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New Association Aims to Support Small Tour Operators with Von Harden

A few weeks ago I received a press release informing us about the launch of a new association for small tour operators. On this episode of Tourpreneur the podcast for tour operators, I hopped on a call with Von Harden of Group Tour Professionals to find out more.

You may remember a few weeks back I issued a clarion call asking if needed a tour operator association for small to medium sized tour operators. Since releasing that episode on the Tourpreneur Podcast, I have been contacted by people who are working on creating one. So I was intrigued by Group Tour Professionals and keen to find out more.

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 for the scholarship start up are open at Group Tour Professionals. The deadline is Aug. 15, 2020.


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