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tables and had people sit at tables based on specific criteria that we deter- mined in advance. The first grouping was based on type of supplier, and to give you an idea of the diversity, the members at the passenger-vessel table ranged from a family-owned boat in Alaska to Jodi from Norwegian Cruise Line. The second grouping was based on geography—Northeast, Southeast, Southwest, Midwest, etc.—and the final grouping was based on the number of full-time employees. Courier: How do you see this group moving forward? Berry: The consensus was that this net- work is needed. I saw a lot of business card exchanges, which I take as a great sign of connection. We are planning a program for the day after Contact, and we’ll also start a LinkedIn group for the Supplier Network. And I want to find a way to keep the discussion going on various topics, but we haven’t finalized anything yet. Lisa Itel, Travel Oregon DMO Network Courier: How did your group get started? Itel: In talking with owners about their network, and with NTA staff, I knew it would make sense for DMOs to organize ourselves, too. We see each other once a year at Travel Exchange, but things come up during the rest of the year. There are opportunities we’ve been missing that we can discover when we get together. Courier: What did you observe? Berry: First, the group discussions allowed for a lot of networking with people they probably would not have spoken with otherwise. And breaking into specific topics helped steer con- versations. Also, we created an environ- ment where people could have detailed discussions. Weather and its implica- tions was a popular topic when we broke up by region. I also heard the pas- senger vessel group talking about new laws and how those laws impact their sector of the industry. DMO Network I’ve been an NTA member for 28 years, and this is by far the single-best benefit that’s come along. —Mark Hoffmann, CTP, Sports Leisure Vacations Courier: How was your session in San Antonio structured? Itel: We had a designated topic—and a moderator—for each table, and attendees made their way to each topic around the room. The topics included partnerships, budgets and how to make the most of your NTA membership. The people at my table took a lot of notes and shared a lot of ideas. Courier: Was there anything that surprised you? Itel: The discussions themselves were surprising. I had envisioned that DMOs would sort of align according to the size of their destination and discuss their issues and successes. What I observed, though, was that large DMOs were learning from small DMOs and vice versa, and the idea sharing generated very positive take-aways for everyone. I was also surprised that the participants were so engaged with the topics, which was very exciting. Courier: What’s next for the DMO Network? Itel: The group will meet again in Charleston after Contact, and we are working on an online meeting as well. We have also started a platform on Facebook so people can communicate year-round. We now have a network of colleagues we can reach out to, and this will really fill a void that this segment of the industry has been looking for. This network is some- thing NTA does really well: Add a benefit I don’t have to pay for. Network nexts The Owners Network will meet March 23 in Washington, D.C., following Destination Capitol Hill. For details, contact Laurie Lincoln of Main Street Experiences, at laurie@ mainstreetexperiences.com. The DMO Network and Tour Supplier Network will meet April 22 in Charleston, South Carolina. Watch your inbox for information about registration— or contact Morgan Maravich at morgan.maravich@ntastaff.com to get details or to suggest topics for discussion. NTAonline.com 15