When Nayaz Noor and Fraser Neave sat down for a one-on-one business appointment at NTA’s Travel Exchange in San Antonio five years ago, neither knew exactly what the meeting would lead to. They were strangers, after all, paired by the association’s computerized matching system. They’re also half a world apart. Noor is the CEO of 39 Degrees South, a ground operator in Australia, while Neave is product development director for Wells Gray Tours in British Columbia.

“I had never met Nayaz and had never heard of his company before the appointment scheduling system opened,” Neave says, adding that he likes to meet with every receptive tour operator from outside of North America.

Fraser Neave and Nayaz Noor
Fraser Neave, left, of British Columbia and Nayaz Noor from Australia first connected five years ago to create “Amazing Australia.”
Credit: Norman Huberdeau

The appointment was considered a perfect match by the computer system because Noor had also requested an appointment with Neave.

“As a seller, my focus is to get North American tour operators to include Australia as a new destination,” Noor says.

Wells Gray Tours had conducted pre- and post-cruise touring in Australia before but had never launched a longer land tour. Neave was eager to meet with Noor, who had plenty to talk about, including itineraries with The Ghan, a luxury train that journeys through parts of Australia not often explored by other sightseeing companies.

“We had a great appointment at TREX, and I came home with Australia as one of my top new tour ideas,” Neave says. “Nayaz followed up by email and we had further discussions on a two-and-a-half-week itinerary featuring the top highlights of Australia and a trip aboard The Ghan. We called the tour ‘Amazing Australia,’ and it sold out instantly.”

“That was the most exciting day for me—when I got that email from Fraser giving us the nod to go ahead with the program,” Noor says.

Wells Gray’s Australian adventure in 2019 was a huge hit with the participants, and the Nayaz-Neave team had another tour set for 2021, but … you know. The journey continues, though.

“We’re all booked for 2023, and the tour is nearly full,” Neave says. “We even expanded it by two days.”

NTA Travel Exchange
At Travel Exchange, NTA members connect during business appointments to either introduce themselves or to update each other.
Credit: Norman Huberdeau

It’s successful partnerships like this that make Neave excited about Travel Exchange ’22 in Reno, Nevada, Nov. 13-16.

“I’m looking forward to meeting a new supplier partner who will help me find my next great idea,” the tour operator says. “There isn’t another travel show in North America where I can meet with U.S.-based restaurants and hotels one day and have appointments with receptive tour operators from around the world the following day.”

It’ll be a reunion, then, because Noor is also returning to Travel Exchange after missing the show due to COVID restrictions.

“After two years of being unable to travel to TREX, it is vital for us to be present at the event so we can renew our relationships with current clients,” he says. “And post-COVID, many operators have changed their strategy and may now look to promote new destinations.”

Neave can vouch for Noor’s approach.

“His enthusiasm for NTA and our industry is infectious, and I’m thankful that we have such a great partnership.”

Article by Bob Rouse, NTA’s vice president of communication. For more information about Travel Exchange, visit NTAtravelexchnage.com.

Lead image:
Relaxing aboard The Ghan are Nayaz Noor, right, and his wife, Suchitra Reddy, middle.
Credit: Nayaz Noor