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History of ttra

Chuck_Goeldner_ImageAs retold by veteran member, Dr. Chuck Goeldner, University of Colorado, Boulder

January, 2013


The Travel and Tourism Research Association (TTRA) was founded in 1970 as the result of an affiliation of two existing organizations:  the Travel Research Association (TRA) and the Western Council for Travel Research (WCTR). TRA was established in 1956, with Norm Johnson of the New York Port Authority as president. TRA was based mainly in New York City and functioned as a travel marketing /research group, meeting at monthly luncheons and usually holding an annual conference.

The Western Council for Travel Research was based in the western United States and, at the time of the merger discussions, was informally headquartered in Salt Lake City. WCTR held an annual conference, usually a 3-1/2 day meeting, with a published proceedings and a quarterly newsletter. Other tourism publications were also in place, such as Travel Trends in the United States and the Bibliography of Travel Research. WCTR was organized in 1959, and Dr. Osmond L. Harline of the University of Utah was the first president. 

Membership in TRA was primarily industry people in the east with most from New York and Washington D. C.  Membership totaled about 150. WCTR was composed of directors of university bureaus of economic and business research, state highway directors, state travel offices, and other users and producers of travel research. The tourism industry had just begun to show an interest in this travel research organization with various sectors asking to be members. WCTR’s membership likewise numbered about 150. Also the Canadian travel industry had shown a decided interest in WCTR with a number of members, a WCTR president, and Canadian board members. 

After the decision to become one organization, the selection of a name was difficult. Much discussion took place as the eastern group name, Travel Research Association, seemed to be perfect, but something different was needed. After much discussion, founders chose The Travel Research Association (TTRA) as the name of the new organization. Two councils functioned under the TTRA name— ECTR for the eastern group and WCTR for the western group. To be a TTRA member, an individual joined one of the councils, which was awkward as people simply wanted to join TTRA. Salt Lake City, Utah, was selected as the headquarters, with Mari Lou Wood as the secretary-treasurer. Housed in the Bureau of Economic and Business Research at the University of Utah, the newly created organization began a stay that would last 23 years.

After a period of operating as two councils under the TTRA banner, it became clear that the organization needed to become one in name, purpose, activities, publications, membership, and so forth, and truly merge. This happened at the 1971 conference when the two councils transferred all assets into the TTRA common base. The ECTR group elected to continue with its luncheon functions and became the New York Chapter of TTRA. At the same time, the Canadian members began discussing the possibility of forming a Canada chapter, which they did. Many of the active members on the west coast, in the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas, also began discussing becoming chapters. In 1972, the merging of the two organizations was complete, with TTRA operating as one organization. The name was changed to the Travel and Tourism Research Association.

In addition to hundreds of individuals who gave so much time and effort to create TTRA, two universities (the University of Utah and the University of Colorado). played an important part in TTRA’s origin, history, and success.


The vision of TTRA is to be the leading organization supporting the global community of practitioners, educators, and users of research engaged in transforming, sharing and applying  tourism research knowledge and practice worldwide.

The mission of TTRA is to:  (1) act as the leading professional organization of providers and users of travel and tourism research, (2) serve as a primary resource to the industry,  (3) advocate standards for research and analysis, (4) promote training and education of professionals, (5) promote quality travel and tourism research and marketing information, and (6) be member centric.

TTRA facilitates access to numerous sources of information to support research efforts; educates members in research, marketing, and planning skills through publications, conferences, and networking; encourages professional development and recognizes research and marketing excellence through its awards program; creates opportunities to interact with your peers throughout the industry; fosters development of travel and tourism research and related curricula in institutes of higher education; promotes the development and application of professional research in the travel and tourism industry.


TTRA is a nonprofit professional organization of providers and users of travel and tourism research.  International in scope, TTRA advances the quality, value and use of travel and tourism marketing, planning and development.  TTRA is incorporated under the laws of the State of Michigan and operates under a set of bylaws. 

