#1 Largest Resource on the Internet for Specialty Markets in the Travel & Meetings/Events Industry

Monday, December 30, 2013

Arrangements under way for Pope visit to Jordan

Amman - A Vatican official has said that arrangements are being made for a visit by Pope Francis to the holy lands next year, which will start from Jordan.

Following a meeting with Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh in Amman, Vatican Foreign Minister Archbishop Dominique Mamberti said that during his August visit to the Vatican, His Majesty King Abdullah invited the pontiff to visit the Kingdom. He said "specific arrangements" are currently being looked into. It is expected that the visit will be next year and the Pope's visit to the holy lands will start from Jordan, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported. Judeh and the Vatican's top diplomat reviewed the latest regional conditions and issues of joint concern during their meeting, the agency said.

Judeh said the meeting was in follow-up of the "important visit" by King Abdullah to the Vatican in August, his meeting with Pope Francis and the talks he held with the pontiff. At his meeting with Vatican's visiting foreign minister, Judeh stressed the Kingdom's continued commitment to strengthening relations with the Vatican in a manner that fosters the values of love and harmony between the nations and achieves peace and stability for the people and the countries of the Middle East.

Discussions focused on political developments in the region, the Middle East peace process and Jordan's position which asserts the need for establishing an independent viable and sovereign Palestinian state that lives in peace and security with its neighbours.

Judeh explained that Jordan is a "model of tolerance and co-existence" between the Christian and Muslim people, highlighting King Abdullah's custodianship of Christian and Islamic sites and his role in safeguarding them and protecting the Christian residents of Jerusalem.

Stressing the strong diplomatic relations between Jordan and the Vatican, Mamberti underlined the importance of Jordan as a holy land and a country that respects religious pluralism, unity and harmony among all its people, not only to create peace in the Arab region but also in the Middle East as a whole.  
Source: The Jordan Times  

Monday, December 16, 2013

Travel Exchange ’14 Attracting More Buyers


More buyers are heading to Los Angeles for NTA's annual gathering, Travel Exchange, held Feb. 16-20 in conjunction with the United Motorcoach Association's Motorcoach EXPO. 
Registration for tour operator companies is pacing ahead of Travel Exchange '13, and this year NTA is welcoming a new type of buyer to the event: For the first time, the association is inviting travel agents to meet with tour operators and destination representatives.

"We know that having more buyers attracts more sellers, so the addition of travel agents—plus more operators—will make for a more robust business environment in L.A.," said NTA Chairman and CEO Mark Hoffmann, CTP. "We can expect a West Coast windfall for our members at Travel Exchange."

Along with Travel Exchange's business appointments, delegates can profit from the event's educational focus on niche markets. NTA will again host its popular leadership forums, where experts and members share strategies for specific travel types: adventure, faith and family travel. In education seminars, members will gain insights about markets that include China, Canada, sports travel, LGBT and agritourism, along with business strategies for marketing, media and management. Additional education is available to NTA members through sessions offered by UMA.
The first combined show for NTA and UMA was in January in Orlando, Fla. Along with adding even more buyers to Travel Exchange, UMA also attracts suppliers whose products and services engage members of both associations. And attendees can expect to see more suppliers at Travel Exchange '14, according to Victor Parra, UMA president and CEO.

"We can't believe how many first-time suppliers we will have in L.A., where exhibit space is about 90 percent sold out already," Parra said. "It's a nice feeling to know that word of the great show we had in Orlando has gotten around, and so many new suppliers want to be with us in 2014."
NTA and UMA will share the show floor, allowing buyers and sellers from both associations to make new connections and generate new partnerships. Delegates can also connect during luncheons, social events and sightseeing excursions. It's a productive environment for business, said Hoffmann.

"I won't say it's the perfect storm, because we're getting together in sunny Los Angeles," Hoffmann said. "But it's an ideal gathering of people, product and opportunities."

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Do you do business in adventure travel or want to enter this growing market?

Then here’s why you can’t miss Travel Exchange ’14—the one industry show that puts the full spectrum of North American Travel buyers and sellers on the same floor.

By registering for Travel Exchange, Feb. 16–20, in Los Angeles, you can: 

  • Participate in the Active/Adventure Travel Leaders Forum with other professionals who actively are engaged in adventure-themed trips.
  • Hear keynote speaker Bruce Poon Tip, founder of G Adventures and global leader in social entrepreneurship, and learn adventure market trends and demographic insights.
  • Attend seminars that are focused on risk management, sustainability, and social marketing integration and influence.
  • Connect with tour suppliers and destination representatives—from local CVBs, states and provinces, and more than 30 countries worldwide—in the Destination Pavilion to build dynamic itineraries right on the spot. 

You also can take advantage of the city’s proximity to some of America’s top national parks that offer a range of soft- and hard-adventure product: 

  • Joshua Tree National Park (140 miles)
  • Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks (250 miles)
  • Death Valley National Park (290 miles)
  • Yosemite National Park (315 miles) 

Travel Exchange is the place to discover new adventures and once-in-a-lifetime experiences for your clients. Hear from Travel Oregon's Lisa Itel on why she feels Travel Exchange is THE show to attend in 2014, and click here to see the full schedule and to register today!


