Annual Conference FAQs for DOS

General Information About ETC

Q: Where can I find the Conference’s schedule of events?  The  Conference Agenda is updated frequently six months prior and up to the Conference.  Check often for updates!

Q: How do I register for ETC’s Annual Conference?  ETC’s Conference is for members only. You can become a member at any time.

Members, log in to your member dashboard and click on the registration button on your task manager.  If your membership is expiring or has lapsed, you can pay for your annual membership with your conference registration.

Nonmembers, join now! Once your membership is approved you can register for the conference on your task manager located on your member dashboard.

Registration typically opens in early September and registration limits are capped by constituent type, so register early.   Check out conference rates and constituent classifications.

Discounted registration rates are provided to all delegates booking a minimum three-night stay at the Conference hotel within the official block at the Conference hotel rate.

Q: How do I pay?   You can pay for membership at any time or you may pay for both membership renewal and conference registration on one invoice. ETC accepts payment by check and credit card (a convenience fee applies.)

Q: Can I register more than two people from my organization or company?  Maintaining a positive balance of Travel Planner registrations to Destinations, Tour Operators, and Suppliers registrations is key to productive networking.

There is a two-person registration limit per tour operator, supplier, and destination company/organization registration. And both individuals must work within the same company/organization.

For 30 years the Conference Organizer has preserved the integrity of this constituent mix by setting and adhering to caps on Destinations, Tour Operator, and Supplier registrations in direct proportion to the numbers of planners registered.

This registration policy ensures a well-balanced ratio of 1 to 2 travel planners to tour operators, suppliers and destinations and delivers one of the most productive networking platforms in the travel industry.

In recognition of their conference-wide sponsorship and underwriting of conference meals, events, sessions and collateral materials benefiting all delegates, official ETC sponsoring partners are extended the exclusive benefit option of registering additional delegates based on their sponsorship level. Learn more about becoming an official sponsor at ETC’s Signature Conference.

Q: I represent a large tour company with many separate subsidiaries. How do I ensure my subsidiaries are represented?  To ensure equity of registration fees for all delegates, and to provide a detailed marketing profile for each subsidiary, the parent company and subsidiaries must register under their own company names. One tabletop display desk and sign is then assigned to each company. Upon request, parent and subsidiary companies may be grouped together in the International Bazaar for branding and convenience purposes. Please request this group placement prior to the conference organizer via email.

Q: Can I share a badge with someone in my company or organization?   To preserve equity in registration fees, Conference policy precludes badge sharing. Each delegate is provided their own personalized badge for conference access.

Q: Why do I need to wear my Conference badge?   For your protection, privacy, and general Conference security purposes, badges are required to be visible at all times to enter Conference sessions, events and the International Bazaar.  Conference management reserves the right to ask you to show your badge when you are in the International Bazaar or upon entry to sessions and evening events.

Any individual not officially registered for ETC will not have a badge. Registered delegates are asked to refrain from doing business on site with any individual not displaying an official Conference badge as their presence would be at the direct expense of registered delegates whose paid registration fees make this Conference possible. This also includes “badgeless” representatives who have not personally registered but may have their company/organization represented already with two delegates at the Conference.

Q: What happens if I lose my Badge or Conference Resource Directory?   Lost badges may be replaced but at a substantial fee so please keep track of your badges on site. In the event a replacement badge is requested, the following applies: Delegates must pay the badge replacement fee, complete and sign a Conference Replacement Badge Request Form, and allow two hours for badge processing/approval.

To conserve paper, and printing costs, replacement Conference Resource Directories (CRD) are not available on site. ETC members can access the e-Conference Resource Directory online post-conference. This post Conference e-Directory includes a listing of all late registrants.

Q: Can I get the attendee lists in advance of the conference?   In past years significant numbers of unsolicited promotional emails and mass mailed marketing pieces were being sent to travel planners in advance of the Conference which had a negative impact.  As a result, at the direct and explicit request of travel planners, registration lists are not provided to each and every delegate prior to the Conference.

However, paid delegates with completed member and organizational profiles can view a list of attendees/organizations with completed profiles via the online CONNECTS meeting scheduler. This online tool is accessible at least one month prior to the Conference.

Only official sponsoring partners receive advance delegate lists as a benefit of their partnership support. Learn more about becoming an official sponsor at ETC’s Signature Conference.

Q: Why do I need to fill out/update a member and an organizational profile by published deadlines?   Organizational profiles and member profiles are very important to complete as they serve to identify the key priorities you require when doing business with partners. A side benefit is that reviewing profiles allows you to filter out potential connections that are not aligned with your interests and operations.

Profiles also provide a way for planners year round to quickly peruse the member database in search of potential vendors well-matched to their current needs or program focus, and vice versa.  Each organizational profile was designed by the member group aligned with their specific profile – Planners, Operators, Suppliers, or Destinations.  When first completing an organizational profile it takes a bit of concentrated time. Each year however, it takes only a few minutes to update 3-4 questions which require annual updates.  Member profiles need to be filled out only once with updates upon personal election.

Conference Protocol

Q: What is the ETC policy regarding invitational and private parties/hospitality suites by delegates and companies, and why is the policy in place?

