For Travel Alliance Partners (TAP), 2018 is a year of transition. The cooperative organization of tour operators has begun working with a new management company and is searching for a new executive director.
Longtime executive director Stefanie Gorder and the nationally known travel company have agreed to an amicable parting over the coming months, and the Rochester, New York-based hybrid marketing firm Break the Ice has been hired to begin day-to-day management activities for the company in the months ahead.
The first order of business for Break the Ice is overseeing a search for a new executive director to replace Gorder, and that process is underway.
“Our goal is to keep building on our track record, because we’ve had great success over the past decade with Stefanie at the helm,” said TAP president Nick Calderazzo during the company’s annual TAP Dance gathering held June 4-7 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. “We want to refine our programs, maybe redesign our websites and create a greater awareness of who we are and what we offer. That’s what our new management group Break the Ice is known for, and we want them to help us get to the next level of national brand awareness for all the great travel products we’re offering.
“If everything goes well, we hope to have identified and hired an executive director by August,” said Calderazzo. “Break the Ice is handling the search and will bring us final candidates for our board to consider. The board will make the final decision on who that person will be.”
Nearly three dozen destination pods, each comprising four to six industry representatives, met with the 28 tour operator owners of TAP in Atlantic City over three days of meetings. This innovative appointment configuration allows tour companies to consider cities or regions as a whole during 25-minute discussions that are not as restrictive as the short appointments at many other tourism conferences.
“TAP Dance was created to give all of us more time with key suppliers than we can get at other major industry shows,” said Calderazzo. “We can drill down a lot more with these small groups of suppliers in a 25-minute appointment and be a lot more creative. These meetings really are more conducive to creating new product instead of just being able to start the conversation.”
When the TAP Dance delegates weren’t in business meetings, they were enjoying social events like a night of carnival rides and games at Steel Pier, compliments of Meet AC and its partners. Delegates ate corn dogs, sausages, potato salad and other summertime foods and enjoyed iconic midway rides ranging from a giant Ferris wheel to roller coasters. Following the appointments at week’s end, TAP invited all attendees to a day on the beach at the Landshark Bar and Grill’s private beach area.
Karen Pryor of Eureka Springs CAPC was named the 2018 Spirit of TAP Award winner at a luncheon held during the event for her years of service to the organization, and The Group Travel Leader Inc. continued its long sponsorship of the daytime hospitality suite, providing refreshments and relaxation for attendees between appointments.
Calderazzo gives the TAP business concept a lot of credit for helping his Twin Travel Concepts business grow over the years.
“Becoming a partner in TAP has allowed my company to grow beyond anything I could have done on my own,” he said. “This group of tour operators creates a comfort level for all of us to try new things and create new programs. Knowing you have each other to depend on and consult with creates that level of confidence. It’s quite a success story.”