Sunday, December 8, 2013

NTA’s Simon: We’re Welcoming Travel Agents (by Harvey Chipkin/Travel Market Report)

Author: Harvey Chipkin
Article link:

NTA president Lisa Simon is stepping down after a seven-year tenure. One of the organization’s last actions under her leadership was its recent invitation to travel agents—a first—to participate in its annual Travel Exchange. This year’s event will be held Feb. 16 to 20 in Los Angeles.

Simon leaves behind an organization that, among its other accomplishments, has taken the initiative in developing the burgeoning inbound China travel market to the U.S.

Simon talked with Travel Market Report about the move to include travel agents, its efforts in the China market and trends in the tour operator segment.

Why did NTA decide to invite travel agents to its 2014 Travel Exchange?
Simon: Half of our members work with agents and there has been discussion about inviting them for years. It was finally decided that it is a good idea on a number of fronts. Those who already work with agents will have access to them. Those who don’t currently work with agents will benefit from networking with them and potentially developing relationships.

Ideally, the number of members who work with agents will grow. In addition, our suppliers and destination management organizations always like to see more buyers – and agents are buyers.

What’s in it for the agents?
Simon: It gives them an opportunity to meet not only with tour operators but with suppliers and destinations. We see a special opportunity in the special interest market education we have at the conference.
While they can stay for the entire week, we have specifically invited agents for a two-day program aimed at them which focuses heavily on special interest travelers.

There will also be special appointment sessions with tour operators. These are not one-on-one sessions but roundtables with one or two tour operators meeting with buyers. And even without an appointment agents can meet with suppliers on the floor – and network with everyone at social events.

What’s been the response from agents so far?
Simon: We have had a lot of interest and are expecting some registrants closer to the conference. We think it will be a regional situation with agents who are nearby attending. We have members in the Los Angeles area working with agent groups to promote the conference.
And the Association of Retail Travel Agents (ARTA) and Outside Sales Support Network (OSSN) are promoting our travel agent program at Travel Exchange.

Does NTA work with agents in other ways?
Simon: Yes, we have partnered with ASTA on reaching out to the Hispanic market. We also have the National Association of Career Travel Agents (NACTA) as a strategic partner.

Does this invitation to agents signal a commitment to the agency community?
Simon: Yes, we are very bullish on agents. It’s an important relationship on several fronts. The travel agent is the frontline distribution point that tour operators can count on to promote the idea of tours to their customers.
Most of the tour operators who don’t work with agents are smaller ones and we think they can benefit from that relationship as well. Also, while there is no current membership category for agents, we think that may happen at some point.

What do you consider NTA’s major accomplishments during your tenure?
Simon: We did the first Travel Exchange earlier this year that co-located our event with the United Motorcoach Association. The energy on the floor was really exciting. This year the conference will have lots of education, panel discussions and market-specific forums as well as social events.

What about your efforts in the China inbound market?
Simon: This is a huge program for us and probably what I’m most proud of. We are the only organization that approves tour operators who are able to do business with Chinese tour operators sending travelers to the U.S. Our participation was critical to the memo of understanding between China and the U.S. government.

China told the U.S. government that it had to have a list of qualified tour operators and the government said it couldn’t do that, but we agreed to do it.
We qualify operators based on their language capabilities, quality assurance, professional guides and whatever else the Chinese asked for. We then send our list, which now includes 144 qualified operators, to the Chinese tourism authorities.

What trends do you see in the tour operator community?
Simon: Technology is changing the way people do business and tour operators will continue to become better at online marketing and selling. Also, globalization is important. Even if you’re an operator with a regional constituency, you are dealing with a global marketplace.

Everyone has a bucket list and consumers want to travel everywhere. Tour operators have to be able to accommodate them – either themselves or through partners. That’s why we introduced international members in 2003 and now have members from 44 countries.

Has NTA done anything relating to the millennial market?
Simon: Millennials will have a huge impact on the travel product. We have had a task force on that for a couple of years and held our first Young Professionals Town Hall at our Travel Exchange in January.

Next year we will do that again as well as an Ask the Young Professionals sessions where a panel of millennials will discuss their preferences. We will have a similar session called Ask the Veterans with veteran members sharing their experiences.

What about NTA’s future?
Simon: It’s going in the right direction with its focus educationally and programmatically on special interest groups. Special interest will be the way to keep the tour product alive and relevant. People like to travel with like-minded people and experiential travel has never been more important.

What are your personal plans? Will you be staying in the industry?
Simon: I will likely stay in tourism, although I have not finalized any plans. I want to take some time to make sure I end up in the right place. I have been with NTA for the better part of my professional life and I love the organization, but it’s time for me to move on. It’s a great opportunity for the association to get in new leadership and new perspectives on moving forward during a time of rapid change.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Finding the Family Travel Niche: Opportunity to Exploit the Failings of Google

Here's a link to a very fascinating, insightful article by Canadian Travel Press on the weaknesses that currently exist in online travel in relation to the family travel market. 

My favorite part of the article is the last 2 paragraphs, which talks about the need for an "Amazon approach" in regards to online travel (i.e. storing your current and previous wants and likes of travel).  Wow - I personally never thought before about this golden opportunity and weakness  currently existing, but I completely agree with it.

