Insights from the National Tour Associations Travel Exchange (Part 2), with Nicole Mahoney

Episode 361

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This week, the show is coming from the NTA Travel Exchange in Shreveport, LA, where more than 800 tour & travel professionals convened to do business, learn, and network. There have been several years of uncertainty and change in the travel industry, but from speaking to these experienced leaders, it looks as though there are positive times ahead. In these conversations, we dig into the trends they’re seeing in the tour & travel business, and my guests share how important collaboration is to their destination’s success.

In this episode, you’ll hear from these extraordinary leaders:

Insights from The National Tour Associations Travel Exchange

The NTA Travel Exchange is all about positive energy, partnership, and collaboration and it’s an event that gives travel experts space to explore new opportunities for their locations. I love hearing these fascinating thoughts from extraordinary leaders in the travel niche. I know you’ll enjoy their insights on why events like the NTA Travel Exchange make them better tourism professionals.

Kristy Durso of Incredible Memories Travel

Kristy highlights the significance of addressing accessibility challenges in travel, focusing on service dog laws as a critical issue. She emphasizes that collaboration, partnership, and communication are key for successful, accessible travel, and in that same vein, her word to describe the NTA Travel Exchange is “essential”.

Lisa Simon of International Inbound Travel Association

Lisa also talks about the importance of partnerships and collaboration in the travel industry for growing tourism and improving travel products for returning European visitors. She discusses examples of incorporating outdoor products and including national and state parks and their indigenous residents in travel packages. Lastly, she describes the travel industry as fun and rewarding for future professionals, emphasizing the positive energy at events like NTA Travel Exchange.

Lori Sorrentino, Travel Writer and Owner of

Lori discusses the rise of multi-generational and slow travel, the heightened awareness of travel impacts, and a love for small rural destinations. We talk about the importance of understanding the diverse reasons why people travel and the significance of connecting with various businesses and groups in the industry. Lori also shares insights on the industry’s ongoing evolution, underscoring the limitless potential for growth and experiences in the tourism profession.

Michael Dillinger of National Federation of Tourist Guide Associations – USA

In my chat with Michael, we dug into the challenges of being a tour guide and the lack of recognition for their role. He and I discussed the magic of the tourism industry and recent trends in the tour and travel business, such as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, staffing shortages, and the use of technology, specifically AI, in the tourism industry. He stresses the importance of staying updated and connected with the industry and the role of events like the NTA Travel Exchange conference in achieving this.

Ron Metz of GoWay Travel

One of the things that comes up repeatedly at these events is the importance of trust and collaboration in the tourism industry, noting that successful trips involve multiple travel components and people. He describes the industry as life-changing, allowing him to meet and work with individuals worldwide and explore different countries. Ron shares personal experiences of presenting travel opportunities and finding fulfillment in helping others experience the world. He encourages potential future tourism professionals to pursue a career in the industry, highlighting the limitless potential for growth and experiences.

Shannon Larsen of Ed-Ventures

Shannon discusses current trends in the tour and travel industry, highlighting a shift towards experiential travel, smaller group bookings, and the demand for hands-on experiences, such as wine tastings and cultural interactions, as well as the desire for leisurely, immersive itineraries. She and I reflect on why attending in-person events is so valuable in terms of networking, problem-solving, and collaboration with industry peers. When I asked Shannon to describe the NTA Travel Exchange in a word, Shannon chose “friendship” to represent her strong relationships and collaborations in the industry.

Ted Bravos of International Tour Management Institute

Ted shares his journey into the travel industry and discusses the evolution of the tourism industry, mentioning the benefits of group travel in enhancing people’s overall experience of new locations. He mentions his love for the freedom and personal connections that come with the profession and highlights the importance of participating in industry events like the NTA Travel Exchange for networking and industry education.

Positive Steps into the Future

I love discussing the ever-evolving landscape of the tourism industry with the dedicated travel professionals that we have on the show. In the episode we’re exploring the significance of shared experiences in group travel, the growing popularity of slow travel, and the vital role of collaboration and partnerships in creating meaningful and accessible travel experiences. From insights into industry trends and the impact of technology to personal anecdotes of professional growth and fulfillment, our guests have shed light on the transformative nature of the tourism profession and I know you’ll enjoy hearing their wisdom.

I am so excited to announce that my first book, Stronger Together: Building World-Changing Collaborations that Succeed, has been released! Help me celebrate this milestone and expand your knowledge about collaboration. Find out more information here:

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