By Brian Jewell
At the annual TAP Dance conference in Shreveport, Louisiana, in June, Travel Alliance Partners (TAP) named Jim Coggin, tourism sales manager at the Virginia Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau, the first recipient of its Spirit of TAP Award.
The award was created to honor TAP founding member Ann Thomas of Western Discovery, who succumbed to cancer earlier this year after a long struggle. Thomas was serving as the secretary/treasurer of TAP at the time and had previously served as a leader in other travel industry organizations, including NTA.
“As Ann faced the challenge of this disease straight on, she maintained a positive outlook while being courageous,” said TAP executive director Stefanie Gorder. “With this tremendous loss to the TAP family, TAP partners and staff created the Spirit of TAP Award to recognize an individual who truly has the vision and embodies the true spirit of Travel Alliance Partners.”
TAP members noted Coggin’s vision, leadership and positive attitude in selecting him as the first recipient of the award. Coggin has been involved with the organization as a Professional Preferred Travel Provider for several years and was instrumental in the creation of SpecTAPular, the largest tour event ever hosted by the partnership.
The award was presented by Thomas’ daughter Tracy Gruber. Gruber and Coggin received a standing ovation from conference attendees.
“It was a special moment to honor an amazing woman who was still focused on the industry and TAP as she was on the final journey of life on earth,” Gorder said. “It is our desire to annually provide the Spirit of TAP Award to another individual who had the vision and embodies strength and wisdom in our industry despite the challenges that they face.”