Article link:

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

9 Travel Industry Market Guides Available

Do you specialize in student and youth travel? Or maybe you're interested in learning more about agritourism. Or have you ever wondered what the buzz is about family or faith-based travel? NTA now has Travel Market Guides, educational and interactive8.23.11 9 resources to meet your needs in discovering nine key industry travel markets:
  • 1. Adventure and active travel
  • 2. Agritourism
  • 3. China inbound
  • 4. Culinary travel
  • 5. Faith-based travel
  • 6. Family and multi-generational travel
  • 7. Hispanic travel
  • 8. Sports travel
  • 9. Student and youth travel
Each PDF reference guide includes market definitions, statistics, important facts, member quotes and an explanation of NTA's leadership role, as well as direct links to Courier articles, webinars and Travel Exchange presentations on each subject.

Click here to access all nine Travel Market Guides

Statistics on PANKS "Professional Aunts, No Kids" (by Travel Market Report)

Link to article: http://www.travelmarketreport.com/content/publiccontent.aspx?pageid=1365&articleid=9208

According to research from Savvy Auntie:
•    PANKs spend an average of $387 a year on each child in their life, according to research from savvyauntie.com. An estimated 76% spend more than $500 annually on each child.

•    48% say that they enjoy traveling with nieces and nephews.

•    These women are better-educated and have higher household income than the population at large. They are much more likely to rely on experts for advice about purchasing decisions.

•    They excel in sharing information about travel. They’re strong influencers via word-of-mouth as well as social media.

No Kids? No Problem, Aunts Travel With Nieces and Nephews (by Ana Figueroa/Travel Market Report)

Article link to Travel Market Report:
The travel industry should take note of the power of the newly-dubbed PANKs: Professional Aunts, No Kids.

This segment holds huge potential as buyers of travel, according to the recent World Travel Mart 2013 Global Trends Report. Conducted with Euromonitor International, the report singled out PANKs as a key emerging demographic—and one that has yet to be exploited by the travel industry.

PANKs are defined as women over the age of 18 who don’t have children of their own but have close relationships with friends’ and relatives’ kids. They are a steadily growing population.

Here’s what travel agents need to know about this new market.

Impressive numbers
According to the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau survey, nearly 43% of 15- to 44-year-old women were childless. That’s an increase of 3% over 2002 figures.

A 2012 joint study by the web-based community Savvy Auntie and Weber Shandwick and KRC Research, estimated the number of U.S. PANKs at 23 million. It also found this market spends some $9 million annually on children.

Indulging the kids
“As women marry later, they are also having kids later or not at all,” said Melanie Notkin, CEO of Savvy Auntie.

“They’re spending a great deal of time earning income. That income gives them the option to indulge niece and nephews.”

“Indulging” doesn’t necessarily involve material goods, Notkin added. In her blog, Notkin noted the “Auntventures” that PANKs often take with nieces and nephews.

“These women can play an important role [in childrens’ lives] by providing new cultural adventures and world perspectives. Taking nieces and nephews on trips accomplishes this in a literal sense,” said Notkin.

Where agents come in
Opportunities abound for agents as well as suppliers to target this market. But doing so requires making some changes in the definition of “family travel.”

“In all industries we tend to look at women as either moms or newlyweds or part of a couple,” Notkin said.

“There is some marketing to single women. But rarely do we see women as aunts with the opportunity to take nieces or nephews on a trip.”

Marketing to PANKs
Notkin cited tour operator Intrepid Travel as one company that’s targeting PANKs through social media, dedicated emails and advertorials.

Intrepid specializes in small group international cultural tours. That’s a niche that appeals to PANKs for several reasons: it’s safe, well-organized, meaningful, experiential and tends to be good value.

Intrepid Travel’s research found that PANKs are interested in domestic travel, particularly to Disney resorts and Hawaii. “In Europe, the U.K. is in high demand,” said Notkin.

Old stereotypes
Targeting this market not only makes good business sense, it helps combat age-old stereotypes.

“Overall, PANKs can feel sidelined by society,” said Notkin. “The modern childless aunt of today is sophisticated and worldly.

“She’s not the stereotypical old maid or nutty, blue-haired relative. She’s not the spinster we used to feel sorry for.”

On the contrary.

PANKs are often important role models for nieces and nephews. Traveling together affirms and strengthens those ties in significant ways.

Tapping into the “Auntventures” market is well worth the effort although realizing results may take some time, Notkin said.

“It’s like the guest that you’ve never before invited to the party. You can’t expect them to show up immediately as soon as you decide to invite them.”

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

New "Travel Market Guides" Just Published!

