The Group Travel Leader
Published March 13, 2013
Photo courtesy Travel Exchange
America’s diverse and growing population is ushering new groups of travelers into the tourism market, giving travel companies opportunities to grow their business by catering to the needs of those groups. Three Travel Exchange sessions focused on emerging markets, highlighting Hispanic travel, faith-based travel and the importance of young professionals in today’s tourism industry.
Hispanic Travel Caucus
Nearly 80 delegates gathered for the Hispanics in Travel Caucus at Travel Exchange. This was the second in a series of such caucuses that NTA is holding in partnership with the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA).
The caucus featured a presentation by Jorge Plasencia, chairman and CEO of Republica (a cross-cultural advertising agency) and chair of the National Council of La Raza. Plasencia emphasized the purchasing power of the Hispanic population in the United States, saying that Hispanics represent $56.4 billion in annual leisure travel spending. He also talked about the importance of reaching Hispanic travelers with culturally significant messages.
“If you speak in a culturally relevant way, it will pay off,” he said. “Our buying power is astronomical and continues to grow every day.”
Plasencia also highlighted the importance of group dynamics in the Hispanic travel market, saying that travel is usually done with other family members.
“We travel in groups and travel as a family,” he said. “This is important — 31 percent of Hispanic travelers have four or more travelers in their party versus 25 percent in the general population. Those vacations are about creating life-long memories for our families and not just escaping stress.”
Faith-Based Travel Forum
Some 100 tour operators, destination and attraction representatives attended the Faith Leader’s Forum on the opening day of the NTA convention. This forum was the second of its kind held by NTA, following a similar event at the 2011 convention in Las Vegas, and included a diverse group of delegates representing both domestic and international travel companies.
The session was led by Paul Larsen, president of faith-based tour operator Ed-Ventures. Larsen asked attendees to divide into small groups and discuss the needs of the faith-based travel market and to come up with ideas about how NTA could help its members grow in this area. After a half-hour of brainstorming, each small group shared their ideas with the rest of the forum.
Almost all of the groups suggested the creation of an online platform where companies involved in faith-based travel could connect and do business with each other. Additionally, they talked about the need for education about religious travel, information on volunteering trips and networking events to help establish and build relationships among faith travel leaders.
Young Professionals Events
Five young professionals led a forum opening conversation with other young professionals in the tourism industry at the NTA Young Professionals Town Hall. The leaders discussed the challenges of young professionals, the impact of social media, generational marketing, business development opportunities and creating a personal brand. The attendees at the forum broke into five groups to provide their thoughts about the various topics.
The United Motorcoach Association also has a Young Guns group, which met to discuss ideas and issues in the motorcoach industry and to network and build relationships that will help young bus operators succeed in the future.