FAM IV: Buoyed by the by the success of the first three iterations of the undertaking, Brand USA is planning MegaFam 2016—a multi-destination familiarization tour for 100 travel agents from the UK and Ireland—that will focus on the United States’ outdoors, especially its national parks, and incorporate new states into the itinerary.
The 2016 trip, scheduled for May 11-19, continues the practice of going “Beyond the Gateways,” involving seven different itineraries, featuring 18 states, including Alaska and Hawaii for the first time. Coinciding with the U.S. National Park Service’s centennial celebration this year, each itinerary will have the travel agents experience the USA’s great outdoors has to offer by visiting a national park.
The new 2016 itineraries are: Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, Delaware, Maryland/Florida, Georgia, South Carolina/Colorado, New Mexico/Nevada, Utah, Arizona/Washington, Oregon/Alaska/ and Hawaii.
The participating agents will return to California for a final event, where they can share their experiences, educate each other on their itineraries and better sell all the destinations when returning home.
Agents vie for a spot on the trip by booking flights to the United States with BUSA’s partners, American Airlines and British Airways, and earning specialist badges on the agent-training program, USADiscoveryProgram.co.uk. The training program educates and supplies travel agents with the knowledge and assurance they need in order to sell more of the USA as a holiday destination, and to ensure the United States is kept at top of the mind—with both agents and their customers.
According to the agency, in 2014, agents vying for a MegaFam spot booked over 12,000 flights to and within the USA, up from the previous year’s 5,500 flights. In 2015, that number increased to 22,000 passengers booking travel during the entry period of January to early April.
Second Film to Star Much of United States: The Brand USA giant screen film, “National Parks Adventure” launches worldwide next month (Feb. 12) but the pre-opening reaction to trailers and extended trailers from those who have seen them has been so enthusiastic—especially from the theatre owners who saw a version at last September’s annual conference of the Giant Screen Theatre Association—and advance sales have been so robust, that Brand USA has already approved a second big screen film that will premiere in two years.
“The Next Big Film,” as it was referred to in materials made available at BUSA’s last board of directors meeting, will be titled “America’s Treasures,” which will be “a cross-country and cosmopolitan journeys through the USA, focusing on popular culture, music, entertainment, and innovation.” One reason the board took the action was to be able to retain the services of MacGillivray Freeman, the Laguna Beach, Calif.-based producer of “National Parks Adventure.” The company has created a string of award-winning big screen hits going back to “To Fly”—the IMAX film that played to full house audiences for years during the mid-1970s at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
Because the producer’s own calendar has upcoming long-term commitments, the board wanted to begin negotiations with the film company as soon as possible, in order to ensure a February 2018 launch of the new film.
Financially, the film is a win-win for Brand USA, which put up no cash for the effort—it is being presented by Expedia, Inc. and Subaru of America, Inc. and is supported by other contributions—but will generate millions of lasting impressions worldwide. Timed to coincide with the centennial of the U.S. National Parks in 2016, the film is expected to generate more han 4 million movie-goers by the end of 2018 and, according BUSA estimates, more than $42 million in international media reach value.