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Is this your first time attending Travel Exchange? Use this page to learn from Travel Exchange veterans so you’ll feel 100% prepared to take on your first NTA convention.

We’ve compiled this guide to help first-time attendees make their inaugural Travel Exchange as productive and stress-free as possible.


Delta Air Lines, NTA’s official airline partner, is pleased to offer special discounts up to 10 percent off for Travel Exchange attendees. Make reservations and purchase tickets at When booking online, use the meeting event code NMUAF, and enter it in the box provided on the Search Flight page.

What should I bring?

Appropriate attire: When it comes to the daytime sessions of Travel Exchange, you’ll want to dress to impress. This means business attire (tie optional for men). For sightseeing tours and evening networking events, casual attire is perfectly fine.

Business cards: You’re there to do business, right? Of course you are! So be prepared for not only your appointments but also the times when you’ll meet members on a shuttle, at your table during a luncheon or even on the elevator. A good place to stash your business cards is behind your name badge in the plastic badge holder you’ll receive at NTA Registration.

Profile sheets (for DMOs and Suppliers): At the end of a business appointment, you’re allowed to leave TWO pieces of material behind with the buyer sitting across from you: your business card and your one-page profile form. For more details on how to format this important marketing piece, go to, click on “Appointments,” then the blue “What You Need to Know” button.

Chargers/travel outlet: You’ll want to have your smart device handy to use during appointments and to use the Travel Exchange mobile app, but it will do you no good if it’s not charged. While there will be a few charging stations on the show floor, you’ll want to bring your own just in case.

Comfortable shoes: Trust us, Travel Exchange is not the time to break in new shoes. Bring your favorite standbys for a dressier look during appointment sessions and keep the heels low to maximize comfort. And don’t forget our evening networking events, where the dance floor awaits!

Mints, gum and lip balm:  You know those “minor” things that people always seem to forget when packing for a trip? Well, these are three items that veteran Travel Exchange attendees know to keep in their purse or pockets.

What do I need to do before I leave?

Update your profile: Your NTA Online profile is what potential appointment partners see when they’re determining who to add to their request list. So be sure that your profile is as accurate and informative as possible. Remember that you can add social media links, photos and a logo to your profile—each can help members determine who they want to meet.

Work on your appointment schedule: If you’re registered as a full appointment-taking delegate, you can begin working on your appointment request list (date TBA). That’s the day the appointment site opens, and you can create a list of companies you’d like to meet. This phase of the appointment request process lasts until TBA, so you have until then to make any changes to your list. On that day, the appointment request site will close, and the matching system will begin the process of creating customized appointment schedules based on those requests.

Here are a couple of important notes about making your appointment request list:

  1. The date that you submit your request list does not have any impact on the schedule you actually receive. In other words, you don’t need to rush online on the first day to complete your list. You’re welcome to begin building your list that day, but you’re at no advantage if you submit your list right away. Be sure to give yourself time, as you might miss out on any new registrants who are added. So while it’s a good idea to work on your list early, you’ll want to keep checking back in to see the newest additions to the registrant list.
  2. Make all of your allotted requests! Buyers can request up to 40 DMOs and 80 suppliers with whom they’d like to meet. DMOs and suppliers can request up to 60 buyers for meetings. The more requests you make, the more prescheduled appointments you’re likely to get, so try to make the maximum number of appointments.
  3. Remember, your NTA Online profile is what potential business partners will see when they’re determining whether to add you to their appointment request list. So before appointment scheduling opens, be sure to look at your company’s NTA Online profile and ensure that it truly tells the story of your product or destination. Add images, social media links and a description that tells what you’re all about. Keep in mind that only an organization’s primary NTA contact can make any changes to its online profile.

Customized appointment schedules (created from those request lists) will be posted TBA. That’s the same day the Direct Request system opens. You can submit Direct Request appointment requests with registrants who have openings on their appointment schedule. And don’t forget….Travel Exchange has an open-floor policy, which means that even if you don’t have a company on your appointment schedule, you are still welcome to approach their appointment booth on the floor if no one is seated across from them, and ask to share about your organization.

