WASHINGTON, D.C. — The American Bus Association’s recent 2014 Marketplace in Nashville is being lauded as the largest and strongest show ever put on by the ABA in terms of size, likely economic impact, return on investment for its members, and amazing evening activities.
More than 3,500 delegates gathered in Nashville January 11-15, conducting more than 100,000 face-to-face business meetings with people from all across North America. In the process, they booked tens of millions of dollars’ worth of business to destinations, attractions and hotels in the United States and Canada. The delegates also took advantage of professionally run educational programs and opportunities to network with fellow business leaders.
Again this year, the New York City-based economic consulting firm John Dunham and Associates conducted an annual survey on the amount of business generated at Marketplace. The full report will be available later this spring. In Charlotte, at ABA’s 2013 Marketplace, the convention generated more than $108.3 million in total business.
- 3,500 people attended the show – a new record
- 933 motorcoach and tour operators were in attendance
- 322 motorcoach and tour operator companies took appointments all week – 50+ more than last year
- 30-31 appointments on average were prescheduled for each seller
- 24 partners held meetings for their membership or attended Marketplace in recognition of Marketplace as the leading industry show to conduct business
- 331 sponsors
- 304 associate service and product suppliers attended
- 54 associate product and service suppliers exhibited at Marketplace
- Networking floor offered 12 motorcoaches and 138 exhibitors
- $41,500 raised for Thistle Farms, this year's Marketplace Gives Back charity
Here are quotes from some of the delegates who attended ABA’s Marketplace 2014:
Jayne Russell, Worldwide Sales Manager, Best Western International, Phoenix, AZ: “We keep coming back because it’s good for our hotels. ABA brings a lot of business to all of our hotels. ABA is just a great organization.”
Patti Lloyd, Vice President of Sales, Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce/CVB, Cape Cod, MA: “We feel that the American Bus Association’s Marketplace is a good place to represent all of Cape Cod, the islands, Massachusetts and New England. All of the ABA operators do know us, and they give us a lot of business, so this is where we come.”
Brian Whitaker, Vice President, Chicagoland Transportation Solutions, Barrington, IL: “We make a lot of connections at Marketplace. We network with other tour operators, network with destinations and find new places to take our tours.”
Americans Are Riding Motorcoaches
Also at Marketplace, delegates learned the results of a major report from DePaul University of Chicago showing that scheduled city-to-city motorcoach service has increased for the seventh year in a row. Professor Joseph P. Schwieterman said the study shows that scheduled motorcoach service provides passengers significant savings when compared to trains, planes or private cars. Bus riders save 52% compared to trips by rail on the same itinerary, and they pay 79% less than airline fliers. On trips of 80 to 500 miles, bus riders pay 38% less than automobile drivers.
Marketplace Gives Back
ABA delegates were extremely generous, donating more than $40,000 to the Nashville non-profit Thistle Farms as part of “Marketplace Gives Back.” Thistle Farms works to help women, many of whom have lived on the streets, attain skills for meaningful lives and careers.
Since it began, ABA’s Marketplace Gives Back has donated more than $280,000 to deserving non-profits in Marketplace host cities. To raise money for Thistle Farms, ABA members were invited to attend “Heroes Behind the Hits,” which put songwriters in the spotlight performing their hits, revealing their influences and sharing their personal stories of writing, recording and living in Music City. It was taped before a live audience and will be broadcast several times on Sirius XM Satellite Radio. Delegates also bought handmade natural body care products produced by the women of Thistle Farms, which were available for sale on the Marketplace floor.
Nashville’s Finest Entertained Delegates
Martina McBride and Phil Vassar performed concerts at the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum. Delegates also attended a magnificent night at the historic Grand Ole Opry featuring stars Alison Krauss, Darius Rucker, The Gatlin Brothers and Old Crow Medicine Show.
The Bus Industry Safety Council (BISC) held several meetings, where leading safety and security experts in the motorcoach industry discussed best practices to make travel by motorcoach, already the safest form of surface transportation, even safer. At this year’s Marketplace, BISC meetings were collocated with the International Motorcoach Group. Top government officials, including Anne Ferro, Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, also attended Marketplace. She addressed the Bus Industry Safety Council and met with ABA’s leadership.
More than two dozen partners chose ABA’s Marketplace as the place to hold major meetings. This big tent included ABA’s new Hispanic Motorcoach Council. The group discussed safety issues and serious problems along the Mexican border, where motorcoach passengers sometimes wait more than 10 hours to clear U.S. Customs.
ABA President and CEO Peter Pantuso said of the event, “This was a great Marketplace and one that delegates will be talking about for years to come. We thank our partners in Nashville for their superb work. Now we look forward to working with our friends and colleagues in St. Louis, where we will join them January 10-13, 2015.”
For more information about the event and the ABA, go to www.buses.org., and for a complete photo gallery of Marketplace 2014, go to www.abamarketplace.smugmug.com.
Source: American Bus Assocation