With motorcoach ridership dramatically on the increase nationwide and now nearly 750 million passengers annually, the American Bus Association (ABA) is bringing its annual “Marketplace” to Grapevine, Texas, just minutes from Dallas and Fort Worth. The event will be held Jan. 6 through Jan. 10 at the Gaylord Texan Resort.
Marketplace offers an opportunity for motorcoach operators to get together face-to-face with potentially thousands of customers to book future tours, take advantage of educational opportunities, network with other operators and meet with equipment suppliers during the ABA’s Product Pavilion.
A recently released study by DePaul University of Chicago shows that motorcoach travel is increasing nationwide, up for the fifth year in a row. Daily curbside departures climbed 7.1% in 2011. Motorcoach travel ranks as the second most utilized form of leisure travel, just behind airline travel, as more people in North America are leaving their car keys at home and riding luxury motorcoaches to get to work, take a business trip, travel with friends or go on a vacation.
“Motorcoach travel is the greenest form of transportation and with most motorcoaches now having free Wi-Fi, plug-ins and luxury accommodations, our industry is seeing solid steady growth. It’s against this backdrop that Marketplace is coming to Grapevine, Texas,” said Peter J. Pantuso, President and CEO of the American Bus Association, the Washington, D.C.-based trade association that represents nearly 4,000 motorcoach companies, tour operators, hotels and other tourism professionals.
ABA Marketplace highlights include:
• The opportunity for motorcoach owners and operators to meet face-to-face with tour planners, hotels and CVBs to book millions of dollars’ worth of business.
• The Product Pavilion, where motorcoach manufacturers, affiliated vendors and other suppliers will have new tools and equipment on display for owners and operators to see, try out and potentially order.
• The ABA Foundation will host both a live and silent auction to raise money for industry research and scholarship initiatives. More than 140 items including resort vacations, signed celebrity memorabilia, group tour bookings, transmission parts, and backstage passes to the Grand Old Opry will be available for bid through Jan. 10. Additionally, the live auction of two brand new motorcoaches will generate some buzz among attendees on Jan. 7.
• A meeting of the Bus Industry Safety Council (BISC), where leading safety and security experts in the motorcoach industry discuss the best ways to make travel by motorcoach, already the safest form of surface transportation, even safer.
• There will also be a chance to meet and talk with high ranking government officials about motorcoach safety, including the Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Deborah Hersman and other top officials.
• Of critical importance to motorcoach owners and operators, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will hold a listening session on the motorcoach driver’s hours-of-service regulations during Marketplace 2012. Two sessions will be held on Jan. 9 at the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center in Grapevine.
• ABA Members will also assist a local non-profit, the Grapevine Relieve and Community Exchange (GRACE) with several service projects. GRACE demonstrates compassion for those less fortunate by providing assistance to individuals and families in crisis and guidance toward self-sufficiency. One of GRACE’s transitional housing units currently needs a new roof and our goal is provide one. The GRACE "Give Back" event will be held Jan. 5, from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
• Marketplace Gives Back volunteers will assist customers who stop by to donate items; sorting, hanging and tagging items to go directly to the families that GRACE serves and their missions. Additionally, volunteers will take a tour of GRACE’s transitional housing units and help wherever they can. The GRACE Donation Station is located at 203 West Nash Street in Grapevine.
• In addition to the business, there will also be entertainment for the members and their guests attending Marketplace including a number of tours, evening events and parties, including the "Marketplace Gives Back in Overtime" Event at Cowboys Stadium, and the ABA Foundation “Afterglow” fundraising event at the Hard Rock Dallas.
“We are very happy and excited to once again coming to Grapevine and the Gaylord Texan for this huge event. Our members have said many times they’re always treated so well at any Gaylord hotel and the Gaylord Texan is no exception. The Grapevine CVB, GRACE and everyone else who has helped organize and build Marketplace 2012 can’t wait to showcase more of that traditional Texas hospitality,” said Pantuso.