By Ron Blunt, courtesy National Cherry Blossom Festival
Much of the strength of TAP comes from the regional expertise of its member tour operators. Many TAP operators work in specific areas of North America and have developed in-depth knowledge of certain travel products. That expertise works out to the benefit of travelers.
“An operator based in Washington, D.C., knows the ins and outs of D.C. and the surrounding area,” Gorder said. “If you’re looking for a tour in D.C., they’re the ones you should be talking to. And in Branson, for example, our operator Kim Vance does creative things — she’ll put together pajama parties with the vocal group the Cat’s Pajamas or have bonfires with cowboys singing for your group.”
With 33 tour operator members, TAP’s regional expertise spans the globe. Group leaders will find TAP operators that specialize in New England, the American West, Canada, Europe, Africa and beyond. Some partners focus on particular methods of travel, such as cruises or recreational vehicle rallies.
The organization works to hone its regional expertise and create new products every year via TAP Dance, a conference at which all of the tour operators meet with selected travel industry representatives from around North America.
“We sit down and put together better, stronger tour packages,” Gorder said. “These are long, relational meetings where four or five people from one area are talking with a tour operator about the opportunities that could be available. It’s really outside of the box.”
Working With TAP
Many of the itineraries developed at the conference eventually work their way onto TAP’s websites, www.tappreferred.com and
www.guaranteeddepartures.com. Group leaders can find detailed information on current TAP products on each of those websites. And because the TAP partners continually update the sites with new tour offerings, a visit always provides travel buyers with the most up-to-date information on tours and departures.
For group leaders that want to learn more about the organization or sample some of its products, there’s a program called Bet on TAP.
“This is a buyer’s educational tour,” Gorder said. “We invite our best clients to come on a familiarization tour, and we teach them about the TAP network and how to get hooked on TAP. This June, we’re focusing on Washington, D.C.”
To get more information on TAP, tour products and familiarization trips, travel planners can also contact the organization’s central office by calling 866-373-0790.