Katey Pease is vice president of business development with the National Tour Association (NTA) in Lexington, Ky.
Briefly describe what your job entails?
My primary responsibility is oversight of all association events, including Travel Exchange, our annual member meeting. I am responsible for site selection, budgets, schedules, contracts and execution. I also manage NTA’s appointment scheduling system, which is a custom-designed online program that generates one-on-one meetings for our event participants. When I am not planning events, I work with the NTA member relations team to retain and serve our members.
Briefly describe your recent meeting in Atlanta.
Travel Exchange is a member-only event that offers packaged-travel professionals from around the world the best business-building show in the industry. The event is comprised of one-on-one business appointments, a full slate of education, industry exhibits and networking events. The five-day event is focused on facilitating B2B connections and is held annually in locations all across North America.
Was anyone particularly helpful in executing the event?
The Atlanta CVB is credited with NTA selecting Atlanta as host for the 2016 event. Their sales team submitted a very competitive bid and their efforts, combined with the hotel and convention center package, made Atlanta an easy choice. The assistance and cooperation we received from the convention services and travel trade team was instrumental in showcasing Atlanta. They arranged half-day city tours and even coordinated a police escort for easy travel to one of the evening events. In addition to the CVB, NTA has long-standing relationships with key vendors that really serve as an extension of the NTA staff. In Atlanta, we were excited to celebrate our 30-year anniversary with our production company, Atlanta-based M squared OnStage.
What did your attendees seem to enjoy the most about meeting in Atlanta?
Atlanta is a very easy destination to get to by air, so finding flights that were convenient and reasonable was a plus for our attendees. The good weather was an added bonus. We experienced 60-plus degree days in early February.
Did you incorporate any fun evening events?
Evening networking events are a key component to the success of Travel Exchange. In Atlanta, we were thrilled to be hosted by four unique tourism-related venues on four different nights. We started with an evening of fun and games at the College Football Hall of Fame & Chick-fil-A Fan Experience, an interactive museum that opened in August 2014. The following night we were treated to a taste of Atlanta arts and culture at the Woodruff Arts Center, Atlanta Symphony and High Museum of Art. Attendees were even treated to a symphony performance! Next, we went to the newly opened Andretti Indoor Karting & Games where we raced, ate, drank and played all night. Finally, we closed our event with a party at the Delta Flight Museum with a behind-the-scenes look at air travel and dancing underneath a Boeing 767, The Spirit of Delta.
Would you return/recommend Atlanta to other planners, and why?
I would definitely recommend Atlanta. In addition to the great airlift and easy access, there are many convention hotels. The number of hotels allows a planner to negotiate competitive rates and find hotels that are close to your meeting venue.