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Group Travel 101 — Resources for Travel Planners

If you’ve made it this far in our Group Travel 101 series, you’ve learned the basics of how to recruit a group, plan trips and work with experts to get them going. As you progress, you may find some events organizations and publications helpful.
Travel Conferences

A number of travel conferences take place annually, each focused on a specific segment of the tourism industry. Attending these conferences gives you the opportunity to discover new destination ideas, attend educational seminars and network with other travel planners.The Group Travel Family hosts a series of annual conferences designed specifically for group leaders. BankTravel is a large event that attracts travel planners that work for bank loyalty programs around the country. Going On Faith Conference is geared toward church group and other religious travel planners. African American Travel Conference highlights destinations of interest to planners coordinating travel for African American groups.The newest conference in the family is called Boomers in Groups. This event is designed to educate leaders who are planning trips for the next generation of group travelers — baby boomers.Group Travel Family also organizes a series of local and regional events called Group Leaders of America Chapter Meetings. Dozens of these events take place around the country each year, giving group leaders a half-day occasion to meet with travel sellers from around the country without leaving their hometowns.

Professional Associations

Group tourism is a large and thriving industry, and a number of professional organizations have been created to serve the needs of the industry as a whole. These organizations play numerous roles: They offer professional certification programs; act as government liaisons and advocates; provide membership listings of worldwide travel providers; and often stage large annual conventions to facilitate business development.The American Bus Association (ABA) is a professional organization of motorcoach owners and operators, many of whom also operate tours. NTA (formerly known as the National Tour Association) is an organization of hundreds of tour operators in North America, and the tourism destinations and suppliers that serve them. The United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) a consortium of some of the world’s largest tour operators and cruise lines, is noted for it’s $1 million customer protection program. The Student and Youth Travel Association focuses on the interest of tour operators and destinations that specialize in student, youth and performance tours.

Industry Publications
A number of high-quality tourism industry publications give group leaders news, travel ideas and insider’s advice on a monthly or semi-monthly basis. Subscriptions to these publications are available free of charge to qualified group leaders, and they are all available online with additional Web-only content.

The Group Travel Leader is the industry’s leading tourism publication, charting the evolution of the group travel industry. This monthly magazine contains industry news, columnists, destination features and round-up stories designed to inspire new travel ideas for group leaders.

Bank Travel Management focuses on the niche of bank loyalty program travel. Bankers across the country read this magazine for advice on marketing their tours, handling special travel circumstances and reaching out to baby boomers. Each issue of the magazine also has beautiful travel features on trips to domestic and international destinations.

Going On Faith is America’s only magazine for faith-based travel planners. In addition to domestic and international travel features, the magazine contains profiles of leaders in church group travel, as well as spotlights on mission travel organizations and “how-to” articles designed to give church travel planners tools to create more successful trips.

Brian Jewell

Brian Jewell is the executive editor of The Group Travel Leader. In more than a decade of travel journalism he has visited 48 states and 25 foreign countries.