How can you learn about some of the biggest and fasting growing markets in the travel industry? Check out NTA's new Travel Market Guides on the following 9 markets:  

1.       Adventure and Active Travel

2.       Agritourism

3.       China-Inbound Travel

4.       Culinary Travel

5.       Faith-based Travel

6.       Family Travel

7.       Hispanic Travel

8.       Sports Travel

9.       Student and Youth Travel

Faith Guide
Family guide
Family &
  Adventure Guide
China Guide
& Active
China Inbound
Hispanic Guide
Student Guide Icon
 Student & Youth
Agritourism Guide Icon
Culinary Market Guide Icon
Sports Guide Icon

Friday, November 15, 2013

Speakers Bios at Travel Exchange

View Travel Exchange's speakers and bios at:

Peter Greenberg Bruce Poon Tip
Paul Vitale
Paul VitaleCatherine HeegPeter Kerr
"Maximize your sales team’s potential by joining me for my session, Sell With Confidence—Unlock Your Potential Management Solutions!  During this intense yet entertaining session, my goal is to help you lead your team in polishing sales methods, enlisting practical yet effective approaches, and increasing productivity.  Come explore ways to sharpen your sales team’s skills, in order to continue prospering well into the future!"

"Keeping pace in our industry is a challenge.  Come out and join the social media marketing sessions and learn how you can jumpstart your social presence and stay ahead of the marketing curve. Join me and walk away with tips and tactics you can use immediately.  We’ll have some fun exploring new social marketing strategies.""My goal is to make you look good. These multimedia sessions pack in the information and the entertainment, so you'll actually enjoy learning how to plan for crises, attract the media in creative ways, and deliver powerful messages. Come be inspired to use the press to promote your organization!"
Erik WolfCindy Richards
Haybina HaoJeremy SampsonKevin Wright
Peter Greenberg
A multiple Emmy Award-winning investigative reporter and producer, Peter Greenberg is America’s most recognized, honored and respected front-line travel news journalist. Known in the industry as “The Travel Detective,” he is the travel editor for CBS News, appearing on many of the CBS News programs.
The consummate insider on reporting the travel business as news, Greenberg hosts and produces a variety of television shows.  He is also author of The New York Times best-selling Travel Detective series and his most recent book is titled The Best Places for Everything. Currently editor at large of Global Business Travel magazine and is a contributing writer to Watch.
Peter began his career in journalism as West Coast correspondent for Newsweek in Los Angeles and San Francisco. He won a national Emmy Award (Best Investigative Reporting) for his ABC “20/20” special on the final orphan flight out of Vietnam. He also is the recipient of the Distinguished Service Award in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin, and an Excellence in Broadcasting Award from the Aviation Space Writers Association of America.
His website, PeterGreenberg.com, is one of the leading travel news resources for consumers and industry insiders alike. When he is not traveling the globe, Greenberg also serves as an active volunteer firefighter in New York.
Haybina Hao
Haybina is native Chinese and has worked the China market for 20 years. Prior to NTA, Haybina served as the Chinese Market Manager for Western Leisure, a tour operator in Salt Lake City. She dealt with all aspects of the business including product development, working with DMOs and suppliers, handling marketing and sales, pricing/negotiations, driving/guiding tours, and promoting destinations/attractions.  At NTA, Haybina oversees NTA’s China market initiatives including supervising the NTA China office until its closure at the end of 2012. Haybina also works closely with the Chinese travel trade and government agencies. Part of her work is to assist NTA members with their China market needs and oversees professional translation services. To date, Haybina has helped more than 100 companies and destinations enter the China market. 

Catherine Heeg

Catherine Heeg is a tourism, travel and hospitality industry expert with over three decades experience. Based in Calgary, Catherine works with professionals to enhance their marketing knowledge and is a contributor to Courier.
She is committed to helping clients quickly learn the best ways to leverage the power of social media and other relevant marketing tactics. Catherine delivers proven tools that help companies reach their target audience, differentiate themselves and achieve authentic visibility that translates into winning results. 
For her entire career Catherine has trained and lead sales and marketing teams in the hotel, airline, tour wholesale, car rental and travel agency sectors.  With this practical knowledge she specializes in inspiring social marketing success.
Past President of Skål International Calgary, she’s also a business owner, triathlete and loves skiing, hiking and golfing.
Peter Kerr
Peter Kerr is president of KerrCommunications, offering world-class training for media engagement, crisis planning, intercultural communications and leadership improvement. He’s a professor of communications at Asbury University, with degrees in engineering and leadership from the Air Force Academy, an MA in Communications from the University of Washington and an MDIV from ATS.
Peter's traveled to more than 50 countries on six continents. He’s worked with many media outlets including CNN, NBC, FOX, BBC, NY Times, USA Today, NPR, London Times, Der Spiegel, and Al Jazeera. Peter led media relations during the 2004 Reagan Funeral, did crisis planning for the 2010 World Equestrian Games and has media trained hundreds of leaders including White House officials, generals, CEOs, and non-profit leaders. Other experiences include negotiating with U.S. embassies and foreign military leaders in the Middle East and serving as Chief Media Liaison Officer for Outdoor Games in Beijing for the 2008 Olympics.
Kim Orlando

