ETC’s 30 Year Evolution
A Timeline

Photo of J. Mara DelliPriscoli

Founded ETC in 1987 by J. Mara DelliPriscoli, President of Travel Learning Connections, Inc., as an educational resource to support nonprofits in travel, ETC continues to maintain its service-oriented and collaborative philosophy, which is one of its hallmarks today.

The Educational Travel Consortium (ETC) is a membership organization dedicated to promoting lifelong learning through travel and advancing the field of alumni and affinity travel. ETC and its annual Signature Conference offer professional development, mentoring, and networking opportunities for the travel planners at alumni associations, zoos, museums, cultural, and conservation organizations who are responsible for the planning, management and/or marketing of alumni, member, and donor travel programs, as well as the tour operators, travel suppliers and country/regional destinations serving this sector of special-interest and lifelong-learning group travel.

ETC’s Signature Conference is the world’s only travel industry meeting to bring this exclusive group of professionals together, under one roof, for several packed days of outstanding educational sessions, keynotes, and collegial roundtables designed to address a variety of critical and timely topics, as well as skills workshops, networking opportunities, and special events. A major focus is on product development, particularly in the areas of cultural, as well as conservation-related, customized itineraries.

Winter 1986


Mara DelliPriscoli incorporates Travel Leisure Consultants (TLC), in Washington, D.C.


•First Nonprofits in Travel Conference (NPTC) convenes in March at the Wyndham Bristol Hotel, Washington, D.C.
•1.5-day conference with optional pre-conference half day “how to’s” workshop and one track of plenary sessions focusing on Insurance, Legal, Postal, Promotion, Best Program Models, Domestic Travel sessions
•The Advisory Committee is formed with 10 professionals


•Conference grows to 2 days and offers affinity breakout sessions, as well as a post-conference half-day optional tour to the Smithsonian
•The opening plenary is titled “Travel in Turbulent Times”


•Conference holds its first official embassy-sponsored venues at the Indonesian Embassy (hosted by NATRABU and Garuda Airlines)
•The first destination briefing is held on the Netherlands (hosted by Netherlands Board of Tourism and KLM Airlines)
•Tour Operators/Vendors are excluded from conference sessions but are invited to a small networking party
•The precursor to the official Jumpstart Seminar is launched as a full day pre-conference program focusing on the nuts and bolts of nonprofit travel
•First Travel Supplier Resource Directory is published
•The Conference receives institutional endorsements over the course of eight years to help it get established. The initial institutional endorsers were: The Denver Museum of Natural History (Diana Lee Crew), Cal Alumni Association (Carolyn Sheaff), The Sierra Club (John DeCock), Witte Museum (Ian McCord), Alumni Association of the University of Michigan (Linda Rains)

(From left): Jim Friedlander and Roberta Moore enjoy a break at the 2010 Executive Advisory Council Meeting, Gateway Canyons, Colo.; The Mexico Tourism Board and the Yucatan hosted a cultural performance at ETC 2006; Business relationships and friendships begin in the International Bazaar.


A New Decade

• Tour Operators are invited to NPTC for a half day of post-conference sessions in which partnership issues were discussed
•NPTC provides a “Resource Corridor” offering Tour Operators the option of providing, “in writing,” information on their companies for Travel Planners
•First ecotourism sessions offered
•First NPTC Educationals announced with the Netherlands Board of Tourism and KLM Airlines and with the Scandinavian Tourism Boards and SAS Airlines
•First Organizational Profiles featured


•TLC office moves to Montana
•Conference grows to 2.5 days
•Conference “Resource Corridor” expands to “Resource Room,” where Travel Planners can pick up Tour Operators’ brochures
•First-time opportunity for Travel Planners and Tour Operators to schedule one-to-one business meetings
•First advocacy session on Postal Issues and UBIT—”Mobilize for Action”
•The term “Educational Travel” is added to NPTC’s focus
•First year NPTC brochure was mailed to both Travel Planners and Tour Operators, Suppliers, and Destinations; Tour Operators enjoyed a full day of Conference programming

More Expansion

• Tour Operators are invited to NPTC for a half day of post-conference sessions in which partnership issues were discussed
•NPTC provides a “Resource Corridor” offering Tour Operators the option of providing, “in writing,” information on their companies for Travel Planners
•First ecotourism sessions offered
•First NPTC Educationals announced with the Netherlands Board of Tourism and KLM Airlines and with the Scandinavian Tourism Boards and SAS Airlines
•First Organizational Profiles featured


•First full day of ecotourism programming is offered
•Conference grows to 4 days. The tagline reads: “The only travel conference which focuses exclusively on nonprofit special interest in educational travel programs, issues, opportunities, and concerns.”
•NPTC Coalition Resource Center is launched

(From left): Delegates at ETC 2009 get into the fun of a crepes cooking competition; Attendee speaker and Emeritus Council member Alicia Stevens.


Fit to Print

•Conference moves from D.C. to the DoubleTree Hotel in Arlington, Va.
•The NET (Network for Educational Travel) is announced offering informational and educational services year-round
•The conference tagline changes to “the World’s Only Major Educational Travel Conference, Development, and Training Institute Focused Exclusively on Nonprofit Travel”
•First Conference Resource Directory (CRD) is printed


•The tagline for the conference is changed to “promoting partnerships”
•Two and a half days of joint programming between Travel Planners and Tour Operators/Suppliers
•A pre-conference day is offered on ecotourism: “Re-engineering the Ecotourism Equation”
•NET changes to “Travel Learning Connections” and is described as a “clearinghouse and resource hotline for nonprofit travel planners”
•The first NPTC technology forum is held as a post-conference day. Among the topics covered: software and messaging via e-mail.

