The National Tour Association has selected Mackinac Island as the site for its annual Contact 2025 gathering. The organization’s exclusive buyer event and tour operator retreat, Contact is designed to bring tour operators, travel advisors, and sponsoring suppliers and DMOs together.
Rotating locations each year, the 2024 event will be held in St. John’s on the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The 2022 Contact was in Anchorage, Alaska, and 2023 was in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
“Contact is a fantastic opportunity for the host city and state because we bring 50 to 75 tour operators to the destination—many of whom are the owners or decision-makers for their company—to experience the culture, food, and hospitality firsthand,” says Dawn Pettus, the National Tour Association’s vice president for events. “Operators can immediately begin to think about the potential for their own clients and tour products.”
Pettus says Mackinac Island Tourism made the initial outreach to suggest the National Tour Association bring Contact there. “I was immediately excited about the possibility,” Pettus says. “It has long been a popular destination for group and family vacations and is a perfect location for Contact. Personally, it has been on my bucket list for a long time, and I think first-timers and repeat visitors alike will be excited to attend.”
The Grand Hotel will host the event in May 2025. About 140 attendees typically participate, though Pettus expects a higher turnout because of Mackinac Island’s appeal.
Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau Executive Director Tim Hygh hopes about 200 of what he describes as “influential attendees” will register for the National Tour Association’s Contact 2025. “The biggest bonus is that this is primarily a business-to-business conference,” he says, noting that the National Tour Association’s selection of Mackinac Island is “huge.”
“Group travel has been, and continues to be, an important sector for Mackinac Island and Michigan’s economy and we know hosting this event will benefit the island, the entire Straits area, and many other Michigan destinations,” Hygh explains, adding, “This isn’t just a chance to host a premiere event, it’s a chance to show operators and stakeholders why Mackinac Island is a top-tier destination for group travel, meetings, and future events.”