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A note from Todd for DMOs

To my closest member friend:

We’ve been telling you about the features we’ve added to Travel Exchange, and our event in Reno this November will be especially productive and rewarding. The changes include in-person Sales Mission and Best Pitch sessions, extra walking time and all-member breaks during appointments, and an active Sunday afternoon on the TREX Floor.

Here’s an upgrade we just put the final (electronic) touches on, and I think it’s as important as anything we’ve done: enhancements to online profiles. Hey, hear me out! This might sound like a minor tweak, but when used properly, it can reap major benefits for you. These profile improvements are member-driven, with guidance from each membership network and the NTA Board.

Your company’s online profile, viewed by NTA members all year round, is especially scrutinized when it’s time for making appointments at Travel Exchange—and even more so this year, in the aftermath of the pandemic. That’s why it’s so important for you to take advantage of the changes before the appointment-matching system opens in late September. The improvements I’ll describe in a minute are all about getting better-matched appointments at TREX … and making better connections between buyers and sellers throughout the year.

Here’s the way the appointment-making process is supposed to work:

  1. You study the online profile of “Todd the Buyer” to see if I visit your area and bring the type of travelers you work with. (And I can also study the profiles of sellers I’m considering meeting with.)
  2. If it’s potentially a good match, you add me to your list of appointment requests.
  3. When I receive your request, I study your online profile to see if you’re in an area I visit, and I’ll see if your place offers what my clients want.
  4. If the match has potential, I add you to my request list, and the NTA appointment-matching system recognizes this as a perfect match.
  5. The system fills our schedules with as many perfect matches as it can.
  6. Then we meet! Smiles, handshakes, and business ensue.

The system can falter on both sides of the equation … twice. If my profile or yours is incomplete or out of date, it might lead to an unproductive match—or a good match that won’t get made. Similarly, the information might be perfect, but if you or I fail to read it, then the match might not be great, or maybe a great match doesn’t happen.

I hope I’ve explained why an online profile can make or break your appointments at Travel Exchange. Now I want to tell you how we’ve made online profiles better.

It starts in your organization description, found under “Edit company information.” Your goal here is to create a robust but succinct summary of where you are and what you offer … to what types of travelers. Operators can do a keyword search, and that can lead them straight to you. You’ve got 100 words, so make ’em count!

Take a look under “Edit company demographics,” and you’ll see where you can add a URL in addition to your main website. You might add a link to an online photo gallery, a group-friendly profile sheet, or a webpage with itineraries. You can also list special events and festivals in your destination, and you can list specific types of travelers that your destination serves. Also, operators ask that, if relevant, you name the nearest gateway city.

We’ve also improved operators’ online profiles, allowing them to be more specific about the clients they serve, they places they package, and—get this—exactly what they’ll be looking for, place- and product-wise, in Reno. You can use operators’ profiles not only when you’re requesting appointments, but also after your schedule is set and you’re preparing for those meetings.

The NTA Board has been instrumental in re-imagining Travel Exchange—especially appointments—and their hope is that operators will be open to new ideas and information that DMOs offer at Travel Exchange (and year-round). We have reduced the number of states and provinces that an operator can block, which means you might see fewer grayed-out operator names when you enter the first phase of the appointment-request system. And note: In the Direct Request phase, all blocks are off, and you can request an appointment with any operator who has an open time and who matches well with your destination.

Your job is twofold: Update and ramp up the information on your profile, and pay attention to each operator’s online information before you reach out with an appointment request when the system opens. This will reduce mismatched appointments, which nobody wants.

I’ll provide more details soon, and you can email me now if you have questions. To start revising your online profile, you (or the primary contact in your organization) can log on to NTA Online, click on “Welcome [your name]” in the upper-right corner, and get to work. And when your appointments and business are better, you can pat yourself on the back!

Todd Probus, CTP, Director of Member Solutions
National Tour Association | |


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