Kim Orlando is the founder of
TravelingMom.com, and the TravelingMom Blogger Network, the nation’s top web site and blog network for moms who travel with (and without) their kids.  TravelingMom.com was named one of the top 4 family travel websites by Sherman’s Travel in 2010.  In addition to the magazine-style destination reviews, travel stories, product reviews, and other content, TravelingMom.com has a network of expert bloggers, each of whom writes from a specific perspective--Traveling GrandMom, Special Needs TravelingMom, Traveling with Babies Mom, TravelingMom with Teens, Traveling with Pets Mom and about 50 others.  Orlando is a sought-after speaker and broadcast source on travel issues relating to moms and provides travel commentary for BlueSuitMom.com, Wyndham’s Women on Their Way, CityBuzz, DailyBuzz, Ripley’s Radio and MomTalkRadio.  
Bruce Poon Tip 
Bruce Poon Tip is the founder of G Adventures and is a global leader in sustainability and social entrepreneurship.
He has spoken multiple times at the request of the United Nations and World Bank, presented at the headquarters of Apple and Google, and delivered keynote speeches at TED events and leading entrepreneurship conferences around the world.
In 2012, Bruce was inducted into the Social Venture Network Hall of Fame, alongside Richard Branson (Virgin Airlines), Anita Roddick (The Body Shop), and Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield (Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream).
Bruce’s first book, Looptail: How One Company Changed the World by Reinventing Business is on sale now.

Cindy Richards
Cindy Richards is a Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist who has been a reporter, editorial writer and columnist at Chicago's two biggest newspapers, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune. She has been an editor at regional magazines, run international projects for TripAdvisor and taught journalism at the prestigious Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Today, she is the Editor-in-Chief and Managing Editor for TravelingMom.com and its subsidiary companies, TravelingDad.com and SheBuysCars.com.

Jeremy Sampson

Jeremy Sampson is Senior Director, Marketing and Communications for Sustainable Travel International. In his role, he oversees all marketing and communication efforts, including the development of a new brand and website for the organization’s 10th Anniversary. Jeremy also leads projects for destination and corporate clients which link sustainability initiatives to strategic marketing and product development. These include the Festival & Events component of the North American Destination Marketing Campaign in Namibia, and the Oregon Travel Philanthropy Fund. A practiced trainer and published writer, Jeremy is known for his ability to deliver learning outcomes in an entertaining and compelling manner.
Paul Vitale

Paul Vitale has become one of America’s most sought speakers for his unique combination of excitement, energy, and experience to encourage and motivate others.  The founder of Vital Communications, Inc., Paul is a native of Arkansas and acquired his degree in mass communications and journalism from the University of Central Arkansas.

Paul speaks worldwide about the significance of optimism, a strong work ethic, and concepts vital to personal and professional growth, while reaching hundreds of thousands of people from all walks of life. His clients include NTA, ESPN, Walmart, Southwest Airlines, the Minnesota Vikings, the Antiques Roadshow, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, United Way, Tyson Foods, the St. Louis Rams, and Dole Hong Kong.

Prior to speaking professionally, Paul was director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau in Hot Springs, Arkansas.  Preceding his role at the CVB, Paul launched his professional career with the largest marketing firm in the State of Arkansas—Cranford Johnson Robinson Woods.  His team was responsible for all of the Natural State’s tourism promotion.

Paul has authored four books and been featured on NBC, ABC, FOX, and the Minnesota Vikings Entertainment Network, and is a regular guest on talk shows sharing his insight and life strategies.  Paul’s expertise, enthusiasm, and ability to encourage people to exceed their potential have been described by his audiences as extraordinary.

Erik Wolf
Erik Wolf is recognized internationally as the founder of the food tourism industry. With nearly 25 years of experience in travel marketing, he has worked with a variety of travel industry companies and international organizations that have included Disney, Travelocity, Royal Caribbean, Marriott and American Express. He is considered the go-to food tourism resource for media including the BBC, the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Forbes, PeterGreenberg.com, Ariang Korea, and many more. Erik also advises on a regular basis to UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network gastronomy program. A member of Slow Food, Erik sees food as a way to communicate and connect with local people. Erik has lived in Australia, Denmark, New Zealand, Singapore and South Africa and speaks several languages. During his travels through dozens of countries, he encountered untold stories in the form of unique food and beverage experiences. Don’t ever let him loose in a grocery store in another country–you won’t see him for hours.
Kevin Wright

Kevin J. Wright is an intrapreneur, entrepreneur, author, speaker, consultant, and well-known authority in the tourism industry. As NTA’s Director of Growth Markets, Kevin provides corporate entrepreneurial development of member markets including faith-based, family, adventure/active, culinary, agritourism and student travel among others.  Kevin created the faith-based travel brand at Globus and founded the World Religious Travel Association, a pioneering organization that opened an industry-wide market. Kevin has traveled to 30+ countries, performed USAID contract work, and spoken at major tourism events throughout North America and around the world.  Kevin has been interviewed by CBS Early Show, TIME Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, National Geographic, NPR, Arabian Business and dozens of other media. He has authored four travel guidebooks and written dozens of articles for trade and consumer publications including USA TODAY.  Kevin is an Industry Board Member for the International Journal of Religious Tourism and Pilgrimage.

Register for Travel and Tourism Marketing Association Event in Los Angeles on Dec 4

Clayton Whitehead, CTP, CITM
Vice President, Sports Leisure Vacations will be
speaking on behalf of NTA and discussing their
organization and upcoming convention
in Los Angeles February 16-20, 2014

NTA Convention + UMA Motorcoach EXPO | Feb. 16-20, 2014 | Los Angeles, California
  •   Why you should not miss this convention? 
  •  Find volunteer opportunities for this convention
  •  Find out what's happening at NTA and how can the
 help you promote your business
 Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Capital Grille

Terrace , 2nd floor

 8614 Beverly Blvd 
  Los Angeles , CA   90048

Complimentary valet parking on Beverly Blvd

east of San Vicente Blvd.

