The Pennsylvania Bus Association is gearing up for its annual conference during the organization’s centennial in Chautauqua County, New York
Nearly 200 attendees are expected to attend the conference, which runs Sunday, June 18 – Wednesday, June 21. The itinerary includes educational sessions, keynote presentations and industry networking, along with opportunities to experience local attractions, restaurants and retailers.
PBA Executive Director Patricia Cowley has worked to fill the event with lots of extras that will help travel and tourism professionals build their skills and make valuable connections within the industry and fellow members.
“We look forward to bringing our bus company owners, group tour operators, travel suppliers, vendors and many others together for four days of education and networking — and to experience beautiful Chautauqua County and Lucille Ball’s hometown, from the Chautauqua Harbor Hotel to the National Comedy Center to Chautauqua Institution and so much more,” Cowley said. PBA’s conference theme is “Keeping Your Sense of Humor in Business!”
The Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau, in partnership with the National Comedy Center, Chautauqua Harbor Hotel, and Chautauqua Institution, and support from Chautauqua County, won the bid to host the conference, beating out other major East Coast communities
Experiencing region’s attractions
The conference will provide many opportunities for its members and other attendees to explore Chautauqua County’s attractions, hotels, restaurants, and retailers, setting the stage for significant growth in group tour bookings within the county by the motorcoach owners and group tour operators attending the event.
“The Pennsylvania Bus Association’s annual conference is one of the most important events in the country for motorcoach and group tour operators,” said Andrew Nixon, President and CEO of the Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau. “We are thrilled to have this unique opportunity – as the association celebrates its 100th anniversary – to showcase what Chautauqua County has to offer as an outstanding group tour destination.”
The Chautauqua Harbor Hotel will be the host hotel for meetings and events, with additional attendees staying at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Jamestown due to overflow needs. The opening night welcome event, with evening cruises on the Chautauqua Belle, will be hosted by the Chautauqua Institution at the Athenaeum Hotel. A neighborhood “dine-around” evening will enable attendees to dine at local restaurants in Jamestown and Bemus Point.
The closing night event will be a private dinner party at the National Comedy Center. Four “familiarization tours” will enable attendees to explore Lake Erie Wine Country, the Dunkirk Lighthouse, Grape Discovery Center, the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum, the Roger Tory Peterson Institute, the Robert H. Jackson Center and the Northwest Arena, as well as a nature walk and bus tour of the Chautauqua Institution grounds. There will also be Yoga, on International Yoga Day, Kayaking on the Lake and Walking Around the Lake activities in the morning.
Discussing best practices
Educational sessions throughout the conference will offer best practices and the latest techniques for travel and tourism professionals and motor coach business leaders, including:
- “Top Moves to Make Right Now in Social Media,” with Sheila Scarborough.
- “Sales Ninja 101” best practices, with Nicole Boyer.
- “The Comedy-Code,” with Cindy Aronson.
There will also be industry updates by American Bus Association President and CEO Peter Pantuso and United Motorcoach Association President and CEO Scott Michael, and a keynote presentation by award-winning comedian, actor, producer and master storyteller Don Reed.
Sales retreat opportunities will allow group tour and bus operator members to meet with representatives of attractions and destinations on a one-on-one basis, while the industry exposition will allow operators to meet with representatives from companies that service the bus industry, such as bus manufacturers, insurance, seating and technology. (The full itinerary is available here.)
“This is the biggest travel and tourism conference ever to come to Chautauqua County, and such a wonderful opportunity for all of us to showcase the amazing attractions, hotels, and restaurants that we can offer tour operators looking for new and unique experiences for their groups,” said Gary Hahn, Vice President of Marketing and Communications at the National Comedy Center and board member of the Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau and PBA. “I have no doubt that group tour bookings will grow throughout the county in the coming years as a result of this event.”