TTRA has over 500 active members, including professionals from airlines, accommodations, attractions, resorts, transportation companies, public relations and advertising firms, media, travel research consultants, government tourism agencies, convention and visitors bureaus, universities and other organizations interested in travel research and marketing.

Throughout its more than 40 years TTRA has operated with officers, a Board of Directors, and a management company. Under the direction of the Officers and Board, TTRA is managed by Treeline Associates, Whitehall, Michigan. 


While TTRA is an international organization, it has recognized there is a great benefit to belonging to a more regional organization whose focus is centered on topics which affect a specific region.  To address this member need, TTRA offers regional chapters.  Membership in TTRA International is a requirement of chapter membership.  The following regions have an available chapter. 

Asia Pacific (APAC) Chapter, Regions:  All Asia and Pacific nations; Canada Chapter, Regions:  All Canada and all Canadian provinces; Central States (CenStates) Chapter, Regions:  U.S. States—Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri; Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin; Europe Chapter, Regions:  All European Nations; Greater Western (GWTTRA) Chapter, Regions:  U.S. States—Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming; Hawaii Chapter, Regions:  U.S. States—Hawaii; Southeastern States (SETTRA) Chapter, Regions:  U.S. States—Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia; and Texas Chapter, Regions:  U.S. States—Texas. 


TTRA has five types of membership with different benefits for each class of member - Platinum/Gold Partner; Organization Member, Premier Member, Standard Member, and Student Member.

TTRA has member representation all over the world—in fact, on most continents. North America has the largest representation, with the largest number of members from United States, followed by Canada.  Smaller representation, albeit no less important, is within the geographic regions of Europe (Austria, Belgium, Estonia, France, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Romania, Switzerland, and the United kingdom), Asia (China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and the United Arab Emirates), Africa (Egypt, Nigeria, South Africa, and Sudan), the Caribbean (Barbados, Bermuda, and Trinidad), Australia, and New Zealand.


TTRA is unique.  No other international organization of this magnitude offers (1) access to a unique membership combination of academics, practitioners, vendors; (2) exclusive networking opportunities among these groups that result in; (3) mutually beneficial business relationships and collaboration. 

The annual TTRA conference held in June each year attracts an international audience.  It is a great event for education and networking.  The author of this piece has frequently been quoted as saying:  “You haven’t lived until you have been to an annual TTRA conference.”

Over the years TTRA has been innovative. In the early years TTRA and the University of Colorado created the Travel Reference Center (TRC).  TTRA’s Travel Reference Center contained the largest collection of travel, tourism, and recreation research studies available in one place in the United States. The complete catalog of this library could be accessed by computer. With 973 descriptors searches could be made of this data by visitors and the TRC’s research staff. After many years of serving the travel industry the Internet came along and rendered the TRC obsolete. TTRA moved on to support other activities. 

TTRA showed its leadership when they organized an exercise to produce a research agenda for the travel industry.  This resulted in the first tourism research agenda for the North American travel industry and was published under the title:  A Research Agenda for the North American Travel Industry:  The Top Ten Issues—1994. TTRA repeated this exercise in 2011 to produce a global tourism research agenda.

The Handbook on Accountability Research is another TTRA success story.  As a part of its commitment to increasing the quality, value effectiveness, and use of research in the travel industry, TTRA played an integral part in the compilation of this U.S. Department of Commerce handbook. It represents a collaboration of both producers and users of marketing information in the tourism field—all of whom were TTRA members.

TTRA has an excellent educational webinar series. The three webinars in 2013 were:  Putting the Visitor Arrival Pieces Together, featuring Scott Johnson and Richard Champley, sponsored by Travel Market Insights; VolunTOURISM: Is it Right for Your Meeting or Event? featuring Nancy McGehee; and LGBT Travel Study Results, featuring David Paisley, sponsored by Community Marketing & Insights.

