The National Tour Association is opening its membership to travel agents, enabling them to expand their tour portfolio by partnering directly with NTA tour operators. Miami-based North Shore Travel became the first travel agency to join NTA under its new member category, Travel Planner.
"We are really excited to be with NTA and be part of a valued and reliable industry leader," said Sebastian Ohrwaschel, North Shore Travel's managing director. "The association gives us access to different resources and the opportunity to connect with innovative partners."
For the past two years, NTA has welcomed travel agents to Travel Exchange, its annual convention, for a two-day program that featured a business session, targeted education, and an introduction to the show's trade floor. Now, travel agents can attend the 2016 show in Atlanta as members, with full access to NTA colleagues, seminars, and numerous networking opportunities.
"We're eager to get travel planners into the mix at Travel Exchange," said NTA President Pam Inman. "Those new members—retail travel agents—can increase their revenue by tapping into trending tour product our operators have created, which, in turn, will give our suppliers and destinations a boost."
Travel Exchange '16 is slated for January 31 – February 4 in the Georgia World Congress Center. The hallmark of the show for travel agents has been the access to tour companies that package innovative product geared to specialty markets and niche tours.
NTA tour operators voted in May to establish the new membership category for retail travel agents at for-profit companies whose primary business is selling the tours and packages of a tour operator or third party. The vote followed two years of member-led research and discussions.
"For 64 years NTA has helped our members be successful, because we're always open to new ideas that meet the changing needs of travelers and the shifting business models within the industry. We know our operators would like to sell more tours through travel agents, and in turn, agents can increase their business by having access to more tour operator-packaged travel," Inman said. "We expect to see a gradual, steady growth of travel planner members, and we look forward to seeing them in Atlanta."
About NTA: Founded in 1951, the National Tour Association is a global organization of packaged-travel professionals serving travelers to, from and within North America. For more information, visit NTAonline.com.