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NTA Convention Returning to fourth Quarter in 2016

NEW ORLEANS — After three years of holding “co-located” national conventions, NTA and the United Motorcoach Association ended their partnership at the 2015 Travel Exchange. The announcement came at an NTA business session at the convention, which took place January 18-22 in New Orleans.

According to NTA president Pam Inman, the change is due in part to NTA members’ desire to return the association’s annual convention to the end of the calendar year.

“Guided by member feedback, NTA is returning Travel Exchange to fourth-quarter dates, beginning next year,” she said. “Our tour operator members told us that when the convention was held in the fourth quarter, they could more effectively plan for the next year, and our supplier members told us it was a better time to roll out new products.”

NTA will retain the name “Travel Exchange” for its event.

Returning to the fourth quarter also helps create more space between NTA’s meeting and the American Bus Association Marketplace, another major industry event that takes place in January and involves many of the same members.

To accomplish the move, NTA will hold two Travel Exchange events in 2016. The first will take place in Atlanta as scheduled, January 31-February 4. The St. Louis Travel Exchange, which was originally scheduled for early 2017, will now take place December 11-15, 2016. Inman said that she hopes to hold Travel Exchange events in November thereafter.

UMA president and CEO Vic Parra said his association’s members, many of whom own charter bus companies, prefer to hold their meetings in January or February, when their business is slowest.

Parra also said that social and business interactions between the UMA and NTA members never reached the potential that the organizations’ leaders had hoped for when the co-location agreement was first put in place.

“I’m not so sure that we had much comingling going on,” Parra told reporters during a media briefing.

The end of the UMA partnership and the changing of the convention time frame came among other significant developments that NTA announced at the event. Members elected a new board of directors and executive committee, the makeup of which reflects the association’s continued efforts to bring international destinations and tour companies into the fold.

“We have our first international member that we’ve ever had as a chair: Jorge Cazenave of Cazenave Argentina,” Inman said. “Under Jorge’s guidance, we’re going to be doing a lot more with the Hispanic community.”

NTA reported that some 29 international countries were represented among the 1,600 delegates registered for NTA activities at Travel Exchange.

This year’s event was the first for Inman, who took the helm of NTA last summer.

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.