Networking and Registration Begins at 11:00 am
Luncheon  & Program Begins: 12:00pm - 1:30 pm

Click here to register or for more information

Thursday, November 14, 2013

NTA Opens Travel Exchange to Travel Agents

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 14, 2013) — Along with welcoming new members to Travel Exchange ’14, NTA is opening the door to another group of first-time attendees: travel agents. Agents will participate at the Los Angeles-based convention on Feb. 19 and 20, the last two days of the event.

NTA has created a roundtable networking session that allows travel agents to meet with participating tour operators and then visit with destination representatives who secure a tabletop display highlighting their destination and information from supplier partners. In addition to the Feb. 19 session, travel agents can mingle with NTA members at luncheons, education seminars and social functions.

“We opened the dialogue with members about including travel agents 10 months ago at Travel Exchange ’13 in Orlando, and board chair Mark Hoffmann has since discussed the idea during interactive webinars,” said Lisa Simon, CTP, NTA president. “Members made positive comments about this opportunity for new business, so we moved forward and created an NTA program for agent participation.”

To spread the word about the travel agent program at Travel Exchange, NTA is working with the Association of Retail Travel Agents and other agent groups. While all agents are welcome, Simon expects most who attend will come from Southern California.

NTA has relied on the expertise of members to launch the program. Suzanne Slavitter, CTP, CTIE and owner of Lakewood, Calif.-based Sports Empire, chairs the NTA Travel Agent Task Force and sees the program as a positive development both for NTA members and guests.

“Travel agents and tour operators are already great tourism partners,” Slavitter said, “and now we’ve got a place where we can strengthen those relationships while building new business together—Travel Exchange.”

Travel agents interested in attending can call or email NTA Headquarters (859.264.6540 or headquarters@NTAstaff.com) or follow this link. Travel Exchange is co-hosted by NTA and the United Motorcoach Association. The combined appointment and trade show takes place at the Los Angeles Convention Center Feb. 16–20.

Six Travel Trends to Watch in 2014 & Beyond (by Robin Amster/Travel Market Report)

Link to Travel Market Report article by Robin Amster:

From the distinct travel preferences of millennials to the growth of “creative tourism,” the travel industry is witnessing a series of powerful trends with real staying power.

Travel agents – along with suppliers, destinations and marketers – would be wise to take note, as the trends represent both opportunities and challenges.

Resonance Consultancy president Chris Fair detailed the top trends his firm expects to shape travel in 2014 and beyond in a webinar earlier this week. The firm researches lifestyle and tourism trends and formulates branding and development strategies for destinations.

Among its leading travel trends are:

Trend #1. Impact of millennials
Millennials – 18- to 30-year-olds – are of “obvious and growing importance” to the travel industry, said Fair. They also have distinct characteristics.

“Millennials are a much more ethnically diverse group than other generations and so are more interested in international travel,” he said.

Other characteristics of millennials:
•    They’re more interested in urban than resort destinations.
•    They’re more likely to travel in pursuit of favorite interests or activities.
•    They’re more likely to travel with friends in organized groups.

Trend #2. Seniors are unstoppable
What Fair called the “unstoppable elders” are estimated to comprise 1.3 billion to 1.6 billion people worldwide.

Customer service is crucial to this group, and they “show higher levels of frustration that result in zero tolerance for poor service,” he added.

“Seniors are not only the world’s wealthiest group, they are also the most demanding of travelers,” said Fair.

This group travels primarily for rest and relaxation on either short- or long-stay trips, and they favor quieter, less congested destinations, according to Fair.

Trend #3. Rise of conspicuous leisure
Another key trend is what Fair called “conspicuous leisure,” which he defined as “the signaling of social status through consumption of experience rather than through consumer goods.”

“Unique experiences, and not just for the affluent, are social currency,” he said. The preponderance of social media – and with it the widespread sharing of vacation photos with friends, families and colleagues – has fostered the trend.

Fair said the top five goods and experiences desired by the affluent are:
•    owning a smartphone
•    owning a vacation home
•    having the freedom to work from home
•    taking vacations to exotic destinations
•    taking extended time off from work

Trend #4. Growth of ‘creative tourism’
Creative tourism is travel “directed toward an engaged and authentic experience,” said Fair. “It’s travel that provides a connection with those who reside in the destination.”

The creative tourist differs from a cultural tourist in that he or she is active and interacts with the locals.

Trend #5. Strength of luxury travel
Luxury travel continues to be a robust segment of the industry.

“There are millions of millionaires,” and the number of affluent U.S. households is projected to increase from 10.5 million in 2012 to 20.5 million in 2020, he said.

“For all the chat about China, it’s still projected that the U.S., Japan and Europe visitors will dominate the luxury travel space until 2020,” Fair said.

Trend #6. More multigenerational travel
Another trend with reliable staying power is multigenerational travel, Fair said.

“The older the boomers get, the more family travel they’re doing,” he said. “A lot of that travel is planned around milestone events.”

