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

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Luxury Market Gets Adventurous (by Robin Amster/Travel Market Report)

Article link:

Authored by Robin Amster; Published by Travel Market Report

Opening Excerpt:
Active and adventure travel emerged as the most powerful trend across all types of luxury travelers, including families, couples, honeymooners and retirees, in Virtuoso’s annual survey of its travel advisors.

The 2014 Virtuoso Luxe Report, a survey of more than 500 Virtuoso member agents, also found that clients’ regard their travel advisors as the primary influencer for their travel decisions.

Read the rest of the article at

Monday, January 20, 2014

New Faith Travel Association to Help Agents Grow Sales (by Robin Amster/Travel Market Report)

The NTA’s new Faith Travel Association (FTA) will serve as a business-building resource for travel professionals who sell faith-based travel including agents who have yet to tap this fast-growing and lucrative market

Launched this week by NTA Services, a subsidiary of the National Tour Association, the Faith Travel Association is a membership organization for tour operators, destinations, tourist offices and suppliers – as well as for individual agents, religious leaders and group leaders.

The new association will provide members with a networking venue, educational and business opportunities, consulting services, and a resource for staying up to date on market developments, said Kevin White, director of growth markets for NTA and a consultant to the new association.

Agent-focused education programs and webinars will also be on the Faith Travel Association’s agenda, along with educational programs for other travel segments. The group will also participate in faith-based travel shows.

Filling a void
White said the Faith Travel Association was created to fill a void in the travel industry. Adventure travel, culinary travel and other market segments have associations, while faith-based travel has not been represented, he said.

According to Karla DiNardo, interim director of the Faith Travel Association, the group has been in development for 16 months.

“There’s no better time than the present to establish the FTA,” said DiNardo, who is also president of NTA Services Inc. which oversees NTA’s official publications.

Stronger every year
The market for faith-based travel is robust and growing stronger every year, according to Wright.

He said more than 300 million people a year take faith-based trips internationally, contributing $18 billion to the global tourism economy.

There are about 400,000 religious communities and congregations in North America. In the U.S., some 50,000 Christian and Jewish worship centers, congregations and churches have travel programs for both youth and adults, he added.

The marketplace also includes colleges, nonprofit organizations, NGOs and authors and leaders with faith-based messages.

“When you look at the market on a global level, and even in North America, you see it’s really an industry in and of itself; a giant market,” Wright said.

Traditionally composed of pilgrimage travel and missionary travel, faith-based travel has diversified greatly, with the addition over the last 10 years of faith-based cruises, ski trips, local get-a-ways, and trips tracing customers’ heritage.

There are even some surprising variations like Catholic groups’ one-day casino trips and an annual Waves of Glory event at Orlando’s Wet ‘N Wild Water Park, which draws younger clients and families.

Focused on groups
Faith-based travel is primarily group travel, and 75% of faith-based trips consist of groups of 30 or 40 people, Wright said. “It’s a very community-driven market.”

That spells tremendous opportunities for travel agents given the profit potential of group business.

While many agents have begun to capitalize on faith-based travel, “most haven’t quite tapped into it fully,” Wright said. “Another 10 years from now that will be a different story.”

The role of agents
Ironically though, agents have helped fuel the growth in faith travel by selling faith-based travel products introduced in 2004 by the Globus Family of Brands, said Wright. As Globus’ religious travel manager at the time, Wright launched the firm’s faith-based division and products.

Globus was the first major tour operator to come out with faith-based tours, according to Wright. It was eventually followed by virtually all major tour operators and some cruise lines.

And Globus made agents a part of its distribution channel for these tours. “That led to a lot of the growth,” Wright said. “It was a turning point.”

Before Globus’ entry into the market, the sale of faith-based travel was dominated by small religious tour operators who didn’t work with agents to any great degree.

“Now that the product is available [to agents], the next step is education,” said Wright.

Pavilion at NTA
The Faith Travel Association will debut at NTA’s upcoming Travel Exchange in Los Angeles, Feb. 16 to 20, where it will host a pavilion.

“This will add a whole new element to Travel Exchange which will now have three associations: NTA, the United Motorcoach Association (UMA) [which last year combined its annual convention with NTA’s] and the FTA,” DiNardo said.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

New Association Targets Faith-Based Travel

In response to the explosive growth of the faith-based travel industry, NTA Services Inc. reports it has created the Faith Travel Association (FTA). The membership trade organization will serve as a business-building resource for travel professionals, sites and organizations focused on faith-based travel.

FTA said it will also provide connections, education and support for group leaders, religious leaders and travel agents who are planning trips for individuals or groups brought together by their faith or religious community.

“Faith-based travel is an expansive market with both domestic and international appeal,” said Karla DiNardo, NTA Services Inc. president and interim FTA executive director. “Faith-based travel includes diverse experiences such as pilgrimages, events, cruises, adventures, mission/volunteer trips and travel to destinations and attractions that hold special significance to people of various faiths. We’ve worked closely with NTA and the NTA Faith Travel Advisory Council to create an organization that will focus specifically on those involved in faith-based travel around the world,” DiNardo added.

