Greeting and salutations fellow travel professionals. It is with mixed emotions that I write this, my last editorial for IATM. After writing over 50 articles, attending over 20 meetings, delivering 4 lectures and creating 2 websites with 8 electronic newsletters this year alone, I am retiring from IATM in order to spend more time with my family, seriously. Often this phrase is a euphemism for “I am out of here and I do not want to tell you why”. But in my case, it is true. Many of you know that I recently got married to the loveliest woman in the world. I celebrated this in grand style by skydiving like James Bond into our beach wedding. So my attention is now squarely on growing my family and growing my company, The Travels.
The amount of time the Chairman must devote to IATM is tremendous. On average it is hundreds of hours a year, and this does not include meetings. This is a lot to ask for a position with no pay. The only benefit is that if there is enough money, the trips to the Board meetings may be subsidized. But even in that regard, I often paid my own way to get to IATM board meetings and constantly stayed in Youth Hostels instead of the hotel with the other Board members.
Half of your dues go to fund the London office. The rest is split between the newsletter and travel for the Chairman. I have often proposed saving money by ceasing to publish a hard copy of the newsletter. It is easy to have a monthly or quarterly newsletter delivered to all of you by email, but many of you love the feel of receiving a hard copy in the mail. This year I did both. I demonstrated how the online format links you to more information and in a timelier manner. I subsequently also printed out all the articles at a later date and sent them to those of you that desired to have a hard copy sent to you. Included in the ballot is that same question for 2012. Do you want to receive a hard copy of the newsletter? My advice is to drop it because we cannot afford it. But I pose the option to you, since it is your money that pays for it.
I have tried a couple of other ideas for gaining members in my tenure as Chairman. I have created 3 different brochures and sent them to Tour Operators and to Colleges that have a tourism department. Over 1000 companies and teachers received our information and then hopefully passed the information on to the tens of thousands of Tour Managers and students. The response yielded few new members. I declare that it was far too much work for such dismal results.
I have created our website TourManager.org. Though this alone has taken hundreds of hours over the years, I could have spent more time on it. I have taught myself to be a professional web designer so if there was a function or tool that you wanted for the website; I could have created it for you. The sad truth is that most of you have never signed in to the website. I even took the extraordinary step of creating a profile for every member. But I know who and when everyone has signed in. I will summerize it to say that most of our members are not proactive in their internet activities. Since I own and run the website, its future is uncertain. The association lacks the funds to create a new one or even to pay me to act as the webmaster.
I have also created a third website, GreenGuideAlliance.com. Partnering with the London office of IATM, I have tried to get Tour Guides (from Tourist Guides to Tour Managers) to sign up in declaration that they will think green whilst on tour. Dr Frank Slater also promoted the Green Guide Alliance to his students of the International Guide Academy. I am sorry to say that this endeavor has also fallen sadly short of expectations. I point this out in recognition that it is much more then knowledge, ingenuity and perseverance needed to succeed in growing our membership of IATM.
There are unrecognized reasons why IATM is losing members. To recognize, adapt and overcome these reasons may prove to be the next Chairman’s most daunting task. We have two brave souls that have chosen to take up the gauntlet, Carol-Anne Seidelman and Frank Slater. Both are well experienced and receive my blessing. But in the words of George Washington “I am fairly out, and you are fairly in. See which of us will be the happiest.”
On an inspirational note, IATM is an amazing association. Together we can achieve anything. Our members, you, make up the best that the industry has to offer. We have established a real and virtual framework that has stood the test of time. Our limits are controlled by your involvement. 2012 may well prove to be a determining factor for the future of IATM. Live the dream of IATM and together we can tour the life fantastic.
Scott Mac Scott CTM