receive a premium credit of 5 percent toward their next insurance policy for attending one of the sessions.
Click here for more information on The Berkely Group partnership or contact Karla DiNardo at 800.682.8886, ext. 4232 (U.S. and Canada) or 859.226.4232 or via e-mail. Canadian tour operators who are interested in insurance coverage should click here for more information on Corporate Partner Pottruff and Smith Insurance Brokers.
NTA’s Person-to-Person Tracking project, aimed at gathering relevant data from tour operators that can aid DMOs in their ongoing struggle to prove the importance of what they do, needs more participants. RoseMarie Sutton-Holt is overseeing the program, and she has been conducting one-on-one phone interviews with NTA tour operators the past few months.
Jay Smith of Sports Travel and Tours in Hatfield, Massachusetts, had this to say about the tracking process, "As a tour operator running a business in 2007, no one ever wants more things added to the to do list. I want to tell you how easy and hassle-free it was to fill out the research tracking forms for hopefully great results to give to our suppliers and DMOs. I was fortunate that my internal reporting was able to give me the information that I needed without spending a lot of time. In total, maybe an hour at most was spent and that was to write out on the forms what I already had on my reports."
It isn’t too late for additional tour operators to take part in this very important project. To do your part, contact NTA Vice President, Marketing, Lisa Thompson.
Additionally, NTA would like to thank the following operators who recently participated in the initiative:
NTA tour operators said that group leaders are an integral part of their customer base. Your association wants to make it easier for you to market to this influential group of buyers through a special publication, The Trip Planner for Group Leaders.
The publication includes editorial that is specifically geared toward a target audience of 20,000 qualified group leaders. Articles in this unique resource for the group leader will highlight the diversity and professionalism of NTA and its members. The extended shelf life of this planning guide will provide year-round exposure for NTA members.
Members who choose to advertise in this publication will have added opportunity to promote their companies. Tour suppliers and DMOs who advertise can submit listings of festivals, events and theater productions they are promoting through 2010. Tour operators who participate in the publication can submit up to three one-page sample online itineraries, including company Web links and e-mail.
For more information regarding promotional opportunities related to The Trip Planner for Group Leaders, please e-mail Karla DiNardo, NTA’s vice president of sales and publishing, or call her at 800.682.8886, ext. 4232 (U.S. and Canada) or 859.226.4232.
Looking for a way to eliminate the need to ship boxes of your company’s profile sheets to the 2007 NTA Annual Convention? By having your company information pre-inserted into the Profile Form Notebook before the 2007 Convention, you can save this additional step and still reach NTA tour operators.
The Profile Form Notebook, a three-ring binder that is divided into state/provincial sections, is placed in every tour operator’s booth on the Tour & Travel Exchange floor at Convention. This publication is a year-long planning tool for the association’s operators and offers great visibility at a great price.
Premium space is available on a first-come, first-served basis for all state/province tabs for your company’s full-page advertisement and there is unlimited space behind each tab for your company’s double-sided profile sheet. The space deadline is Aug. 15, so book your space now and be sure to be in front of every attending tour operator – not just the ones you will meet during your appointments.
For more information, call your account executive call 800.682.8886, ext. 4232 or 859.226.4232 or e-mail advertising@NTA.travel.
The Courier editorial staff is seeking the latest versions of photo CDs from members who haven’t sent in updated image disks in the past six months. Even though many DMOs and tour suppliers have photo galleries on their Web sites, some images are not high resolution/print quality due to Web site size restrictions, and it is better to burn the larger images to a CD and mail them.
Tour operators also are encouraged to send in their print-quality photos of their clients on tour, especially images showing travelers taking part in hands-on activities, educational workshops, hard and soft adventure or touring an exhibit or attraction.
Photo CDs should be mailed to:
Doug Rentz, Managing Editor
National Tour Association
546 East Main Street
Lexington, KY 40508
If you have any questions, please contact Courier Managing Editor Doug Rentz at 800.682.8886, ext. 4235 (U.S. and Canada) or 859.226.4235 or via e-mail.
Nominations for the prestigious Bob Everidge Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognizes individuals who have made outstanding, ongoing contributions to NTA and its members, are due June 22. The award will be presented at the 2007 Annual Convention.