By Shebby Lee
Group travel suppliers: Are you interested in increasing your business? Would you like to attend a travel show that guarantees a 25-minute meeting in which every single tour operator in attendance is the owner and/or or prime decision-maker?
If so, then TAP Dance—the travel show created a dozen years ago by ABA member Travel Alliance Partners (TAP)—is for you!
TAP Dance is an exclusive, invitation-only event at which you have 24/7 access to tour operators, eat every meal with them (meals double as appointments), and have a half-day of relaxation and mingling set aside to enjoy a surprise gift from the tour operators.
At TAP Dance, everyone is regarded as a partner (as in, we’re all in this together) and meetings are conducted in a private, casual setting.
There are many reasons the Travel Alliance partnership came about. In the 15 years since TAP was launched, those reasons still exist. However, the company (TAP is a business wholly owned by its partners, and not an association) has found many more avenues that allow it to grow and fill a need in the group travel industry.
In the beginning, TAP founder Serge Talbot (ABA member Talbot Tours of San Jose, Calif.) recognized that it was getting harder and harder to fill a coach for any given departure, and he decided to do something about it. He saw that by combining resources with other trusted tour operators, he could not only fill those buses, but save on administrative costs as well.
Nobody knew what this entity might turn into, but they all knew what they didn’t want: rising costs and lower revenues.
Soon the partners were buying and selling from each other, negotiating volume rates with travel providers, and found themselves in a position to provide actual financial statistics. Each partner is required to submit yearly TravelMetrics™, which are compiled and then made available to select guild members to track their ROI. Actually, there are many ways for suppliers and DMOs—known in TAPWorld as PPTPs (Preferred Professional Travel Providers)—to participate.
Probably the least anticipated move was the introduction of TAP Dance—the company’s own version of a travel conference. Like the other innovations that TAP has brought to the industry, this event is one of a kind. The first TAP Dance was staged in Little Rock, Ark., in 2005.
The unique event structure and de-emphasis on categories exemplifies TAP’s slogan: The Power of Partnership. The travel industry has taken notice and even adapted some of these innovations for their own use. The result is a stronger and more vibrant industry where competition is gradually giving way to cooperation, to the benefit of all of us.
For more information on upcoming TAP events and how you can become involved with TAP, contact:
Travel Alliance Partners
Historian and writer Shebby Lee owns Shebby Lee Tours Inc. of Rapid City, S.D. Her tours focus on the history and cultural heritage of the West. To contact Lee, visit www.shebbyleetours.com.