LEXINGTON, Kentucky – NTA will host two Destination Leaders Forums on January 23 in Orlando, Florida, where chief executives of destination marketing organizations will discuss the challenges they have faced during a struggling global economy, its effect on packaged travel, and what solutions lie ahead.
“DMO budgets have been reduced – and sometimes eliminated – as governments cut back during the economic downturn,” said Lisa Simon, NTA President, “So our questions are: what strategies have organizations used – and how can we work together to ensure a robust packaged-travel industry? That’s what will result from this thought-leader discussion.”
The Destination Leaders Forums is comprised of two sessions at the Orange County Convention Center during Travel Exchange ( http://businessbuilder.ntaonline.com/convention/Home.aspx ), the convention and trade show for NTA and the United Motorcoach Association. A morning session includes state and provincial leaders from North America, and an afternoon session brings together leaders of national tourism organizations. In both sessions, participants will uncover shared obstacles and develop workable solutions.
Working with NTA to organize the event is Todd Davidson, CEO of Travel Oregon and Chairman of the US Travel and Tourism Advisory Board. He said that now, amid signs of strengthening economies, is the time for DMOs to collaborate.
“We have collectively weathered a global recession, but nowhere is the adage, ‘The whole is greater than the sum of the parts,’ more true than in the travel and tourism industry,” Davidson said, “Coming together to explore, evaluate, and envision where we’ve been and where we’re heading will give the industry a more complete picture to launch new strategies from.”
To help form that picture, each participant will submit, prior to the forums, a description of its organization and its challenges, plus a projection for the year ahead. When they gather in Orlando, the DMO leaders will share the tactics and innovations they have used to market their destination and attract groups despite budget cuts. Both sessions will be moderated by Helen Marano, Vice President of government and industry affairs for the World Travel and Tourism Council.
“After our face-to-face forums, NTA will release our findings in a white paper,” said Simon, “We’ll also use this information to educate our members and enhance packaged travel.”
The 90-minute sessions begin at 9:00 am (US, Mexico, and Canada states and provinces) and 2:30 pm (national offices). NTA issued invitations to chief executives of all US states, Canadian provinces, Mexican states, and national tourism offices.
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Founded in 1951, NTA ( http://www.ntaonline.com/articles/index.cfm?action=view&articleID=2536§ionID=31 ) is the leading business-building association for travel professionals (from more than 40 countries) interested in the North American market – inbound, outbound, and within the continent. Travel Exchange runs from January 20 through 24.
PHOTO: In challenging economic times, destination marketing organizations make the most from limited budgets. Many DMOS, such as Travel Oregon, pictured at last year’s NTA convention, participate in trade shows that give them maximum exposure to tour operators. / Photo from ntaonline.com