PBA holds first-ever Group Leader Marketplace in Berks County

The Pennsylvania Bus Association (PBA) held its popular Group Leader Marketplace on March 27-28 in Berks County. 

The PBA team, the Pennsylvania’s Americana Region Visitors Bureau, the Holiday Inn Morgantown and the Classic Auto Mall collaborated on the event, which showcased Berks County’s many tourism assets and attractions to PBA member tour operators and tour bus companies.

In total, over 600 group leaders on 17 motorcoaches, plus four tour companies, visited over 100 travel and tourism booths that showcased their offerings. 

Alison Klein Sherman, President of Klein Transportation, says she appreciated seeing the event hosted in Berks County where her family business is located. 

“The group leaders are excited to be traveling and were busy gathering information for their upcoming trips,” said Sherman, adding, “It was also nice for me to see the event hosted in our local area in hopes of groups returning here in the future. I heard from many of the attractions and DMO’s in attendance that the group leaders were genuinely engaged in the information they were receiving.”

The Pennsylvania Bus Association (PBA) held its popular Group Leader Marketplace on March 27-28 in Berks County. (PBA)

Pennsylvania’s Americana Region was selected because of the many FAM tour opportunities for the groups. The area is a popular destination for motorcoach groups and is easily accessible to Pennsylvania and the surrounding states. 

Event-filled agenda

During the two-day event, PBA held its Board of Directors meeting, a Tourism Seminar facilitated by Lois Stoltzfus, a networking reception, an award presentation, Dine-Around night, a breakfast briefing, and the main event, the Marketplace. 

“PBA Marketplace is so important to us as a company,” said Bob Mock, with Bollman Charter Service, adding that his business picked up significant work at the event.

The networking reception welcomed all registered guests prior to Dine-Around night. The event featured PBA’s annual Driver & Employee of Distinction awards, a magic show by Magic & Wonder, local vendors offering samples of beer, wine and food, and a special cake and cupcakes marking the PBA’s 100th anniversary.

Sandy Stewart, of Elite Coach, says the only complaint from her Group Leaders was they wished they had more time at Marketplace.

“I’m already working on trips for this year and next year based on vendors my Group Leaders visited at Marketplace,” Stewarts shared with PBA.

PBA has been holding Marketplace for over 25 years in destinations across Pennsylvania. The event brings travel suppliers together with motorcoach operators and group tour leaders looking for new and exciting destinations to visit.

Happy Valley is next host

At the breakfast briefing, Patricia Cowley, PBA’s executive director, announced the Board’s selection of the winning bid for the 2024 Marketplace. The Happy Valley Adventure Bureau will host the event and use the Nittany Sports Arena for the trade show. (View photos from this year’s event.)

PBA, a nonprofit trade association, provides venues for their motorcoach members to promote group travel with various functions each year, including Marketplace, and is actively involved in legislative issues, assisting members with various industry concerns. 

PBA is currently accepting bids for 2025 events. Those interested in submitting a bid can download the specs from the PBA website. The deadline to submit for each event is Jan. 1, 2024.


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