Destinations

On the Road

An Amazing Marketplace in an Amazing City

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Many of the comments I received about this year’s Marketplace in Nashville, Tenn., were a fervent “The event was amazing!” And why wouldn’t it be? Held Jan. 13–16 at Music City Center, Marketplace saw more operators taking business appointments than ever before (with over 300 operators on the business floor), more than 1,000 motorcoach and tour operators under one roof, nearly 3,000 attendees from every part of North America and overseas, and the most sponsors ever at more than 120. For more statistics and highlights, including award winners and sponsors, turn to the cover story on page 8. 

The success of Marketplace can first be attributed to the attendees, who made every aspect of the show special and memorable. The event also received a boost by being held in one of the hottest destinations in the world: Nashville. Thank you to the team at the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp and its amazing partners from across the region— including Opry Entertainment Group, who sponsored a once-in-a-lifetime all-delegate evening event at the Ryman Auditorium. Last but certainly not least, ABA’s staff worked tirelessly under the leadership of ABA’s Vice President of Meetings, Vicki Osman, who pulled it all together. 

ABA’s councils convened in Nashville and exchanged ideas and insights. If you haven’t joined a council yet, you can learn more about them at buses.org/councils. Rest assured, there’s a council for everyone. 

This issue of Destinations is packed with articles about group-friendly experiences you will want to make sure are on your travel bucket list. In “Group Adventures Start in Pigeon Forge” on page 18, you’ll learn all about this amazing travel destination in the heart of the Smoky Mountains. Last fall, I had the opportunity to visit Pigeon Forge and was blown away by the growth of the community since the last time I was there many years ago. While the entire region rocks, Pigeon Forge is uniquely positioned as the keystone for groups touring eastern Tennessee thanks to the leadership of Leon Downey, executive director of the Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism, and the excellent team there. 

Other destinations featured in this issue include Grand Rapids, Mich.; Lake Placid, N.Y.; the Virginia Arts Festival and Virginia International Tattoo; and a musical journey through the breathtaking landscapes, history, and culture of some of our great states in the West. 

We are only a few months into 2024, so be sure and take advantage of other events slated for members, including Women in Buses Council education webinars; Bus Safety and Maintenance Council meetings in Orlando, Fla.; opportunities to connect with ABA’s staff at industry and state association events; and more. 

As always, if I can be of assistance, email me at ppantuso@buses.org or call (202) 218-7229. 

Sincerely,

PETER J. PANTUSO, CTIS 

President & CEO 

Follow Pete on Twitter at @PantusoPeter 

ppantuso@buses.org 

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