This market is about “trading memories, convenience and value,” he said.

On the supply side, destinations have lagged when it comes to providing services and amenities that appeal both to 6- and 66-year-olds, but some cruise lines have taken a leadership position in catering to the multigenerational travel market, according to Fair.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

NTA Adds Faith Travel Pavilion at Travel Exchange

New this year at Travel Exchange is the Faith Travel Pavilion, an exhibit area situated next to the popular Canadian Cyber Center. Here you'll find greatIsraelBoothTE13 information about faith travel. Tour operators can interact with key players in the faith travel industry exhibiting in this area, such as the Israel Ministry of Tourism and Meander Travel.

If you're interested in sponsoring and having a booth in the Faith Travel Pavilion, please email Karla DiNardo or call +1.859.264.6556 for more information. To view a complete list of available sponsorships and benefits or to advertise in an official Travel Exchange publication, click here.  

And if you'd like to get more involved in the faith-based travel market, you'll want to attend a targeted education seminar at Travel Exchange: Increasing Faith-based Travel Profits through Special Events.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Register for Intrapreneurship Conference in Barcelona, Spain (Dec 11-13, 2013)


Whether you're a tourism organization looking to groom intrapreneurs within your organization, or whether you are an intrapreneur yourself or an aspiring intrapreneur......I definitely recommend checking out and consider attending the upcoming Intrapreneurship Conference in Barcelona, Spain.  Here are details....

Intrapreneurship Conference
Website http://www.intrapreneurshipconference.com
Where? Barcelona, Spain
When? Dec. 11-13, 2013

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Incentive rewards: Keep an eye on experiential/adventure travel (by Barbara Scofidio/MeetingsNet)

Article title: 5 Takeaways From the 2013 Incentive Federation Survey

Article link: http://meetingsnet.com/merchandisegift-cards/5-takeaways-2013-incentive-federation-survey

Authored by: Barbara Scofidio

5 Takeaways From the 2013 Incentive Federation Survey

Even in economically challenged times, companies continue to use non-cash incentive awards—both travel and merchandise/gift cards—for sales and non-sales employees.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

China Travel Directory: List of Approved Tour Operators

To view the directory of NTA's approved tour operators for China-inbound to USA, click here:


Paul Larsen, President of Ed-Ventures, on the Faith-based Travel Market

Paul Larsen, president of Rochester, Minnesota-based Ed-Ventures and chair of NTA's Faith Tourism Advisory Council, recently helped lead an NTA webinar on faith-based travel.

In a conversation with NTA HQ, he gives his assessment of the faith-travel market from his company's perspective.

"The economic downturn in 2008 and 2009 had a dramatic effect for us, but there are signs the economy is coming back. From 2011 to 2012 and from 2012 to 2013, we saw approximately 20 percent growth a year in revenues. That can largely be attributed to groups that travel with a purpose- those on a faith-based journey and those travelling on family heritage tours."

Larsen added that group sizes have been down, with the exception of pilgrimages or major events. He sees one coming up next year in Europe: "I think the canonization of the two popes in Rome is going to be big."

To hear more from Larsen and other specialists in this market, follow this link to NTA's website and replay the Oct. 16 webinar.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Religious Tourism: Pennies from Heaven (The Economist)

Pilgrimages are a big business—and getting bigger

Article link:

“The person who sees their holiday as a cultural experience will be put off by bad security, but the believer will not,” says Kevin Wright, an observer of new tourist markets.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Wellness Travel: 10 Trends for 2014 and Beyond (by Anne Dimon/Travel Market Report)

Author: Anne Dimon
Published by: Travel market Report
Article link: http://www.travelmarketreport.com/content/publiccontent.aspx?pageid=1370&articleid=9043

This is the latest in an occasional column by the publisher and editor-in-chief of Travel to Wellness.

No surprise to those of us in the industry, wellness travel is poised for great growth.

Already a multibillion-dollar industry, the wellness travel sector will see a significant surge in coming years for several reasons:

•    Aging baby boomers are looking to extend their years of good health.
•    More people are realizing that the key to good health and longevity lies in their own hands.
•    There is more wellness product available in all price categories.
•    Globalization is opening the doors to wellness lifestyle philosophies.

As ever-increasing numbers of us adopt a wellness lifestyle, travel agents can expect to see more clients who want to incorporate wellness into their trip planning. They want to maintain their healthy lifestyles, including food and fitness, while traveling, whether for business or pleasure.

Others who have begun looking at their vacation time through a different lens are looking for a wellness vacation. Often traveling with a specific intention – such as losing weight, getting fit, managing stress, reconnecting with self or a significant other, communing with nature – they want a vacation that’s designed to maintain, promote or kick-start a healthy way of living.

Here are 10 wellness travel trends and predictions for 2014 and beyond.

1.    More people in all fields will recognize the value of the wellness vacation, including what it can mean for one’s overall health and sense of wellbeing and how it fits into disease prevention.

2.    People will begin to schedule wellness vacations annually, for the betterment of body, mind and soul. Just as we visit the dentist every six months, we'll take a yearly wellness vacation.

3.    Since food is the foundation of wellness, culinary vacation options will grow in tandem with the movement to eat more healthfully.

