Members of the National Tour Association gathered in person in Memphis for Contact ’21, NTA’s annual spring conference, May 5–8.
Contact is a business-building conference conducted in a retreat setting, allowing tour operators and travel advisors to share ideas and solutions and to get ideas for their itineraries and product from representatives of destinations and tour suppliers who attend as event sponsors. While the event is well-established, the ability to get together again is a breath of fresh air.
“It’s been 17 months—December 2019—since we’ve held an in-person event,” said NTA Chair Chase Poffenberger.
“And for travel professionals who thrive on face-to-face conversations, this event is just what the doctor ordered.”
To keep attendees safe, NTA required proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test and is taking a series of additional steps: requiring masks indoors, utilizing outdoor venues, increasing spaced seating, and following the latest food-service guidelines.
Education at the conference, held at The Guest House at Graceland, includes a heavy focus on issues and opportunities related to restarting travel, and other sessions that range from marketing strategies to engaging multicultural audiences. Joining the in-person audience in every seminar are virtual participants, members who could not travel to Memphis for the conference and are livestreaming the sessions.
Those who are here, though, can also enjoy the city. NTA and Memphis Tourism have organized a series of sightseeing trips, educational outings, and networking events held at local attractions. And attendees are also enjoying being together to look past the pandemic.
“NTA members never lost touch with each other, connecting on Zoom calls and webinars, but there’s a palpable difference now,” said Catherine Prather, NTA president.
“Our members are optimistic because their business is coming back. Phones are ringing, motorcoaches are rolling, and travelers are booking tours.”