By Brian Jewell
Photo courtesy ABA
GRAPEVINE, Texas — Large numbers of tour and bus operators and travel industry representatives turned out for the American Bus Association’s (ABA’s) 2012 Marketplace event in Grapevine, Jan. 6-10.
“The show has been a great success,” said Dan Ronan, senior director of communications, marketing and public relations for ABA. “We’ve had 3,500 people here across the last several days and millions of dollars of business being done.”
The attendance included more than 760 tour and motorcoach operators in addition to thousands of convention and visitors bureaus, hotels, attractions and other industry delegates.
Ronan said that the strong turnout and positive outlook among delegates indicates an economic recovery in the tour industry.
“There are signs that we’re seeing a nice rebound in travel and the economy,” he said. “Everyone has been very positive about the event.”
In addition to the education sessions, business appointments and bustling trade show area, this year’s marketplace will be remembered for its entertainment and special events. Entertainers from Branson took the stage in full costume during one luncheon to present scenes from various hit shows in the Missouri destination.
The next day, Group Sales Box Office presented a lunch entertainment program with performances by the casts of numerous hit Broadway musicals. Highlights included acrobatic feats by cast members of “Traces” and Cirque du Soleil’s “Zarkana,” as well as a presentation from “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.”
Host Grapevine Convention and Visitors Bureau and its partners in the Dallas-Fort Worth area put on a number of memorable events as well, including an evening at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. The dinner, music and dancing party took place on the famous turf at the stadium and featured an address from Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, who stayed on site to take pictures and sign autographs for the duration of the event.
ABA also used the event to promote its new Web-based video program "Motorcoach Travel News, "filming interviews and footage at a studio set up on the trade show floor.
“It’s a monthly, 15-minute TV webcast,” Ronan said. “We’re very straightforward with it. We’re delivering an objective, news-based broadcast in a digital format. We’re trying to give people a newscast of record for this industry.”