Put your best sheet forward: As mentioned, there are only two items you can leave with the person sitting across from you at the end of an appointment: your business card and your profile form. So be sure to make that profile form pop with relevant information, images and whatever you feel will leave a lasting impression with a potential partner. You can find a sample profile form here.

Do your appointment homework: Once you have your appointment schedule in hand, take some time to research the companies you’ll be meeting with by looking at their NTA Online profile. Potential business partners will want to know that you’ve taken the time and effort to learn about their company. Plus, this extra insight will help you tailor your appointment message to their needs. Show up prepared!

Listen to Clayton: ….Clayton Whitehead, that is. Clayton is vice president of Sports Leisure Vacations, a longtime NTA tour operator member. But Clayton is also a longtime Travel Exchange veteran, and for the past several years has hosted a “Know Before You Go” webinar a few weeks before the event. The date for this year’s webinar has not yet been set, but all registrants will be notified when that information becomes available. Whether you join us live, or watch the archived webinar at your convenience, be sure you check it out before you hit the road.

Ask an Ambassador: Do you have Travel Exchange questions that would best be answered by an industry peer? Then reach out to one of our Travel Exchange Ambassadors, a group of NTA members who have made themselves available for questions about Travel Exchange. Whether you have questions about working the floor, making your pitch during appointments, or even how to follow up with potential business partners once Travel Exchange has ended, these folks are here to help! You can reach out to our Ambassadors via our First-timers page.

I know about the appointments, seminars, and evening social events. But what else should I do while at Travel Exchange?

See the sights: Before it’s time to get down to business, it’s time to enjoy our host city! More details to come.

Wear your ribbon: The most important part of your name badge is, well … your name. But if you’re a first-time attendee, the second-most important part of your name badge may very well be a pink ribbon that you affix to the bottom, because that ribbon indicates that you’re experiencing Travel Exchange for the first time. Convention veterans love meeting first-time attendees and making them feel welcome.

Listen to Clayton (again): Not only does Clayton host the “Know Before You Go” webinar, he also hosts “Travel Exchange 101”, an on-site seminar twice during Travel Exchange. Clayton will also be offering a tour of the show floor twice during Travel Exchange following his seminars.

You won’t need to RSVP for “Travel Exchange 101.” Just make plans to join Clayton or either session that is offered. Don’t miss this terrific intro to your Travel Exchange experience.

Share a meal: We’ll be offering a Dine-around gathering exclusively for first-time attendees. Keep your eyes/ears open for how to RSVP for this fantastic chance to get to know your fellow first-timers.

Get the best seat in the house: Once again, we’ll have some special seating for Travel Exchange first-timers some of our meal events. Be on the lookout for information about these opportunities to connect with fellow convention “rookies”. These meals are included in your registration, and there’ll be seating available for all registrants. But as an extra treat for first-timers, we have a few tables set up in prime locations for these meals. Be sure to wear your first-time attendee ribbon, and inquire at the dining room entrance about this special seating. Remember, this is very limited, so it’ll fill up fast. But if you don’t snag one of these seats, don’t worry, you’ll still be able to find a seat and enjoy a great meal.

Lend a hand: One of the best ways to network at Travel Exchange is by volunteering. We’ll have plenty of opportunities for you to serve while at Travel Exchange, so check back this fall to find what role best fits your schedule. The online volunteer sign-up site will be available at a later date.

Don’t be shy: A first convention experience, especially a convention that’s built around networking, can be a lot to get your mind and arms around. Have no fear! You’ll find yourself surrounded by friendly, hospitable industry peers, who are there for the exact same reason you are—to build relationships. So don’t hesitate to sit with them at a plated meal function, strike up a conversation on the shuttle to a networking event or ask them about their business while seated next to them at a seminar. Travel Exchange is all about relationships, and you never know where one might start.

If you’re an introvert, you might find one of these links helpful:

An Introvert’s Guide to Standing Out at Conferences

Forbes: An Introvert’s Guide to Networking

The Introvert’s Guide to Conference Season

Stay connected: During TREX, we’ll be handing out Travel Exchange Daily, a printed newsletter that highlights the day’s event and includes any late-breaking news, as well as photos and information from the previous day of Travel Exchange. You can pick one up outside the main hall each morning.

