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ITTFA Chairman Tom Nutley Comments on his New Role… Looking Back, Looking Forward

This month ITTFA talks to its Chairman Tom Nutley as he retires from his full time role at Reed Travel Exhibitions after 25 years.

Nutley founded RTE and became its first ever chairman in February, 2003. He pioneered RTE’s Meridian Club, a major new concept in customer relationship marketing, allowing senior executives to negotiate major buying contracts in a concentrated business-to-business environment. 

In 1992 Tom helped set up ETTFA which has evolved into ITTFA as we know it today. The Association brings together tourism exhibitions from around the world into a business forum that benefits both exhibitors and trade visitors. Members have to meet a set of stringent conditions that emphasise quality and professionalism. As well as his involvement with ITTFA, Nutley has been actively involved with other leading travel and tourism industry organisations worldwide, including the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) and the Institute of Travel & Tourism (ITT).

What are the major changes you have seen in the industry over your time with Reed?
-Perhaps one of the most significant changes over this period has been the advent of the internet and the difference that has made in how we all do business.  Travel agents are now taking a smaller share of the market and new countries and destinations are opening up, the Middle East being one area in particular. As an example, there was only one beach hotel and no tourist board when we initially set up ATM in Dubai.

-The interaction of low cost airlines has had significant impact on travel – the who, when, why and where factors have expanded immensely because of the changes in this mode of transport.  There has also been a growing awareness amongst governments of the value of tourism and how this affects GDP and employment.  Bodies such as UNWTO and WTTC now have a much stronger voice and influence.  And most recently the emphasis on sustainable tourism, which will lead to benefits for local communities and not just profits in the coffers of global corporation.  The tourism industry is playing a much greater role in “green” issues and in some sectors is already leading the way for others.

What were the reasons behind ITTFA and how have industry changes affected the Association?
– ITTFA was originally set up as a European body but as tourism became a more global market place, it was decided to open membership to all markets, worldwide.  Simply by the fact that we work in a global forum, it is even more important to keep up standards within the industry and also to encourage dialogue amongst industry professionals so as to learn and develop through each other.

– ITTFA is dedicated to the continual development of the travel trade show industry, increasing participation and setting high standards across Europe and worldwide.  As emerging markets have become more important, the former Soviet Union has, for example, opened up and a wealth of new destinations have been created,  ITTFA has recognised this and recently made changes to entry requirements and the annual fee structure thus making membership more accessible to smaller and developing shows, as well as more established ones. 

What are your hopes and plans for the industry in general and for ITTFA?
– There is no doubt that travel and tourism will continue to grow, there will be peaks and troughs and it will grow at different rates but in the medium to long term both leisure and meetings industry sectors will grow.  This is good for employment on all levels.

– There will be increased opportunities for ITTFA to grow as more markets open up and we see more specialist or niche shows starting up as well as general regional and national shows.  I would like to see closer liaison with foreign trade bodies for the industry in general and also closer liaison with other associations and industry groups for ITTFA. 

What will your priorities be now and how do you see you spending your time? 
– As well as the new part-time consultancy role I have accepted as President of RTE, I will continue as treasurer and trustee of Just a Drop, the international water-aid charity, founded by World Travel Market on behalf of the international travel and tourism industry nearly ten years ago.
 – My new role will be essentially as an industry ambassador and I hope to have more opportunities to work on industry associations such as PATA and WTTC, as well as my continued involvement with ITTFA.  I would like to provide support in other ways rather than just via exhibitions.

There seems little doubt that we will still be seeing quite a lot of Mr Tom Nutley!