As Membership Changes, So Does Motorcoach Association
Recognizing that its core group of members has changed, the Florida Motorcoach Association is adjusting the way it operates. The major shifts: organizational structure and meetings.
The Florida Motorcoach Association is undergoing a bit of a makeover.
After realizing a shift in its membership base, the association recently announced [PDF] it was updating its organizational structure and meeting format.
“For quite a bit of time now, we’ve noticed that the trend in our association of operator members is not really tour operators, it was more bus operators,” said Eddie Serrano, FMA board member and vice president and general manager of Empire Coach Line in Orlando. “In realizing we were more of a bus-operator crowd, we decided our focus should be more on safety and compliance and educating bus operators with things they need to run their day-to- day business.”
Serrano described bus operators as those who own and operate a fleet of charter buses. This type of operator may service conventions, private school groups going on field trips, and the cruise industry—transporting people to and from ships—for example. A tour operator, on the other hand, might operate a charter bus but also sells vacation packages including overnight stays or attractions.
Among the changes, FMA announced an updated meetings format in which the association will host three one-day meetings a year that focus on education and compliance issues for bus operators. The previous format consisted of appointment-style meetings between vendors and operators.
“As bus operators, we don’t do a lot of business selling hotels and selling attractions,” Serrano said. “We realized that the [previous] annual show and marketplace weren’t necessarily benefitting us. It was meeting with people who we really didn’t do a whole lot of business with.”
FMA also announced that its day-to-day operations and meetings management will be handled by the American Bus Association, which represents about 1,000 motorcoach and tour operators in the United States and Canada.
“We felt they were the right people to help guide us in that direction of being more of the educational and safety and compliance type of association,” Serrano said.
“The American Bus Association has a lot of the right connections—the relationships with vendors, some who were already part of our association, and associates who they can bring to our association,” he added. “But the biggest benefit is the experience in the industry and the contacts and relationships that they already have with suppliers in this industry.”