Make Way for the ABA! Prestigious Convention Heads for the Fast Lane | Charlotte NC Travel & Tourism
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Make Way for the ABA! Prestigious Convention Heads for the Fast Lane


Visit Charlotte Welcomes the American Bus Association to the Queen City for Marketplace 2009

In the motorcoach world, the most wonderful time of the year comes just after the holidays…American Bus Association Marketplace. It’s where motorcoach, tour, and travel industries come together in one location to book group travel business. Over 3,500 attendees will convene in Charlotte January 7 - 12 for the 28th annual Marketplace, which celebrates the importance of group travel and tourism and hosts a steady stream of events that put the “wow” in wow factor.

Why is ABA so important? Because motorcoaches provide over 700,000,000 passenger trips annually. A one-day visit made by a motorcoach group can leave more than $4,500 in a destination’s economy and an overnight visit more than $11,000.** With an industry made up of nearly 3,600 group travel businesses, Marketplace provides a destination for these group travel gurus to connect. Full of action-packed exhibit floors, networking opportunities with colleagues from near and far, and excursions that showcase the very best the state has to offer, this week will make your head spin, but in a good way.

"We are excited to be in Charlotte, which is one of the fastest-growing urban areas in the country and conveniently located along major motorcoach-accessible routes," said ABA President & CEO Peter J. Pantuso. "The combination of local attractions and Southern hospitality make it the ideal place for Marketplace, which is sure to be 'Money in the Bank' for the 3,500 attendees and the local tourism economy."

Marketplace convenes in a new destination each year and this will be the prestigious organization’s first trip to the Queen City. The Charlotte region is quickly becoming a group tour destination with the development of one-of-a-kind, group-friendly attractions. ABA Marketplace also serves as a vital tool for the cities that host it. Throughout the course of their stay, attendees will get a healthy dose of what the region has to offer through familiarization and sightseeing tours, which will entice them to bring group travel back to the region time and time again.

“Since we see the impact that tourism has on our community day in and day out, we couldn’t be more thrilled to host a convention that plays such a vital role in our industry,” says Visit Charlotte Executive Director Mike Butts. “ABA Marketplace provides an opportunity for thousands of tourism professionals to explore our vibrant city and the wealth of things to see and do that make for memorable group travel experiences.”

Here’s a sneak peek into the fast lane that Marketplace attendees will be partaking in. They also serve as some dynamic story ideas and photo opportunities!

January 7 – January 12

Marketplace Networking Floor – More than 100,000 Marketplace appointments have been scheduled already. While the face-to-face appointments are the core of the show, ABA’s new Product Pavilion on the exhibit floor offers operators the opportunity to view the industry’s latest products and services. Associate members can showcase their products and services to the more than 320 operator companies who attend Marketplace. Look for the Visit Charlotte (with additional NC destination marketing organizations) booth decked out with its own recording studio where passersby can drop in to belt out a tune.

January 7 and January 11

Dine Around Charlotte – Conventions as prestigious as ABA are vital to Charlotte because of the tourism dollars they infuse into the economy. This year, ABA will get to sample the buzz that the Queen City’s dining scene has been making on two evenings in Center City, South End, and South Park. Over 40 restaurants in these neighborhoods are primed and ready to serve the influx of convention-goers and are even offering special coupons and discounts.

January 8

Here’s Lookin’ at You, North Carolina – To get the party started, ABA’s first-ever evening opening ceremony will highlight a common thread that connects the entire state - film. This movie-themed affair will take a look back at North Carolina’s Hollywood legacy and showcase the onscreen legends that have graced the mountains, piedmont, and coast.

January 8

Strike Out Breast Cancer: Marketplace Gives Back – ABA Marketplace will be one of the first groups to christen the 30,000 square foot Strike City, when Marketplace Gives Back hosts “Strike Out Breast Cancer” after the opening ceremonies on January 8th. Teams will compete in hopes of raising more than $25,000 during this event that benefits Carolinas Breast Friends.

January 9

Pure Carolina – The Arts & Science Council will capture the riches of the Carolinas – the arts, adventure, and even the area’s progress. Designed to highlight the new regional trails project Pure Carolina, everything from the action at the U.S. National Whitewater Center to the region’s craft heritage in pottery-making will be on display at the nearby Wachovia Atrium. Sure to be a feast for the eyes, attendees will need to save room for the Carolina specialties on the menu as well.

January 10

Party with the Beast – The following evening, Lowe’s Motor Speedway invites attendees to experience the “Beast of the Southeast” – a 1.5-mile superspeedway that’s a favorite for NASCAR speed demons. Guests can expect the Lowe’s VIP treatment with a band in the infield, stockcar rides, racing simulators, and so much more that will have attendees putting the pedal to the metal until night’s end.

For additional information on Marketplace 2009, visit

Visit Charlotte, a division of the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, has promoted the Charlotte region for over 25 years as a destination for tourists, a host city for meetings and conventions and a site for sporting events. It employs a staff of approximately 40 that includes satellite sales offices in Chicago and Washington, DC. For more information, visit

The American Bus Association is the trade organization of the intercity bus industry with more than 1000 motorcoach owner and tour company members in the United States and Canada. Its members operate charter, tour, regular route, airport express, special operations and contract services. Another 2,600 members are travel and tourism organizations and suppliers of bus products and services who work in partnership with the North American motorcoach industry.

Molly Hedrick, CRVA Communications Department

(704) 331-2737