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Join the Grassroots Congressional Summit for Travel | Why Is JP Dansereau So Excited?

April 12, 2011

Volume 31, Issue 15 Salt Lake ad

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Join the Grassroots Congressional Summit for Travel
Why Is JP Dansereau So Excited?
3Qs with Steve Richer
Airline Quality Report Rates Performance for 16 U.S. Airlines
4 Ways to Safeguard Your Stuff when You Fly
Picture Yourself in Courier
Test Your Vegas Luck Early
6 Tips for Creating an Effective Social Media Program
Spend Time with up to 150 of Your Closest Tour Operator Friends
Industry News and Updates

Join the Grassroots Congressional Summit for Travel  

016 Grassroots SymposiumNTA and the Southeast Tourism Society are combining our established congressional events to produce an informative, powerful Grassroots Congressional Summit for Travel in Washington, D.C., May 11–12. (That’s right in the middle of National Travel & Tourism Week.)

Give the travel industry a strong voice on Capitol Hill. Join your colleagues for two days full of GR education and Hill visits:  

Wednesday, May 11

  • 11:30 a.m.—Congressional Tourism Leadership Luncheon at Johnny’s Half Shell Restaurant (Sponsored by Sports Leisure Vacations). Hear about the issues that are affecting travel and your business from the Congressional leaders who are the strongest advocates for tourism.
  • 2-4 p.m.—GR Informational Exhibition, where you can discover the role of federal agencies in supporting the tourism sector.
  • 5:30—Reception at Sonoma Restaurant for Summit attendees and members of Congress.

Thursday, May 12

  • All day—Capitol Hill visits will be scheduled for Summit participants to meet with legislative leaders on tourism issues.

Register today! The $50 registration fee for the Summit includes the luncheon, travel exhibition, the reception and Hill visits.

There is not a host hotel for the Summit. All events will be in the vicinity of Capitol Hill. Click here to use the NTA member search and find NTA member hotels in the area. And for more information, see "3Qs with Steve Richer," below.

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Why Is JP Dansereau So Excited? 

JP DansereauMeet your Contact Chairman, JP Dansereau, director of travel industry sales at Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center. A former NTA board member, Spring Meet enthusiast and a born New Englander, JP says he can’t wait for Contact in Rhode Island this August.

His long history with NTA combined with the location and concept of Contact is why JP said yes when asked to chair Contact’s inaugural year.

"We’ve never really done a show like this before," JP said of this next generation of the Tour Operator Spring Meet. "The Contact Committee is slating speakers like Dan Sullivan of Collette Vacations to really give the inside view—and scoop—on how to succeed as a tour operator, for a true owner-level program."

In addition to the owner-focused programming, Contact offers education tracks for sales & marketing and operations.

Here’s a little background on JP and his advice for what to eat and how to talk while in Rhode Island:

Q: You grew up in New England. How far away were you from Newport?
A: I didn’t come over on the Mayflower, but I did grow up in Plymouth, Mass. Plymouth is about 60 miles away from Newport. If you swim it’s a lot longer! 

Q: What do you miss most about the Northeast?
A: The ocean, the food and the Boston Red Sox!  

Q: What foods are you most looking forward to eating while in Rhode Island?
A: OK…This will be a long list. Clam cakes, fried clams, lobster, New England clam "chowda," calamari, chourico and pizza from Geppetto’s! Sorry Rhode Island, your chowda is good, too!

Q: What’s your favorite thing to tell people about New England?
A: There is uniqueness and charm to New England that is so different from anywhere I have been.          

Q: Any advice for preparing for Newport and Rhode Island?
A: Practice dropping the letter "R" from your vocabulary and replace the letter "O" with an "aw" sound. Examples:  Sox now becomes SAWX, Beer becomes BEAH! Make sure you know what a Quahog is and if you like something it’s "Wikkit Awesome"!  

Q: If you could sum up Contact in one word or one phrase, what would you say?  
A: Knowledge!

Now it’s JP’s turn to ask questions. Watch for the Rhode Island trivia questions he’ll be posting on the NTA Facebook page. The first NTA member to answer correctly on Facebook wins a unique Rhode Island gift shipped to their home. (Hint: JP told us Wednesdays and Thursdays are good days for him to make posts …)

Registrations are already coming in fast. Join your colleagues at Contact in Newport, Rhode Island, August 1–3. Register here.

