Annual motor coach conference hosted by county groups

The Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau and local hotels and attractions will be hosting the Pennsylvania Bus Association’s annual conference this June as the organization celebrates its 100th anniversary. Close to 200 attendees – including motor coach company owners and senior management, and group tour operators — are expected to visit the county June 18 through 21 for educational sessions, keynote presentations and industry networking, along with key opportunities to experience local attractions, restaurants, and retailers.

One of the leading motor coach operator associations in the country, the Pennsylvania Bus Association is a nonprofit organization with over 750 member businesses dedicated to representing the interests of private bus companies operating in Pennsylvania, promoting travel by motorcoach, and use of tour and charter services provided by operator members in cooperation with its travel industry supplier members.The Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau, in partnership with the National Comedy Center, Chautauqua Harbor Hotel, and Chautauqua Institution, and support from Chautauqua County, prepared a bid for this major bus and group tour operator conference in January 2022 and the county was selected by the association from competitive bids by major cities and counties in Pennsylvania, New York state, and elsewhere.

The PBA annual 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 motor coach owners and group tour operators attending the four-day event.

“The Pennsylvania Bus Association’s annual conference is one of the most important events in the country for motor coach and group tour operators,” stated 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.”

“Our members are very excited to be heading to Chautauqua County next month for our annual conference,” stated Patricia Cowley, Pennsylvania Bus Association Executive Director. “We look forward to bringing our bus company owners, group tour operators, travel suppliers 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. We hope local travel and tourism professionals will join us, so that they can build their skills and make valuable connections within our industry.”

The Chautauqua Harbor Hotel will serve as the host hotel for conference meetings and events, with additional attendees staying at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Jamestown. The opening night welcome event will be hosted by the Chautauqua Institution at the Athenaeum Hotel with evening cruises on the Chautauqua Belle. A neighborhood “dine-around” evening will enable attendees to dine at local restaurants in Jamestown, Bemus Point or Mayville. The closing night event will be a private dinner party at the National Comedy Center. “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 guided bus tour of the Chautauqua Institution grounds.

Education 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, along with an 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 enable group tour and bus operator members to meet with attractions and destinations (travel suppliers) on a one-on-one basis, while the industry exposition will allow operators to meet with companies that service the bus industry (bus manufacturers, insurance, seating, technology, etc.). The full itinerary is available here: Annual Meeting 2023 (pabus.org).

“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,” stated Gary Hahn, Vice President of Marketing and Communications at the National Comedy Center, and board member of the Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau and the Pennsylvania Bus Association. “I have no doubt that group tour bookings will grow throughout the county in the coming years as a result of this event.”

Regional and local travel and tourism professionals are encouraged to attend the conference to benefit from educational sessions and networking opportunities. Membership in the Pennsylvania Bus Association is not required. Registration is open until June 2, 2023. Full details are available here: Calendar (pabus.org).


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