Tuesday, March 19, 2019

ABA Meeting The ABA show floor was packed with attendees The American Bus Association (ABA) held its annual Meeting & Marketplace from January 26-30 in Charlotte, N.C. Attracting over 3,400 attendees with its 2018 installment (including more than 1,000 motorcoach and tour operators), the conference aims to kick off the new year as a platform for ABA to provide networking, education, exhibition, purchasing, certification, and philanthropic opportunities to the bus and motorcoach world.

Meetings are a significant component of the five-day event, and the ABA Annual Meeting on Saturday was just one opportunity for the greater community to come together for an update about both the past year and what lies ahead. Various regional associations, boards, committees, and councils embraced this unifying opportunity to bring their far-flung members together to face-to-face discussions over the course of the conference.

ABA Meeting UMA President and CEO Stacy Tetschner (left) with ABA President & CEO Peter Pantuso During the annual meeting, ABA announced its 2018 board ­officers:

Chairman of the Board: Don DeViVo of DATTCO in New Britain, Conn.
Vice Chairman of the Board: Gene Berardi of Adirondack Trailways in Hurley, N.Y.
Immediate Past Chairman: John Meier of Badger Coaches in Madison, Wis.
Treasurer: John Miller of Miller Transportation in Louisville, Ky.

Additionally, Mike Dickson of Southeastern Stages in Atlanta, Ga., and AJ Kinney of Great Day Tours and Charter Bus Service in Cleveland, Ohio, were voted to three-year terms; Nicole Twigg of Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau in Louisville, Ky., was voted to a one-year term; and Kim Grzywaczof CIT Signature Transportation in Ames, Iowa, was appointed a one-year term as the 2019 ABA Marketplace Chairman.

ABA Meeting One of the buses at TEMSA's booth "ABA recently went through a strategic planning routine and have mapped out the next three years for the association and how we service our members and the industry," said ABA President & CEO Peter Pantuso. "These new officers and board members will play a key role in helping ABA continuing being the most respected and valued motorcoach, travel, and tourism association and I look forward to working with all of these dedicated professionals."

ABA Meeting With educational sessions, speakers, and workshops accounting for a significant part of the conference, ABA offered more than 50 seminars led by an array of speakers and industry experts alike. Its breakout-session program was divided into three tracks: Professional Development, Technology, and Sales and Marketing. Short informational sessions on the showroom floor, safety education from ABA's Bus Industry Safety Council, maintenance and operations education, legislative updates, webinars, and certifications all rounded out the spate of learning opportunities to be found in the Charlotte conference.

Keynote Speaker Steve Miller shared his nontraditional approach to marketing and branding. Miller, whose book Uncopyable takes its name from his business philosophy, told attendees about his formula for helping companies—including some among the Fortune 100—separate themselves from their competition to grow as entrepreneurs and find success.

ABA Meeting ABA's Bus Industry Safety Council met during the conference The beating heart of the conference is its fundraising work, and this year was no exception. The philanthropic initiative ABA Gives Back has raised money every year for a charity based in the conference's host city since 2007; thanks to attendees' generosity, ABA Gives Back has raised more than $347,000 in the past decade. This year's beneficiary was the Isabella Santos Foundation, which was established in 2009 in honor of its young namesake, who succumbed to the neuroblastoma she battled for five years since her diagnosis at age 2. The foundation has donated more than $1.5 million to neuroblastoma cancer research and children's cancer charities in search of a cure, and ABA members raised another $25,085 to support its passionate mission.

Up next for ABA is its Capitol Hill Flyover Days in Washington, D.C., which it will host in conjunction with the United Motorcoach Association April 10-11. The 2019 ABA Meeting & Marketplace will be Jan. 25-29 in Louisville, Ky.

Visit buses.org for more information.   [CD0318]