New Association Aims to Support Small Destination Experience Operators

A new global association has been founded to unite and support small, independent Destination Experience Operators (DEOs) from around the world. These include providers of local tours (such as food, wine and city tours), venues, activities, and other experiences in a destination. Group Tour Professionals (GTP) will provide education, professional development and networking opportunities, resources and exposure for these operators.

Group Tour Professionals was founded by the same people who successfully launched and have grown the International Association of Tour Directors and Guides (IATDG), an association that primarily serves tour managers/directors and guides, into one of the largest professional associations of its kind.

Like IATDG, GTP promises to be completely free until it can prove its value to members, which boasts serving its membership with free resources and one the most affordable conferences in the industry. “We wouldn’t dream of charging operators for membership for a new association. As operators ourselves, we know we wouldn’t pay for something until we knew there were benefits. Right now, operators need more support, not more invoices,” says Adam Connolly, Director of Development.

The association will offer benefits such as:

  • A 100% free directory to match potential customers with operators;
  • Group insurance benefits;
  • Mentoring opportunities for new and struggling DEOs;
  • An affordable annual conference focused on business and professional development;
  • Promotion assistance for members;
  • The TourTrap videocast, focused on addressing business issues operators face;
  • And much more.

GTP is also offering a startup scholarship to provide one aspiring entrepreneur with regular mentoring, a place on a business startup course, and $500 (USD) towards starting their business. The purpose is to highlight the journey of the new entrepreneur, so other businesses can learn along the way. The program will also offer a cash stipend to established DEOs to assist in mentoring these startups.

Applications are open at Group Tour Professionals. The deadline is Aug. 15, 2020.

The World Travel and Tourism council predict there will be $197.5 million in tourism job losses in 2020. “We have seen some larger operators close their doors during this crisis. In the ‘new world’ of travel, with the right support, I believe these local experience operators will play a far more significant role. We’d love to help them come out of this pandemic thriving and in great shape to tackle 2021,” Connolly said.