FTA estimates each year more than 300 million people of faith embark on trips around the world, pumping $18 billion into the tourism economy. Some 50,000 churches and worship centers in the United States have travel programs for youth and adults, and FTA can facilitate connecting them with qualified travel professionals. The marketplace includes colleges, nonprofit organizations, NGOs and leaders, authors and speakers with faith-based missions or messages, FTA said.

Jordan Tourism Board has been actively involved in NTA for several years, including recently hosting a successful product development trip to Jordan,” said Malia Asfour, director of Jordan Tourism Board North America and FTA board member. “The formation of FTA provides a great additional opportunity for anyone looking to do business specifically in the faith-based travel market. The focus on faith-based travel paired with the depth and global reach of FTA will give faith-based travel buyers, suppliers and destinations a home and a voice in the industry.”

Faith Travel Association will make its debut at Travel Exchange, which will be held this year in Los Angeles, Feb. 16–20. An annual conference co-hosted by FTA partners NTA and the United Motorcoach Association, Travel Exchange will feature a faith travel pavilion on the show floor with exhibitors from Israel Ministry of Tourism, Meander Travel, Switzerland Tourism, Jordan Tourism Board, the Holy Land Incoming Tour Operator Association and others.

FTA said that in addition to the 1,100-plus tour operators and motorcoach operators attending Travel Exchange, tour operators, travel agents, group leaders, pastors and religious leaders offering faith-based travel product will be invited to preview FTA on Wednesday, Feb. 19. On Thursday afternoon, the educational session “Increasing Faith-based Travel Profits” and the Faith-based Travel Leaders Forum will be hosted by NTA.

FTA will offer education and networking opportunities to its members including the FTA website (www.faithtravelassociation.com).

In addition to hosting a pavilion at Travel Exchange, FTA will participate in several faith events in 2014, partnering with FTA members for greater industry presence.

While FTA will help its members enhance their business portfolios and increase revenues, the gains will go beyond net earnings, according to Paul Larsen, whose Minnesota-based company, Ed-Ventures Inc., has built a faith travel program.

“Faith-based tourism is a market where the first criterion in the traveler’s decision-making process is not the dollar, but the experience,” Larson said. “Part of my job in offering faith-based travel is to provide the traveler an opportunity to experience faith with others.” Larsen served as the chair of NTA’s Faith Travel Advisory Council in 2012 and 2013.

FTA will be led by an executive director and governed by the FTA board of directors: chairman Ed Dresel, Destinations Unlimited Inc.; vice chairman Mitch Sussman, Sussman Consulting; secretary Malia Asfour, Jordan Tourism Board North America; and directors Cathy Greteman, Star Destinations Inc.; and Paul Nakamoto, Gray Line of San Francisco.

Several experts in the faith-based travel industry will serve on an advisory council. Included are Edita Krunic, Select International Tours; Linville Johnson, Bahamas Ministry of Tourism; Paul Larsen, Ed-Ventures Inc.; Mirko Capodanno, Switzerland Tourism; Cindi Brodhecker, Priscilla Woman’s Tours; and Tina Abellanosa, Gaylord Opryland Hotel & Resort. Kevin Wright, NTA travel markets expert will serve as a consultant. Theresa Krieg, formerly of The Carolina Opry in Myrtle Beach, S.C., will serve as an FTA ambassador.

Visit www.faithtravelassociation.com

Germany calls faith and culture travelers for 2014 (by Ruth Hill)

Here's link to excellent article by Ruth Hill about some of the big faith-based travel events happening in Germany this year:


Thursday, January 2, 2014

If you do business in faith-based travel or are looking to enter this $18 billion market...

If you do business in faith-based travel or are looking to enter this $18 billion market, here’s why you can’t miss Travel Exchange—the one industry show that puts the full spectrum of travel buyers and sellers on the same floor.

By registering for Travel Exchange '14, Feb. 16–20, in Los Angeles, you can:

  • Participate in Wednesday’s Increasing Faith-based Travel Profits through Special Events seminar, where you’ll discover many faith-based celebrations and how to integrate them into your travel portfolio.
  • Join like-minded colleagues at Thursday’s Faith-based Travel Leaders Forum, where attendees will share market-specific strategies, insights, trends and product. Contact NTA Headquarters to RSVP.
  • Discuss entrepreneurial ideas and innovative approaches with faith-based industry experts at the Specialty Travel Markets booth on the show floor.
  • Visit the new Faith Travel Pavilion, where operators can interact with key players such as the Israel Ministry of Tourism, Holy Land Incoming Tour Operators Association, Meander Travel and others. Contact Karla DiNardo to exhibit in the pavilion.
NTA is expanding its members’ opportunities within the faith-based tourism market, and this is your chance to develop product, build partnerships and book new business! In 2013, 34 countries were represented among the show’s more than 3,600 attendees.

Click here to register and see the full schedule, and here to view a welcome from NTA Board of Directors member Justin Osbon of Image Tours.