 Official ETC sponsors only are extended the exclusive benefit of convening – at specified times where published officially in the agenda – private invitational breakfast roundtables, cocktail parties, and dinners.

The hosting by general delegates and/or companies/organizations of private parties, pre-planned invitational dinners, receptions and hospitality suites during the times on the official agenda listing sessions and venues serve to erode the collegial spirit of the ETC community, and conflict with the officially highlighted venues by sponsors which are offered to the benefit all attendees.

The Conference Organizer reserves the right to cancel current and decline future registration of all companies and delegates operating in violation of this protocol. No refunds will be made for violators wherein the protocol is strictly in place.

Q: How can my organization sponsor a venue at the Conference?  Find sponsorship opportunities or email.

Q: Do I need to attend a ticketed event after signing up for it on the registration form?  Help ETC be a responsible meeting! The Conference Organizer confirms meals and seats solely based on the number of tickets requested by delegates on their registration form. Once food guarantees are given to the venue/hotel in advance of the conference, cancellations are not an option.  And once food is served on event buffet tables it must be discarded if not eaten.

Hosted by ETC sponsors at great expense, the ticketed evening meal venues typically cost sponsors $95+ per person. Delegates who therefore sign up for a ticket but then decide to “no show” at the event necessitate significant loss of revenue for the hosts as well as unnecessary food overages. Precluded by health codes, the hotel cannot then distribute food overages to homeless shelters.

Q: What is the dress code during the Conference?  Business casual during the entire Conference, and festive attire during the evening events. On occasion, a very casual attire is noted on specific events.

International Bazaar & Partners’ Boulevard at the Annual Conference

Q: What is the International Bazaar?   The International Bazaar is the space within the conference venue where delegates have the opportunity to review, connect, and compare educational travel offerings with a diverse selection of special interest, educational and affinity based purveyors of travel. Destination, operator and supplier delegates are assigned their individual tabletop within the Bazaar and the delegate Biz Passport lists their tabletop numbers

*ETC’s Annual Conference is NOT a tradeshow. The International Bazaar serves as an interactive platform for educating delegates about destinations, program development, and sharing to ensure a cross pollination of ideas – and for connecting with established as well as new partners in travel.

Q: What and Where is Partners’ Boulevard   Partners’ Boulevard is the most centrally located and heavily trafficked display space in the International Bazaar reserved for official ETC Conference Sponsors displays. The size of exhibit space assigned on Partners’ Boulevard is awarded to Sponsors according to the level of their sponsorship investment. All sponsors have the option of displaying colorful popups and promotional items showcasing their product/destination offerings. Interested in becoming a sponsor?  Contact

Q: When is the International Bazaar open?   The Conference program lists official days/times for the International Bazaar. It is important that all representatives are situated at their desktop displays during the official hours of the International Bazaar, as posted on the Bazaar Agenda. The International Bazaar is closed when educational sessions are being offered. It is recommended that all representatives attend the educational sessions as scheduled.

Q: What does my desktop display space include and where is it located?  Your exhibit investment is affordable because we preclude the fanfare and give you the basic tools you need to create an effective presence at ETC. All exhibitors are provided a simple, turnkey display setup:

    • 1 desktop display table with tablecloth
    • 2-4 chairs
    • Company pre-printed tabletop sign

The simple tabletop display space provided, which consists of a tablecloth, drapery, and uniform signage, levels the playing field for all exhibitors—large and small.  Plus there is no need to spend huge sums of money shipping large display units in an attempt to compete with others. This minimalist approach allows delegates to invest their funds in what really counts: an opportunity to meet with partners conveniently, display tabletop brochures, provide introductions, share information, and facilitate long-term partnerships within the educational travel community. However, if you wish to bring your corporate tabletop covering (5′ wide, 16″ deep), this might be a nice accent for your tabletop.  If you want more space in the Bazaar and/or wish to have pop up banners and audio/visual support and/or electricity, this is a benefit option awarded to sponsors only.

Q: Can I share a tabletop display with another company?  No. The registration protocol for all attending suppliers is one company assigned per tabletop in the International Bazaar. As part of the first person registration fee, each company receives one tabletop display table, chairs and signage along with the opportunity to feature their organizational profile online, key to enhancing marketing exposure and recognition at the ETC meeting, both on site and year round online.

Q: What kind of promotional materials should I bring?  Tabletop displays in the International Bazaar are limited to promotional brochures and portfolios that lie flat on the tabletops. Suggested display materials are any flat items such as brochures, printed handouts, and business cards. Less is better, as visitors to the International Bazaar do not pick up vast amounts of literature given weight restrictions by airlines.

If you take brochures, it is recommended to limit the numbers to 50 of each type, and only those that are targeted, rather than generalized, for this affinity and educational travel market niche. Some seasoned exhibitors at ETC do not take more than 25 types of each brochure, and have shared that it is best to mail information as a follow-up to meetings with colleagues. Other exhibitors do not take any brochures and simply provide flash drives with digital information avoiding paper consumption.