World Wide Web

•The first year ETC gets an email account ( and its own website (
•First year of fully integrated programming between Travel Planners and Tour Operators/Suppliers
•The first Responsible Tourism programming focuses on issues and ethics
•Post-Conference Technology Seminars are offered


•NPTC tagline changes to “Advancing the Field of Educational Travel”
•A Travel-Planner-only listserv is promoted


The Resource Room of Tour Operators’ printed materials grows into a larger exhibit space with tabletop displays (the precursor to the International Bazaar)

Regional Roundtables

•NPTC tagline changes to “For Market Leaders in Lifelong Learning and Travel”
•Programming is organized by tracks for the first time
•NPTC website becomes known as the “Educational Travel Alliance,” and its website is
•Conference benefits now include being part of the Educational Travel Alliance
•First year online registration is offered
•First time the “BiZ Passport” is published
•NPTC proposes launching a forum dedicated to Environmental, Cultural, Heritage, and Arts Tourism

Each year ETC members are invited to Programming Regional Roundtables held across the U.S. in order to help shape the annual Conference; pictured here is the ETC Programming Roundtable in San Francisco, 2009.

New Millenium

•Conference moves back to D.C.
•”Educational Travel Roundtable” is launched
•A “Millennium Council” is convened with 50 members of the educational travel community representing Travel Planners, Tour Operators, Suppliers, and Destinations to discuss the initiatives and goals of the community
•Website address changes to


•Travel Leisure Consultants becomes Travel Learning Connections
•Silent Charity Auction debuts as a fundraiser for ETC’s Tourism as a Passport to Peace Millennium Project
•The Partnership Marketplace is launched featuring the Partners’ Boulevard—described as “a balanced mix of commerce and discovery.”
•First Partnership Dinner, “Arabian Nights,” marks the start of the Community Dinner tradition, where Suppliers, Operators, and Destinations collaboratively host a conference-wide dinner
•The Responsible Tourism Showcase debuts

Hitting the Road

•Conference moves to Los Angeles
•Major re-branding of the conference from NPTC to the Educational Travel Conference. Attendees requested a name change that would exemplify the focus of their profession—educational travel—and be inclusive of all conference attendees.
•ETC’s tagline becomes “specially designed for providers of educational travel”
•ETC’s website is
•First Seminar on Wheels (SOW) is offered


•Conference returns to Washington, D.C.
•First electronic Conference Resource Directory is produced
•First Marketing Institutes convene
•First launch of the community website at

The ETC Educational to Jordan in 2004


•The official International Bazaar debuts
•Emeritus Council is launched at the Executive Advisory Council Mid-Year Planning Meeting held in Montana
•First Voluntourism Forum is offered
•Speed Networking is offered for the first time
•Nancy Arsenault convenes a focus group at the conference and works with the ETC to produce the first definitive piece of industry-wide research conducted and published for the Educational Travel Community: “Defining Tomorrow’s Tourism Products for Learning Travelers” (Research was sponsored by Radisson Seven Seas, TLC, Learning Thru Leisure, and the Canadian Tourism Commission)

New Era

•First Destination Jumpstart is offered
•Phase I of ETC’s community website is launched signaling a new era for travel planner training. It features one password for access by delegates. (Launch supported by Academic Arrangements Abroad, American Cruise Lines, Canadian Tourism Commission, Costa Rica Educational and Cultural Adventures, International Seminar Design, Israel Government Tourist Office, Japan National Tourist Organizations and the Wales Tourism Board)

Digital Library

•Conference moves to Baltimore, Md.
•First Executive Forum is offered
•First MAC and NACZ all-day forums convene
•Phase II of ETC’s website is launched with a digital asset library and resource center (Sponsored by Canadian Tourism Commission, Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism, New Brunswick Tourism and Parks, Travel Alberta, Tourism British Columbia, Via Rail)

Education Travel

•Conference tagline is “the premier event for Educational Travel”
•First Town Hall session offered
•First CEO Roundtable convened
•Passport Game launched in International Bazaar

The hard work and intense collaboration of planning each ETC Conference begins at the annual Executive Advisory Council Meeting. Pictured here is the EAC meeting in Dubai, 2008.

Responsible Tourism

•Conference tagline is “The Founding Conference for Alumni, Museum, Zoo, and Conservation Travel and Nonprofit Educational Travel”
•The First Responsible Tourism Intensive is held
•First Voluntourism Experience is offered
•ETC Online Focus Groups convenes at conference to launch Phase III of the website; report produced from these on site focus groups sets the priorities for the enhanced website.


•Conference moves to New Orleans
•Phase III of the new Educational Travel Community Website is launched with member dashboards (Sponsored by Asia Now – Japan National Tourist Office, Hong Kong Tourism Board, Tourism Authority of Thailand, Macau Government Tourist Office, Korea Tourism Organization, Singapore Tourism Board, Tourism Malaysia)
•First Virtual Membership, with year-round access to online resources


•Conference moves to Rhode Island
•First run of the DOS Jumpstart: Selling to the U.S. Educational Market
•Business Connect is launched
•The first domestic ETC Educational is offered

East Coast

•Conference returns to Rhode Island


•Conference moves to Orlando


•Conference returns to Orlando
•ETC launches new MEMBER site with interactive features

Sunshine State

•Conference returns to Orlando

Let it snow!

•Conference moves to Boston for record snowfall!