You’ll also want to be part of the online conversation during Travel Exchange by using the official Travel Exchange hashtag: #TREX20. We’ll also be posting regular updates on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube as well. And of course, you can stay updated on all things Travel Exchange by downloading the Travel Exchange mobile app from the iTunes App Store or Google Play when it becomes available (simply search for “Travel Exchange 2020”. The app will not be available until the week before the event).

More than anything, we want your first Travel Exchange experience to be everything you hope it should be … and more. Please let us know how we can help you make the most of it. And if you have any ideas for future editions of this First-timer Guide, please email Todd Probus on NTA’s Member Solutions team at with any suggestions you might have.

Jennifer Tremblay

National Museum of Wildlife Art
Jackson, WY

-How do I network outside of appointments?

Attend educational seminars and the evening social events. I make it a point to introduce myself and hand out business cards to each person seated at the same seminar table. Every connection counts!

-What events do you recommend first-timers attend?

I would recommend attending the evening Ice Breaker event because you meet faces you will see for the rest of the week. It makes you step outside of your comfort zone by being surrounded with people you’ve never met, while also a fun atmosphere and a casual way to meet people!

-What is one appointment tip for first-timers?

Be sure to print and bring the version of your appointment schedule that has a section for notes. Take notes during your appointments so you can remember specifics. Sometimes things start to blend together with so many conversations, so it’s nice to have a handy reference page to look back on!

-What are three items that every attendee needs to bring?

  1. A casual outfit or two for the fun evening events!
  2. Reusable water bottle – convention spaces tend to be a bit dry.
  3. A light bag to hold your NTA notes and handouts when you walk around the floor.

Mark Dawson

Surfside on the Lake Hotel and Suites
Lake George, NY

-How do I network outside of appointments?
Every conversation that you have IS an appointment. Sit with new people at lunch and strike up a conversation, be outgoing at the social events, walk back to your hotel with new people. Any chance you get to connect with an attendee is an opportunity for your business. A lot of my success at capturing business came from the informal conversations I had outside of appointments.

-What events do you recommend first-timers attend?
First timers should attend most (if not all) of the events. This shows that you are engaged and it also helps to make you more recognizable. The foundation for success at TREX is utilizing your time outside of formal appointments, making those connections that you weren’t able to make on the business floor.

-What is one appointment tip for first-timers?
Know who you are talking to. Spend time doing preliminary research on the person or company you have an appointment with. Find the connections between the two of you, and use that to your advantage. It shows a higher level of professionalism and organization.

-What are three items that every attendee needs to bring?

  1. An abundance of business cards. These are important for networking and for your formal appointments.
  2. Comfortable shoes, because you will be doing a lot of walking.
  3. Some sort of communication device (phone, laptop, tablet, etc.) you never know when you will need to get connected or do some quick research.

Kalynne Defever

Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau
Detroit, MI

-How do I network outside of appointments?
Attend any and all educational sessions. These are great because they’re usually round table discussions, which give you an opportunity to meet people who you may not have an appointment with.

-What events do you recommend first-timers attend?
All of the networking events are valuable! The first-timer webinars are also very helpful in terms of what to bring, what to expect, do’s and don’ts, etc.

-What is one appointment tip for first-timers?
Do your research prior to the appointment!

-What are three items that every attendee needs to bring?

  1. Business cards
  2. Profile sheets
  3. A small stapler

Is there a question you’d love to ask one of your fellow NTA members about what to expect at Travel Exchange? How to work the floor? What to ask during your appointments? What to pack? Which events to attend? Now, you can! NTA ambassadors are your go-to NTA members for TREX18. They’ve been there; they’ve done that, and they’re here to help. Simply click on their names to ask them a question.

If you have any questions about things such as the appointment scheduling system, your NTAonline login and password, your registration, etc., please e-mail NTA HQ.


