How this Case Study may be relevant to you: Virtual TAP Dance is a model of how to successfully switch from a traditional live conference to a virtual event while keeping profits, personal connection and memorable experiences intact.

All eyes were on Travel Alliance Partners (TAP) in June 2020 with their bold move to be the first in the travel industry to announce and deliver a virtual event – which overwhelmingly exceeded expectations.

Virtual TAP Dance image with logo and slogan "Don't stop! Move forward with TAP"

Situational Analysis

Travel Alliance Partners (TAP) was created 18 years ago as an innovative way to help tour operators grow their businesses. This partner-owned corporation, comprising premier North American tour operators has combined sales of over $75M. Integral to their success are the relationships they have built with DMOs and suppliers.

TAP is well known in the travel industry for their annual conference, TAP Dance. This event, in its 15th year, is a preferred conference for many travel professionals because of its relaxed environment, long-standing relationships and proven format designed to impact business growth for TAP Tour Operators and their suppliers.

The Challenge

Faced with travel restrictions and dramatically reduced budgets due to the COVID-19 pandemic, TAP needed to quickly develop an event that would replace their on-site conference. Despite not meeting in person, the event needed to still have the personal and interactive elements associated with the TAP brand.

Travel Alliance Partners group shot of Partners

Objectives

  • Create an event that would allow tour operators, DMOs and suppliers to connect to ensure business development for the year ahead.
  • Provide the traditional level of value to event participants including tour operators, suppliers and sponsors.
  • Ensure a profitable event resulting in revenue to the organization.

Strategic Insight

TAP Dance was first conceived as an innovative approach to a travel industry event, with emphasis on the relationships between tour operators and the DMOs and suppliers.

Holding a conference despite the obstacles continues the TAP tradition of being an innovative leader in the travel industry. They would demonstrate their commitment to the partnerships needed for all in this industry to be successful.

Strategic Approach

  • Provide guidance to stakeholders that holding a virtual event is feasible and would solidify them as an innovative industry leader.
  • Develop an event plan designed to create compelling interest for attendees and sponsors.
  • Deploy technology to support the virtual experience in an efficient and cost-effective manner.
  • Ensure unique elements from the live event continue in the new virtual format.
A selection of photos from the virtual TAP Dance event virtual photo booth

Tactics

  • Technology: identify and implement technology to meet all pre-event requirements for the website, registration, payment and meeting arrangements. Manage all technology tools throughout the event. Train event participants on technology to ensure ease of use during the event.
  • Event Planning: Create and manage an event project plan to ensure event was delivered on time and within budget.
  • Marketing: Create email and social media campaigns to promote the event.
  • Sponsor Value: Identify unique tools to ensure exposure for sponsors throughout the event.
  • Participation: Create opportunity for registered attendees to bring a guest, increasing meeting value to both the suppliers and tour operators.

Results

We had resounding feedback from attendees, TAP Tour Operators and sponsors that the event far exceeded expectations.

With 500+ private virtual meetings, hundreds of attendees, entertaining videos, international guests and fun virtual activities, the event was a welcome reprieve from the distance that the pandemic had put between people who are used to seeing one another every year.

Result Highlights

  • Conducted 546 virtual meetings over three days for travel professionals from 5 different time zones to connect for business development.
  • Created 22 hours of varied event programming over three days including general sessions, roundtable educational sessions, B2B appointments, a wellness break, happy hours, networking and evening entertainment.
  • Developed unique virtual event sponsorships for 22 sponsors including virtual photo booth, online trivia contest, happy hour cocktail recipe demonstration and on-screen sponsor logo overlay for added exposure.
  • Created an online event content gallery including 13 videos played throughout the event, photo gallery and digital brochure.
  • Exceeded attendance goals and executed a profitable event that replaced what would have been a revenue shortfall for the year.
  • Feedback from attendees, TAP Tour Operators and sponsors was that the event far exceeded their expectations.
  • Solidified the organization as a bold and innovative leader in the industry.
A testimonial from TAP Tour Operators praising the virtual TAP Dance event
A testimonial from a sponsor praising the virtual TAP Dance event