Lisa Simon, president of NTA (formerly the National Tour Association) until she left the post at the end of 2013 after 28 years with the organization, has been named interim executive director of the Receptive Services Association of America (RSAA). The action came just after Jane Rossmango, a well-known former receptive tour operator who came out of retirement two months ago to take the job, decided to leave due to unforeseen circumstances. Both NTA and RSSA are based in Lexington, Ky.
RSAA’s opportunity and challenge is to find one or two common issues that will unify a group of entrepreneurial companies run mostly by expats who are wary of anything to do with their competitors. The two common areas that, potentially, may be of interest to most receptive tour operators (RTOs) are:
- Any movement by state or city regulatory agents to lump them in with retail online travel agencies (OTAs) such as Expedia and Booking.com that are being pressured to pay taxes on the differential between their product’s cost and what they sell it for.
- The employment status of escorted tour guides. Currently, several of the larger national RTOs employ a business model that treats tour guides as seasonal staff employees who have their taxes withheld and medical benefits provided during the period they work—creating a higher cost structure. Other RTOs, meanwhile, believe tour guides and escorts are contractors who are responsible for their own benefits and taxes, but are allowed to earn additional revenue by selling optional attractions and activities. As it stands today, the former would like clarity as to who is eligible for contractor status, while the latter would like to stay under the radar.