During his 28 years in the tourism industry, Jim has earned a reputation as a go-to guy, probably a good thing considering he works for a destination marketing organization. In additional to all the industry knowledge he’s accumulated, Jim has been to NTA’s Travel Exchange more than a dozen times and has served on the association’s leadership team. Seems like just the type of person you’d want to reach out to for peer-to-peer advice regarding the convention, right?

What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever eaten?
Squirrel. You guessed it…It tasted just like chicken.


After more than 25 years of working the floor at Travel Exchange, Scott channels his inner Boy Scout when asked to share advice with newcomers. “Be sure to come prepared. Whether you’re a seller or a buyer, know in advance what you want to accomplish. Come to the exchange floor with a specific reason why you are meeting with each company on your list. Also, what you do before and after convention is actually as important, and perhaps more important, than what you do at convention.”

What fad from back in the day do you wish would come back?
Bring back Space Invaders, Asteroids, Donkey Kong and Pac Man. They were the only computer games I ever got good at.


When Melody was growing up, she wanted to follow in her mom’s footsteps and become a school teacher, because she always loved learning. While she wound up in the travel industry instead, she sees learning as an essential part of running her own tour company. And one of the main lessons she learned over the years is the value of building quality relationships with DMO representatives and tour suppliers. And where does she meet these partners? That’d be Travel Exchange.

If you could get up on stage with any musical group, who would it be?
The Glenn Miller orchestra


Michelle’s answer to your NTA-related question might just be the solution you’re looking for. How do we know? Because not only is she an NTA Ambassador, she is also the chair of NTA’s Tour Operator Network. This means she’s well-versed in the many ways that your NTA membership can work for you. As the owner of a tour operator company that’s been in business for more than a decade, she follows the industry even more closely than she follows her beloved New England Patriots.

What is one movie you will ALWAYS stop to watch?
“Under the Tuscan Sun”


Among this year’s top-flight group of Travel Exchange Ambassadors, John trumps them all in terms of experience. He first attended the event during Ronald Reagan’s second term as U.S. president—that was 1984–88 for those of you needing a quick primer on presidential history—and has been building relationships with members ever since. His knowledge of the event and passion for the industry may only be surpassed by his love for the area he calls home, Virginia’s beautiful Shenandoah Valley.

What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever eaten?
Lunch at my high school cafeteria.


If you’ve ever met Suzanne, shy might not be the first (or 101st) word you’d use to describe her. And, she encourages all Travel Exchange first-timers to follow her lead. “Don’t be shy,” she says. “There is a lot going on, and every event is a networking opportunity.” Suzanne knows what she’s talking about, as evidenced by the fact that NTA presented her with its Bob Everidge Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2015 convention.

If you could get up on stage with any musical group, who would it be?


The Fort Worth convention will mark Christian’s eighth TREX, making him a babe in the woods compared to the rest of the Ambassadors. But, he’s a quick study and is one of NTA’s international members who has found great success by attending. In addition to owning a tour company, Christian is, appropriately, a pastor. Besides checking with him to get Travel Exchange pointers, be sure to ask him about Oberammergau 2020.

What fad from back in the day do you wish would come back?
Taking pictures with a camera, not with a cell phone, which means to wait until it’s worth taking a picture.


Speaking of A-list Travel Exchange volunteers, Clayton has been a mainstay at NTA’s signature event for the better part of three decades. The informative Travel Exchange 101 seminars he leads, along with his tours of the convention floor, are musts for first-timers, and he consistently earns kudos from newbies on the post-event surveys. While he is much better live, he also has a wellspring of wisdom he can draw from to help you as you are preparing for Fort Worth.

What was your dream job when you were a kid?
Cruise director, like Julie on “The Love Boat.” I wrote Princess Cruises in high school to find out how to make it happen, and they answered!


Hailing from the “Rocket City”, Pam may just be the person to help your NTA membership soar. Having been with her city’s DMO for 13 years, Pam can help you navigate the multiple ways to promote your destination to the hundreds of tour operators who are part of the NTA family. Not only has Pam connected with tour operators through Travel Exchange, her DMO has also been a consistent advertiser and sponsor of NTA events, so she has seen the benefit of NTA membership from many angles.

One travel destination you haven’t yet visited, but desperately want to:

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