The Travel Industry Association is set to expand internationally as
it enters the new millennium. The only question is: to what degree?
In a report that will be presented to TIA board members during
Pow Wow this week, the consulting firm of Booz-Allen & Hamilton
will offer its advice on the future direction of the association.
Included in that report will be recommendations on how much bigger
the 2,500-member organization should get, where it should focus its
energies and how much of a push it should make to expand beyond its
handful of international members.
chairman Chris Bowers -- who describes the report as a "pause to
take at look at what the future is going to be" -- said final
decisions on an "action plan" probably will be made by the board
July 29 in San Diego. TIA officials, though, already seem inclined
to make some sort of drive for international members who promote
travel to the U.S.
Ray Lutz, TIA's senior vice president for marketing and member
programs, said the organization has been "pretty parochial" in the
past. But that doesn't make sense at a time when acquisitions and
alliances are blurring worldwide boundaries, he said, adding, "It
is all global now."
The international outreach won't change TIA's mission: to
promote travel to and from the U.S. But TIA concluded its future is
not in domestic marketing. "While we would never ignore promoting
travel within the U.S., the emerging markets are obviously where we
see tremendous potential," said Bowers, who also is United
Airlines' senior vice president for North America.
Toward that end, TIA is forging ahead with the new $2.5 million
international marketing plan its board approved late last year.
Already this year, TIA is:Going outside of the U.S. -- and its own trade shows -- to
offer educational seminars that promote the U.S. market. In
February, TIA offered a seminar, complete with Broadway
performances, at a foreign trade show in Mexico City. A second
seminar is in the works for this fall, probably in Asia.Committing itself to participate in six international trade
shows before year's end -- two apiece in Europe, Asia and Latin
America -- although it hasn't specifically picked which shows those
TIA kicked off that effort in March when it ran the Visit USA
Press Center at what is billed as the largest international travel
trade show in the world: ITB in Berlin.Creating three international marketing manager positions, one
each for Asia, Europe and Latin America. They will establish
connections and give TIA a personal presence at virtually all Visit
USA Committee meetings worldwide.
"This is easily a tenfold increase in our level of involvement
and participation and visibility in these international markets,"
said Mark Hoy, director of international marketing.Establishing a manager of international research, who will
gather data and analyses on international travel.
Member-only services to be made available on the Web will
include an inventory of international data producers; reports on
specific countries, including historical trends and forecasts, and
an interactive database so users can get information to make their
own comparisons.Setting June 2000 as the target date for a planned "super Web
site" that would connect travel buyers and sellers worldwide.
However, the association still is working out exactly what a "super
Web site" would entail.