About the Marketplace
The American Bus Association (ABA) has close to 3,800 members. About 1,000 members represent motorcoach and tour companies in the U.S. and Canada. These members operate charter, tour, regular route, airport express, special operations and contract services. The other 2,800 members represent the travel and tourism industry and suppliers of bus products and services, such as hotels, attractions and restaurants, who work in partnership with the North American motorcoach industry. As the industry leader, ABA caters to the transportation and travel needs of the public in North America.
The marketplace lasts four days and includes education sessions for both buyers and suppliers. They learn about new trends, marketing and sales techniques. Classes cover all the bases of running a successful business with topics that range from social media to how to handle a multi-generational workforce.
The art of networking is performed at marketplace. Attendees have many opportunities to build relationships. Building both relationships and trust are the main anchors to a successful marketplace.
The days start at 7 a.m. and can go as late as midnight. Each day is packed with hand shaking and face-to-face interaction. Meals are set so attendees can easily get to know folks in an informal setting. Everyone wears color-coded name badges, so you know who you’re sitting with by just a quick glance.
The host city often has two nights set aside to provide an off-site evening event. This is a great way to see destinations that are new and different and learn how they handle groups. You can learn a lot by watching other suppliers to see what you can do to improve things when you get back home. Suitcases are often heavier on the return flight. ABA is a great place to collect marketing pieces from other attractions, hotels or restaurants to study.
ABA is member-focused. It has held this annual marketplace for 40 years. More operators attend each year, along with more suppliers. The days are long, packed with activity, and the business generated is worth it.
On the final night of the 2015 conference, Louisville hosted an event, since it will be next year’s host city. It will be an exciting year for Kentuckiana. We can’t wait!
For questions about motorcoach groups, email Kate Kane.