Q: Can I bring pop-up displays and promotional backdrops for my company?   Aside from bringing your own branded or colorful tabletop covering, all pop-up banners, posters, portable kiosks, large booth type displays, and/or audiovisual equipment are prohibited, except for the official Conference sponsor displays located on Partners’ Boulevard. The Conference Organizer reserves the right to have representatives remove all promotional props, easels, backdrop displays, sample foods, and other such materials if displayed, with the exception of those displayed by official partners on the Partners’ Boulevard.

Q: How do I ship boxes to the International Bazaar?  The hotel provides receiving services for your boxes. For shipping instructions, prices and deadlines please review the Shipping Policy.

Help ETC be a responsible meeting—and avoid boxes of brochures being discarded by the hotel following the conference. It is the responsibility of representatives with tabletops to ensure all of their materials are removed in total during the official tear down time in the International Bazaar. After the official closing time of the International Bazaar materials will be disposed of by the hotel staff. The hotel is not held liable or responsible for any remaining exhibitor materials.

Q:  How do I enhance my attendance value and visibility as a Destination in the International Bazaar?  Travel Planners and Tour Operators are seeking itinerary opportunities rather than sales pitches. They are looking for specialized destination knowledge versus generalized sightseeing ideas or broad-based brochures. We therefore recommend your representation includes a product development professional as your second conference representative. Preferably, this individual should be from your home office with outstanding knowledge of specialized itineraries, cutting-edge venues, specialized local guides, etc. He or she should know what can be designed specifically in your destination for the educational travel market.

And an abundance of good maps is always a great giveaway on site. Consider also submitting a presentation proposal for the Destinations Deep Dive seminar track which also includes the popular IGNITE session.

Many destinations opt to co-partner on official sponsorship venues in order to augment their presence and expand display space in the International Bazaar. Interested in becoming a sponsor?

CONNECTS Meetings at the Annual Conference

Q: What is CONNECTS?  The great part of learning and networking at ETC’s Annual Conference is the opportunity to meet new people outside of your immediate network representing all points of the travel distribution channel – planners and destinations, operators and suppliers.  CONNECTS is a fun way to facilitate new connections as well as schedule focused discussions with established partners. The activity in the International Bazaar is repeatedly rated as delivering some of the best networking and connections at the Conference.

As the purpose of these conversations from around the globe serves to ignite new ideas and expand one’s knowledge base, the one-to-one meetings in CONNECTS can’t be beat!   Even if you are not able at this point to expand your tour operator partner network, the destination knowledge you can glean in a one-to-one meetings with destination representatives is fantastic.

Q: When can I start requesting Connects Meetings online?  The CONNECTS online scheduler opens approximately one month prior to ETC’s Annual Conference.  Organizations that do not have a completed profile and fully paid registration are not featured on the list of organizations on the CONNECTS scheduler.

Q: Can I request meetings with delegates at ETC?  In advance of ETC, attendees can “request”* meetings during the official CONNECTS times posted in the Conference Agenda.

*However ETC’s Annual Conference is NOT a tradeshow.  CONNECTS meetings are therefore NOT required of any delegate, although encouraged as these are established times for educating, sharing and learning about destinations, program development, and invaluable cross pollination of ideas.

There are five official CONNECTS meeting blocks. One of these official time blocks restricts CONNECTS meetings to only between tour operators, destinations and suppliers without planners.  All CONNECTS meeting times are scheduled to not conflict with educational sessions.

Other Events and Sessions Logistics

Q: When/where is it important to attend scheduled events and sessions?   You don’t want to miss anything! The agenda at ETC is designed to be both educational as well as provide opportunities for prime networking for all delegates. And the festive all conference delegate evening events are simply a blast!

The value added at ETC is the professional education and timely information shared in a mini-MBA format of a vertically rich session curriculum. Numerous networking sessions, finely tuned research materials such as the extensive Conference Resource Directory, and educational seminars provide tools for strategizing how to successfully manage, market, and promote educational travel as well as network effectively at the Conference.

In respect of official Conference speakers who have invested time in preparing presentations, and of Conference sponsoring partners who have made significant financial commitments to bring outstanding speakers to the Conference, all delegates are encouraged to attend each of the BOLD Talks during the officially scheduled educational program.

Q: How do I attend conference-wide events and/or sessions that require tickets?   All conference-wide ticketed sessions and evening events require advance booking through the Conference registration form online, and are confirmed on a first come, first served basis. Once the allotment of complimentary tickets for any venue is expended, tickets for fee can be secured in advance of the conference.

The Intensive workshop require tickets, but no fee, in advance of the Conference due to their intimate size.  Limited to 22 persons each the SOW and Learning Labs programs held off site require tickets in advance for a nominal fee.  Deli lunches are not included in the registration fee and lunch tickets can be booked in advance on the registration form for a set net price.

Plan ahead for your participation in any/all of the special evening venues at the Conference. Make sure your space is reserved by signing up for tickets online when registering! If you have signed up for ticketed sessions, your tickets will be attached to your delegate badge at the Registration desk upon check-in. If you have not requested your tickets prior to the Conference, any optional venue may sell out prior to the Conference and/or you may not be able to secure tickets on site.