In our last issue, we covered the two Salon discussions sponsored by the NAJ Group, which also publishes the Inbound Report. The two Salons were part of the annual fall Listening Tour undertaken by Jake Steinman, NAJ’s president and CEO, in which he calls on and meets with key receptive tour operators and tour and travel industry leaders in New York City, Orlando, Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles in order to get first-person accounts on conditions within the industry as well as their outlook on key international source markets for U.S. inbound tourism. Following is a sampler—a brief visual log—of some of the visits he made during Part Two of his Listening Tour. We’ll cover Part Three, which will focus on a visit to Los Angeles, in a later issue.
—Steinman and Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, as they bump fists prior to a free-wheeling conversation that covered many subjects, including Dow’s explanation of the need for legislation to improve the nation’s airport infrastructure so that it accommodate and facilitate U.S. and international visitor traffic, whose numbers have increased greatly in the past two decades and will continue to increase in the foreseeable future.
—With Nan Marchand Beauvois, US Travel’s vice president, national councils and general manager, ESTO. The NAJ Group attended this year’s ESTO (Educational Seminar for Tourism Organizations), held Aug 27-30 in Boca Raton, Florida. Steinman and Marchand, an executive in the tour and travel industry for three decades, discussed the growth of industry participation in ESTO, which has expanded the scope and range of its mission since Marchand joined US Travel in February 2011. She also indicated that another council, the U.S. Travel Experience Network—it represents more than 800 U.S. Travel members in organizations such as national parks, iconic landmarks, shopping centers, entertainment venues, attractions and sightseeing tours—is working on models that would help its members better measure ROI.
—A key part of the corps of veterans associated with the leadership of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO), as well as its predecessor organizations (the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Office of Travel and Tourism Industries and the U.S. Travel and Tourism Administration), Julie Heizer, NTTO’s deputy director, industry relations, gestures expansively during a lengthy conversation with Steinman. Among the points she touched upon was the agency’s desire to increase the size of the sample it uses in reporting on the Survey of International Air Travelers to the United States so that NTTO can provide reliable projections of the impact of international visitors to more, as well as smaller, U.S. destinations.
—Near Orlando, Florida, here’s a peek at Uri Argov, founder and CEO of Tourico Holidays, leading a class of 50 students in Tourico’s Travel Academy. Steinman watched as a role playing session put students through a challenging exercise that required 13 attempts and one hour to respond to a problem correctly. Established at the beginning of 2013, the Academy has produced several hundred graduates—almost all of whom have gone on to careers within Tourico.
—There was also a stop at the offices of the American Bus Association (ABA) during which Steinman had a wide-ranging discussion with Peter Pantuso, ABA’s longtime president and CEO. The acknowledged “dean” of travel and tourism associations in Washington, D.C., Pantuso recently observed his 20th anniversary at the helm of ABA. He indicated that ABA members who focus on charter business are experiencing a good year, while reports from the association’s tour operator members are mixed. (Absent a camera person at this stop, we have this file photo of Pantuso, taken when he attended last June’s IPW in New Orleans.)