Two major bus groups launch an online group travel tool that allows users to get and compare multiple price quotes for a broad array of travel services, accommodations, and attractions.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The AMERICAN BUS ASSOCIATION (ABA) and the ONTARIO MOTORCOACH ASSOCIATION (OMCA) have launched a joint ONLINE GROUP-TRAVEL PLANNING TOOL, GroupTravelConnect.com. This new online tool – which has more than 12,000 companies listed – allows users to request multiple quotes at once from accommodations, restaurants, attractions, festivals/events, retail outlets, receptive travel services, local convention and visitor bureaus, tour operators and bus operators.
No middlemen or brokers are involved in transactions, so requests go straight from consumers to the group-travel provider. Company profiles on the site include mini-websites with contact information, website addresses, general descriptions of services, maps, photos, videos etc.
Users also have the ability to request information from ABA or OMCA tour operators who can build the entire package for the group and offer valuable services not offered to the general public. Tour operators provide an invaluable service for the group planner by taking the guess work out of the process.
“GroupTravelConnect.com provides users access to the largest network of group travel providers in North America,” said Michael Colborne, Chairman of GroupConnect.com and President of Calgary, Alberta-based PACIFIC WESTERN TRANSPORTATION.
“This OMCA-ABA venture is going to be the Travelocity, Expedia, Orbitz and Priceline of group travel all in one place on the web,” OMCA President Brian Crow said.
“This will redefine the way group travel business is done,” ABA President & CEO Peter Pantuso said. “It provides the consumer better reach to the motorcoach, tourism and group travel industry in one place.”
This follows the first-ever Tour Operator Summit hosted by the ABA and the OMCA March 30-31, 2011, at the Turning Stone Resort in Verona, N.Y.
Representatives from more than 100 companies attended the OMCA/ABA TOUR OPERATOR SUMMIT, which featured educational seminars, business sessions, networking events, and a mini-trade show. Forty-five bus and tour operator members and 77 tour-supplier members of both organizations from both sides of the border attended the event. The summit addressed issues such as tour trends and demographic developments, U.S.-Canadian border crossing issues, and social networking.
“The location brought the borders issues to the forefront and the feedback from both the operators and suppliers has been extremely positive,” Crow said. “And we thank our title sponsors, the Turning Stone Resort & Casino and New York State Tourism, for their gracious hospitality in hosting this vital event.”
“We received valuable insight from both U.S.- and Canadian-based tour operators at this event, due to their active participation,” Pantuso said.
The two-day summit included an operator-to-operator session (OMCA and ABA tour operators), a mini-trade show featuring tour and travel partners, and educational seminars covering tour trends and demographic shifts in group travel. The summit also covered the timely topics of border crossing issues; online business-building using GROUPCONNECT; social networking; and U.S. and Canadian liability concerns.
OMCA and ABA are evaluating all aspects of the summit and working with participants to make recommendations of future joint efforts to build on the success of the summit.
Source: AMERICAN BUS ASSOCIATION; GROUPTRAVELCONNECT.COM