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3Qs with Steve Richer 

steve richer 2011 headshotA new Tuesday feature, 3Qs jumps to the middle of an issue by asking experts in the travel industry to answer three targeted questions on the topic. We kick off 3Qs with Steve Richer, NTA’s public affairs advocate in Washington, D.C.

Q: Steve, what are the top legislative priorities for travel and tourism right now?
A: Both the travel sector as a whole and NTA in particular have specific policy objectives. These are the most broadly advocated:

  • Improving the visa process and entry/exit system by creating more visa-waiver countries and more access to visa consular staff, and shortening turnaround decisions
  • Funding for the Federal Highway Reauthorization bill to address highways, roads, tunnels and bridges
  • Funding for NextGen aviation technology to modernize and improve the air traffic control system

These items have very broad support within the travel and tourism community nationally.

Q: What action will we see on these items in the 112th Congress?  
A: All of these priorities can be accomplished in this Congress, as funding is available for both the highway and air traffic control items. The visa and access questions may require some additional funding for staffing purposes, but the visa waiver issue can be improved by the passage of S-497, a bill sponsored by Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland) and Mark Kirk (R-Illinois). The bill will change the criteria for visa waiver to the "overstay rate," not the "rejection rate" for visas by country. 

NTA also supports the Travel Regional Investment Partnership Act to be introduced soon, in each chamber, by Senator Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and Representative Sam Farr (D-California).  

Q: Why should NTA members participate in the upcoming Summit?
A: The Summit should be a lot of fun. It’s being held during National Travel & Tourism Week, so there will be heightened interest in our issues. The two-day event includes a high-level luncheon, an afternoon tourism information exhibition and an evening Congressional reception.

All these events, on May 11, promise to provide lots of excellent face time between NTA and travel sector leaders, as well as with members of Congress. On May 12, we will be on the Hill, bringing our issues to the Congressional offices of members and key committee staffers who have responsibility for these items. 

And you know, NTA members who are unable to attend the Summit can accomplish similar goals by visiting the local offices of their senators and representative back home. Writing letters, calling those offices, and sending e-mails to the Washington, D.C., offices of your legislators also has tremendous impact.  Any NTA member can contact me at for assistance.

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Airline Quality Report Rates Performance for 16 U.S. Airlines  

AirTran Airways, Hawaiian Airlines and Jet Blue Airways notched the top three scores in the Airline Quality Rating 2011 report, a detailed analysis of 16 U.S. airlines’ performance during 2010. The report also shows the airline industry improved in overall quality during 2010.

The report, compiled by Dr. Brent D. Bowe, a professor of aviation technology at Purdue University, and Dr. Dean E. Headley, a marketing professor at Wichita State University, delivers ratings and a narrative for each airline and for the industry overall. The AQR score is based on 15 elements of airline performance, each available through published data and each deemed important to air travel consumers. Those elements are grouped into four areas:

  • On-time arrival percentage
  • Mishandled baggage rates
  • Involuntary denied boardings percentage
  • Consumer complaint rates

Of the 16 carriers rated, nine improved their AQR scores from 2009, and seven scores dropped. Click here to view the 61-page report, which includes methodology notes and month-by-month scores for each airline.

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4 Ways to Safeguard Your Stuff when You Fly 

Having important items stolen at the airport or in flight can ruin a trip, and you don’t want a negative experience for your client (or yourself!). You might fly for a lifetime and never have anything stolen, while another flyer gets nicked with regularity. The following tips, from Ed Hewitt on, can help you and your clients avoid being victimized by a thief:

One place: Put all your vital stuff-wallet, boarding pass, driver’s license, medication, phone, etc., in one easily accessible place where you can keep tabs on it.

Two bags: Because you might have to gate-check the large carry-on that contains all your vital stuff, place those items in a smaller bag inside the large one. If forced to gate-check, extract the small bag.

Three things: there are three things you should latch onto at all times: ID, credit card and phone. (Medicine might be a fourth.) Even if everything else you packed is stolen, you’ll still have the items that are the most difficult to replace.

Four others: Besides on planes and in airports, your belongings are also at risk in your hotel, rental car, parking lots and with valets. Be sure to take sensible precautions.

For more details and ideas about protecting your things, read Hewitt’s article.

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Picture Yourself in Courier 

NTA knows that many of you catch up on your Courier reading when you travel. It’s not only a great way to pass the time in an airport or on a motorcoach, but it also allows you to stay on top of all the great product ideas, NTA information and industry updates included in the magazine.

