Detroit is hosting expansion of Connect Travel’s RTO Summit Series: Through all the trials of the global pandemic, Connect Travel has continued to operate a suite of successful events, including some that bring together the travel industry with receptive tour operators (or RTOs) in different parts of the country—such as New York City, Orlando and Los Angeles.
RTO Summit brand, which has a history of 20 years of planning and organizing successful events, is branching out (or inward, some might say) with its RTO Marketplace International August 8-10 in Detroit. To find out how Connect Travel got to Detroit (and will be reaching other places and market segments), INBOUND* has talked with Shari Bailey, vice president at Connect Travel, and Betsy Cooper, Connect Travel’s senior director of TourOperatorLand.com and partner engagement, who works with RTOs on a daily basis.
One of the benefits of listening: The Staying Connected webinar series was part of the process. Bailey, with Cooper helping her, developed and conducted some 50 webinars in which, overall, thousands of different tourism industry professionals discussed what they were doing, recommended steps that others could take to turn the corner to recovery, and discussed how to help each other on issues that ranged from those that were easy-to-understand to those that were impossibly complex.
Participants included RTOs, DMO officials, domestic tour operators and some of the best problem-solving minds in the industry. There was a lot of input, Bailey and Cooper told INBOUND, on Connect Travel’s RTO Summits. As 2020 became 2021, Connect has been able to co-locate some of its products—such as the Connect THRIVE Summit (June 4-5)or the eTourism Summit (June 6-8)—with IPW, which launches June 4-8, 2022 in Orlando.
Bringing the Brand to Detroit: Simply stated, the RTO Marketplace International 2022 is the answer. Explains Bailey: “Bringing suppliers, international buyers, receptive tour operators and domestic travel providers together in one place provides a travel ecosystem of opportunities which are far greater than what a single show could offer.”
Put another way, the RTO Marketplace International does not necessarily segment RTO activity geographically (i.e., into Summits in Los Angeles, Orlando and New York, where many RTOs have headquarters) but brings the RTO professionals and their colleagues nationwide to Detroit.
(An added benefit to the timing: Because some international tour operators still have print products with their programs and tariffs included, while others want to put the latest information on the same to their websites, RTO Marketplace International will provide a setting for last-minute program changes on inclusions.)
Already a success in 2022 with the RTO Summit West March 22-23 in Los Angeles and the RTO Summit East Feb. 28-March 2 in New York, the Summit series returns to a fully packed calendar with the RTO Summit South this Sept. 13-14 in Kissimmee.
And, INBOUND learned, get ready for an RTO Summit Southwest. In discussing Connect Travel events and the segmentation and internationalization of the RTO Summit brand, Cooper told us that already beyond developmental stages is an “RTO Summit Southwest” that will take place this autumn. Dates are November 14-16, 2022 in El Paso, Texas. The event will target professionals sourcing business in the Southwestern U.S.
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* (Full disclosure: Connect Travel publishes INBOUND.)