The State Provincial Research Network LISTSERV is a gift to the travel research industry from TTRA. Its aim is to facilitate real-time dialogue on issues of importance to state, provincial, and destination travel office researchers. Additionally, the forum is open to those who are involved in tourism research at an international or local level. Membership in the LISTSERV is not automatic; however, accessing the LISTSERV archives is a TTRA member benefit and provides a powerful tool for tourism research information.

The TTRA awards program was developed to encourage and recognize excellence in travel and tourism research and marketing. Entrants are judged on quality, creativity, usefulness, results, and benefits to the travel and tourism industry. Winners are announced at the TTRA annual conference.

TTRA’s website ( has everything you want to know about TTRA. The site includes information about membership, conferences, publications, chapters, webinars, lifetime achievement award winners, and so forth.

The latest success story for TTRA was taking over the Marketing Outlook Forum from the U.S. Travel Association and presenting an annual global forecast for the travel industry. 


TTRA holds an annual conference each year. The following are the meeting locations by year: 

1970 Monterey, California; 1971 Snowmass at Aspen, Colorado; 1972 Quebec City, Quebec, Canada; 1973 Sun Valley, Idaho; 1974 Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia; 1975 San Diego, California; 1976 Boca Raton, Florida; 1977 Scottsdale, Arizona; 1978 Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; 1979 San Antonio, Texas; 1980 Savannah, Georgia; 1981 Las Vegas, Nevada; 1982 Miami, Florida; 1983 Banff, Alberta, Canada; 1984 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; 1985 Palm Springs, California; 1986 Memphis, Tennessee; 1987 Seattle, Washington; 1988 Montreal, Quebec, Canada; 1989 Honolulu, Hawaii; 1990 New Orleans, Louisiana; 1991 Long Beach, California; 1992 Minneapolis, Minnesota; 1993 Whistler, British Columbia, Canada; 1994 Bal Harbour, Florida; 1995 Acapulco, Mexico; 1996 Las Vegas Nevada; 1997 Norfolk, Virginia; 1998 Fort Worth, Texas; 1999 Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada; 2000 Burbank, California; 2001 Fort Meyers, Florida; 2002 Arlington, Virginia; 2003 St. Louis, Missouri; 2004 Montreal, Quebec, Canada; 2005 New Orleans, Louisiana; 2006 Dublin, Ireland; 2007 Las Vegas, Nevada; 2008 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; 2009 Honolulu, Hawaii; 2010 San Antonio, Texas; 2011 London, Ontario, Canada; 2012 Virginia Beach, Virginia; 2013 Kansas City, Missouri; 2014 Brugge, Belgium; and 2015 Portland, Oregon.

In addition, TTRA held the Global Travel Outlook Forum in Chicago in 2012, renaming it the following year in Chicago to the Marketing Outlook Forum: A Global Perspective. It will be held in Atlanta, Georgia, in 2014.


TTRA has an enviable record of supporting publications with partners and creating publications on its own for more than 44 years. Some notable publications that TTRA has supported over its history are the Journal of Travel Research; the Travel Trends in the U.S. and Canada; the Bibliography of Travel Research; the Tourism Educators Newsletter; the Bibliography of Tourism and Travel Research Studies, Reports, and Articles; the Travel Research Supplier Directory; Accountability Research Handbook; and TTRA’s 25-Year Legacy. All are out of print except for the Journal of Travel Research.

Publications that are totally produced by TTRA are its annual conference proceedings and the members’ newsletter. These contain a wealth of information. From 1989 to 1993 TTRA held a Travel Review Conference and published proceedings of those conferences. Finally, TTRA is publishing the proceedings of its newest product, the Marketing Outlook Forum: A Global Perspective.   


TTRA has a very bright future because of its dedicated members who volunteer to achieve the association’s goals. Its outstanding Officers/Board of Directors and excellent experienced management company make a team that delivers value and benefits to the membership. The academic/practitioner membership mix is a strength of TTRA.  An increasing number of chapters reflects the growing international aspect of TTRA. The addition of a new product, the previously mentioned Marketing Outlook Forum: A Global Perspective, has TTRA well positioned for growth and a bright future.       



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