January 8-10, TATON (Turkish & Armenian Tour Operators Network) attended 2015 New York Times Travel Show for the first time.  Eight Tour Operators in the network (Turkish and Armenian) attended the event, and represented the entire membership, while promoting their own cross-border touristic products.

TATON is a product of the USAID-funded Bridges Project which is managed by AMAP Human Development NGO with our Turkish partner Ekonomistler.

The event was very successful, more than 32,000 people paid to attend the show, and our attendees estimated at least 10% stopped by our booth.  As part of the event, TATON gave away 1000 booklets promoting the cross-border region, along with a daily contest to give away bottles of Armenian Brandy, Armenian dried fruit and Turkish delights.

Canvassing attending TOs, we find that each attendee made multiple contacts on a B2B level (est. at least 20 for all).  Despite securing these contacts, our attendees wished they had more chance to contact more Tour Operators at the show, and this is a goal we carry into the next show and for the future. One of the most important was the director of “Sophisticated Travel”, with more than 200 representations worldwide.  Focusing on luxury tours, he was surprised and happy to learn of the comfort offered by our members in visiting the cross-border region.

Press/Media:  Video of the event was taken by the New York Times, and our booth (“Mt. Ararat: Caravan of Dreams”) was published by the New York Times in its show guide. The booth was also featured in the virtual tour of the Show by Allyson Berger from Georama. We estimate 20 reporters openly came to the booth and interviewed attendees (We know of 3 others that preferred to remain anonymous and did not openly reveal their credentials).  Among them were Generation Bold Radio, a syndicated radio talk show on BizTalk Radio Network, Winner of the National Mature Market Gold Award 2015; WCTC 1450AM in New Jersey, The AgelessTraveler.com, Dessert Professional which is considered to be the unification of the leading trade magazines in the industry, Adventure Travel Trade Association, Education Update, Travelweek, Travel Leaders, American Society of Travel Agents, Georama.

One of the most significant contacts was through the director of Sophisticated Travel; he gave us links to Conde Nast reporters and specifically Wendy Perrin (http://www.wendyperrin.com/), one of the most influential travel associates in the business. She is TripAdvisor’s first “travel advocate” and has an international cadre of Trusted Travel Experts.  We will include her team in our invitation to apply for the TATON Cross-Border Press Tour we will offer this coming summer.

From attending members:

“…it was useful to participate, at least to show the local communities (and to ourselves!) that we, as tourism professionals, understand the importance of working together in order to show tourism & travel opportunities in our region, as one main travel destination.

“The travel show was very helpful in many aspects to TATON participants. First of all, we developed a relationship among TATON participants. For the first time, we were in the same table and we try to promoted our region together. During the show we had the chance to discuss about how we can promote better our region.”

“Secondly, we had chance to meet so many people in the show. They were interested in the region, and people were surprised to see Armenian and Turkish tour operators in the same table and asked more information to have better ideas. We tried to inform other participants about our destinations including Turkey, Armenia, and Georgia. On the other hand, there were some journalists who came our stand and took pictures, and I believe that this was also a very big opportunity for us.”

“One more time I would like to say: Thanks to AMAP for hard job! From organizational point it was very well organized, but most importantly – everything was transparent, clear and understandable!!!”

This New York show is being followed up with the Washington DC Adventure and Travel Show February 20-21, for which seven TOs will attend live.