"Where in the World Is Courier?" is an opportunity for you to share your travels with NTA friends by sending a photo of you holding a copy of Courier at a landmark or notable destination. As you smile from the pages of Courier, you’ll stay top of mind with current and future business partners.

To submit your photo, e-mail a high-resolution image and a brief note about where in the world you were with your Courier to Managing Editor Doug Rentz. And to check out a recent snapshot, click here (page 4).

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Test Your Vegas Luck Early 

Maverick HelicoptersHow lucky are you? Here’s your chance to find out!

Convention ’11 registration opens one week from today (April 19 at noon ET). If you register that week (April 19–22), you’ll be entered to win one of the fabulous prizes below. Winners will be drawn first thing the following Monday (April 25); we’ll call the winners, then announce them in Tuesday. It’s a great way to start the work week!

Prizes for Tour Operators (buyers)

  • A helicopter ride to the evening Icebreaker, provided by NTA member Maverick Helicopters
    (Make your entrance to Convention like a celebrity!)
  • Registration to Convention ’11
    (That’s right: We’ll give you your money back.)
  • Free NTA dues for 2012
    (You can save up to $475 for your company.)
  • Reserved VIP table at the luncheon Monday, Dec. 5
    (Invite business partners and friends to join you at your table.)
  • Registration for Montage 2012
    (Your chance to make connections with travel professionals from around the world.)
  • Registration for Contact 2012
    (We haven’t announced the 2012 North American location just yet, but this operator-exclusive event offers three tracks of education and C-suite networking)

Prizes for Tour Suppliers and DMOs (Sellers)

  • A helicopter ride to the evening Icebreaker provided by NTA member Maverick Helicopters.
    (What a way to make an entrance at Convention!)
  • Registration to Convention ’11
    (That’s right: We’ll give you your money back!)
  • Free NTA dues for 2012
    (You can save up to $1,725 for your property.)
  • Full-page ad in the 2011 Convention catalog
    (An extra opportunity to promote your destination or property to operators at Convention—a US$4,850 value.)
  • Reserved VIP table at the luncheon Monday, Dec. 5
    (Make it another networking opportunity! Invite business partners and friends to join you at your table.)

A seminar sponsorship and attendance package to Contact 2012
(Your destination or property gets all the seminar sponsor perks, including being able to attend this operator-exclusive event—a US$3,000 value.) 

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6 Tips for Creating an Effective Social Media Program 

We told you last Tuesday that the use of social media is becoming commonplace in the travel industry, and now a survey conducted by a European consultant helps with how-tos. Results of their survey from some 600 hoteliers showed that hotels typically manage their own program, spending less than US$5,000. Whether you operate a hotel or a tour company, these tips can help you start—and maintain—a social media program that will build your brand and enhance customer relations.

Make sure there’s buy-in. A social media program requires staff time and company funds (for equipment), so you’ll need buy-in from top to bottom. 

Create and train a team. Identify people who will know the answer to any guest inquiry. Make sure they have the time and skill to respond.

Coordinate your content. Create a content management strategy that embraces all marketing activities: social, mobile and e-mail, along with the hotel Web site.

Establish a routine. Create a daily social media routine, which includes monitoring local news and events, plus checking the feeds from your social media sites throughout the day.

Track ROI. Create measureable goals and a means for monitoring them. Keep in mind that building relationships is as important as amassing bookings.

Keep the conversation going. Provide fresh and compelling offers and comments, and be sure to respond to digital compliments from guests.

See the entire list of tips, on Tnooz.

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Spend Time with up to 150 of Your Closest Tour Operator Friends 

As many as 150 tour operators will gather to attend NTA’s Contact ’11, August 1–3. Tour suppliers and DMOs, there’s only one way you can attend NTA’s one-and-only tour operator-exclusive event: Sponsorship. Sponsor Contact and you’ll receive full access to all those tour operators: go on the sightseeing tours with them, network with them, eat a meal with them and do business with them. And while you’re at it, you’ll be enjoying beautiful Newport, Rhode Island.

Sponsorships are sold on a first-come, first-serve basis, so don’t miss this opportunity. Check out the available sponsorships today to make sure you secure a spot at Contact. Call or e-mail Karla DiNardo (+1.859.226.4232) for additional details.

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