The Berkshires Blog

NTA Travel Exchange

BVB Communications Associate, Michelle Murphy represented the BVB at the annual National Tour Association‘s Travel Exchange, held this year in New Orleans.

During the convention, the BVB conducted 42 separate appointments with tour operators, each lasting 10 minutes. Each appointment was jam packed with information about our region and our members. How to cover so much in so little time? Michelle was well equipped with a great list of What is New, a useful Berkshire Group Tour one sheeter and copies of the Berkshire Visitors Guide AND flash drives pre-loaded with info, including one-sheeters submitted by member businesses. In addition, Michelle took part in workshops and networking sessions that helped her learn more about the Group Tour industry and get the word out about the Berkshires in more casual settings.

What Michelle had to say about her experience:

I was thrilled to represent the Berkshires at NTA, said Murphy it was an opportunity to showcase our beautiful region. I gave it my all and came out with some very nice leads!

Last week at this time I was at NTA (the National Tour Association). Now, really, I wasn’t just at NTA. I was injected into the amazing cosmos of 2,500 businesses, representatives, regions, and sales persons. I shook hands with many and met the new President. I was constantly in motion and collapsed into my hotel duvet every evening. This year NTA was held in New Orleans at the fifth largest convention center in America. The space was gigantic and took several minutes to traverse. The Starbucks lines were immense and the bathroom lines even longer.

After a day travelling to New Orleans and an afternoon of participating in a complimentary guided tour of the garden district, NOMA (New Orleans Museum of Art), and the Longue Vue House and Gardens, provided generously by New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Louisiana Office of Tourism, I registered at the check-in desk inside the convention center. I was taking all my materials back to my hotel, and planning on sifting through them and getting myself organized for my first rounds of appointments the next day when I saw a familiar face! Nick Calderazzo, Owner of Twin Travel Concepts was attending NTA and was a welcome site amongst the seas of unfamiliar faces. Later on I would see another familiar face from the Berkshires, Brian Butterworth of Main Street Hospitality Group. He is an NTA regular who writes in the Courier, the official magazine of NTA. He is truly a valuable resource to be connected to in such unfamiliar territory of a huge convention as a first-timer. Later that same evening, I met Megan Cokely, the Group Sales Coordinator for the Boston Symphony Orchestra. She is lovely and vibrant and ready to take on her new position with the Orchestra.

Business was constantly being done around me and by me: at lunch, at events, at seminars, and most importantly at the prescheduled appointments. The Berkshire Visitors Bureau was a booth among many and for two days I had 42 10-minute prescheduled appointments with Group Tour Operator companies with interest in selling group tours to visit the Berkshires. Each Group Tour Operator had varying degrees of knowledge of the Berkshires. Some had never heard of it. Some knew of it. Some had vacationed here. Some had lived here. I had to tailor each conversation with each appointment appropriately depending on their customer’s ages and interests as well as their company’s wishlist and wants. Each conversation was unique unto itself. The Operators took home a USB of pre-loaded “one-sheeters”* and a list of What’s New in 2015.

I was thrilled to represent the Berkshires at the NTA convention. It is an opportunity to showcase our beautiful region and an experience that is unparalleled to anything else. NTA is a brotherhood, it’s a family, and I was welcomed as a first-timer immediately. I gave it my all and came out with some very nice leads for our region!

*What’s a “one-sheeter”? This is an important detail to cover. One-sheeters are the take-away face of your business. After the 10-minute blaze of conversation the Group Tour Operator have with me, the Destination Marketing Organization, the one-sheeters are what’s left after the smoke clears. The one-sheeters are colorful, thoughtful, and contain pertinent information for group tour only. (Remember, groups can be anywhere from 15-45 people. They can be anywhere from youth to elderly.) They include information on package discounts, a snipped about your business, and always need at least one colorful photo and the right contact information.