4.    Forward-thinking corporations will include wellness vacations as part of wellness-in-the-workplace employee benefit packages. Some businesses will offer wellness vacations as an incentive to motivate individuals and teams to reach performance goals.

5.    While many hotels already offer elements of a wellness lifestyle – i.e. food, fitness, spa treatments, sleep programs – we will see major hotel brands adopt a fully-integrated approach with wellness-themed hotel brands. One example: IHG’s Even Hotels, which launches in 2014.

6.    For patients with certain conditions – weight gain, insomnia, eating disorders, depression and loneliness, for instance – doctors will begin prescribing specifically-designed and accredited health and wellness vacation packages before calling on “big pharmacy.” 

7.    There will be more, more and more wellness travel product available. Along with programs at destination spas and spa resorts, we’ll see a greater number of small companies and sole proprietors offering yoga/meditation getaways, healthy cooking classes and nourish-your-soul retreats.

8.    While the spa has long been a central focus of a wellness lifestyle, more spa marketing organizations will embrace and promote other aspects of a wellness lifestyle – fitness, food, sleep, community and wellness for the planet, for instance. 

9.    Taking a cue from Europe, the North American hospitality industry will see an emerging category where luxury-meets- wellness-spa-meets-sophisticated-medical-clinic. One prototype is the award-winning SHAWellness in Spain.

10.    Spas and anti-aging clinics will supplement existing menus with cutting-edge medi-treatments. How does this fit under the banner of wellness travel? Feeling good about the way we look increases our sense of wellbeing. Also, some of these new medical innovations will only be available in other countries.

The best news for travel agents? The wellness vacation is more bespoke than off-the-rack, so clients will be inclined to seek your assistance with trip planning.

Anne Dimon is founder and editor of Travel to Wellness Magazine. Published online for nine years, the magazine is launching a print/digital edition in mid-November; click here to subscribe.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Greece is also a destination for faith travelers (by Ruth Hill/Faith Travel Focus)

The sunny islands of Greece aren’t just for seaside relaxation, taverna dining, boating and sunbathing. Greece is also a destination for faith travelers.

The post Going Greek in 2014 Greece appeared first on Faith Travel Focus.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Register for NTA Townhalls in California (Oct 23, 24, 25)

Please Join Me for One, Two, Three (or Four!) NTA Town Hall Tours!
Why not quadruple the fun? Next week, NTA's Town Hall Tour is heading to not one, not two, not three, but four cities in California: San Diego, Los Angeles, Palm Springs and San Francisco!
Join me, Mark Hoffmann, NTA's chairman and CEO, to discuss topics that are high on your priority list. These Town Hall Tours are where the best in the travel industry (that’s you!) come together to connect with one another to share your market, your successes, your challenges and your ideas.
I'd love for you to be there! Here are the details for each Town Hall:
Wednesday, Oct. 23: San Diego, California
Our friends from Holiday Inn San Diego Bayside will be hosting this breakfast! Immediately following the program, the hotel will provide a quick site inspection to any attendee that might be interested.
Date: Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Time: 8:30 a.m. check-in opens; 9–10:30 a.m. breakfast and program
Where:  Holiday Inn San Diego Bayside
                4875 North Harbor Drive
                San Diego, CA 92106
Thursday, Oct. 24: Los Angeles, California
Join your colleagues in Los Angeles for a breakfast hosted by the GRAMMY Museum at L.A. LIVE! Directly following the program, attendees will have the opportunity to walk through the museum.
Date: Thursday, October 24, 2013
Time: 8:30 a.m. check-in; 9–10:30 a.m. breakfast and program
Where: GRAMMY Museum at L.A. LIVE
               800 W. Olympic Blvd., Ste. A245
               Los Angeles, CA 90015
Thursday, Oct. 24: Palm Springs, California
Our friends from The Hyatt Palm Springs will be hosting a Happy Hour!
Date: Thursday, October 24, 2013
Time: 4:30 check-in; 5–7 p.m. Happy Hour and program
Where: Hyatt Palm Springs
              285 No Palm Canyon Drive
              Palm Springs, CA 92262
Friday, Oct. 25: San Francisco, California
Join your colleagues in San Francisco for an afternoon snack buffet hosted by Neptune's Waterfront Grill & Bar!
Date: Thursday, October 25, 2013
Time: 2:30 p.m. check-in opens;
           3–5 p.m. afternoon snack buffet and program
Where: Neptune's Waterfront Grill & Bar
               PIER 39 – 2nd Level (at the end of the Pier by Sea Lions)
               Beach & Embarcadero Streets
               San Francisco, CA 94133
To attend any (or all!) of these NTA Town Hall Tours, please RSVP to NTA Headquarters by e-mail. In your email, please indicate which Town Hall Tour(s) you plan to attend.
See you soon!
Mark Hoffmann, CTP
2013 NTA Chairman and CEO
Connect with us:
NTA (National Tour Association) is the leading association for professionals serving travelers to, from and within North America. NTA members represent more travel product and have access to more business-to-business networking than in any other association in the industry. That includes product in every U.S. state, Canadian province and more than 40 countries. For more information on NTA, visit www.NTAonline.com.