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Oklahoma City Hosts TAP Dance 2015

Oklahoma governor Mary Fallin was on hand to welcome nearly 300 delegates to her state and to the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City during the opening dinner for Travel Alliance Partners’ TAP Dance, held June 7-11. A tourism industry veteran, Fallin recounted her early career in the industry and impressed delegates with her memories of attending events like the ABA Marketplace as a young employee. She is now serving her second term as the state’s governor.

Travel Alliance Partners (TAP) celebrated its 10th anniversary as an international travel company with 272 members and guests at TAP Dance, a sales meeting characterized by appointments between pods of seven to eight regional destinations with tour operators. The 47 TAP member tour operator delegates were joined by 212 travel industry delegates and 23 education tour delegates who buy tour products from the company.

“Not only did Governor Fallin come over to greet us at our dinner that evening, but Lieutenant Governor Todd Lamb came over later in the week and spoke to us at lunch,” said Stefanie Gorder, executive director for the organization. “Those two appearances were indicative of the time and energy that Todd Stallbaumer, with the Oklahoma Tourism Department, and Sandy Price, with the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau, put into hosting this meeting. This was the best-organized TAP Dance we’ve ever had.”

The CEOs of two major travel industry associations addressed the delegates over the four days at meals their organizations sponsored. Pam Inman, president of NTA, hosted a breakfast on June 8, and Peter Pantuso, president of the American Bus Association, hosted lunch the following day.

“We appreciate the support of these major industry organizations for our efforts, and we really appreciate the support we receive from The Group Travel Leader as well,” said Gorder. “The hospitality suite you all manage for us is a great place for our industry delegates to relax between appointments.”

The Oklahoma host organizations took delegates to the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum for a tour of the facility and a barbecue dinner highlighted by the governor’s appearance and a performance by the Swon Brothers, recording artists from the state. Afterward, most delegates took an evening tour of the Oklahoma City National Memorial, built to honor those killed by the terrorist bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in 1995.

“The memorial is here in Oklahoma City, but it is America’s memorial,” said Stallbaumer. “The museum was dramatically enhanced for the 20th anniversary of the bombing and is such a moving testament to victims, first responders and survivors. It makes a beautiful case for opposing violence.”

The following afternoon, the TAP companies treated travel industry attendees to a day of zip lining, boating and paddleboarding, followed by dinner and dancing at Riversport Adventures in Oklahoma City’s Boathouse District.

At the closing luncheon, Carol Torricelli of the Virginia Tourism Corporation was given the 2015 Spirit of TAP Award for her contributions to the organization.