Most folks think of February as the month of love: celebrating Valentine’s Day, remembering loved ones and recognizing the importance of love in our lives. Here’s my travel industry love story.
It wasn’t quite yet February when Tim Moulder and I met in Branson, Missouri, on a chilly day in 2006. I was an executive for the Student & Youth Travel Association and directing a fundraising event for the SYTA Youth Foundation following our summit.
Tim’s travel industry friends encouraged him to attend even though the company he worked for at the time did not engage in student travel. Tim is a great storyteller, and here is how he remembers that day.
“I was sitting next to my longtime friend Mike Palmer (then SYTA executive director) when this angel appeared and spoke to Mike. As she walked away, I asked everyone around me who that angel was who just crossed the room. They all laughed and told me her name, and for me it was love at first sight.”
Tim has since named that day, Jan. 28, “miracle day,” and we celebrate it each year like our own personal Valentine’s Day.
He introduced himself later that day and as we chatted, we realized that we had attended many of the same travel industry events at the same time without crossing paths. Most likely, it was because I was involved in student travel and he was in the adult senior market.
We didn’t begin dating right away. We lived in different cities: Tim in Branson and I in Lake Orion, Michigan. However, Tim made sure to seek me out at the next ABA conference, then he emailed and called a few times. But it wasn’t until November that we went on a date. He invited me to see “Wicked” in Toronto during the annual OMCA conference. Barry Kidd with My Country Inn of Lancaster and Linda Mauzy, formerly with the Laurel Highlands CVB, both NTA members at the time, were also there.
Fast forward a year and on Nov. 2, 2007, the day before NTA’s annual convention began in Kansas City, Tim proposed at the Pomona Fountain in Country Club Plaza. We were the talk of the convention!
Bob Hofmann with Broadway Inbound was the convention chair that year, and he made sure everyone knew we were engaged. He invited us to sit at his table during the last luncheon and announced our engagement from the stage. It was very fitting since we were surrounded by our travel industry family and received an outpouring of love.
We married on June 21, 2008, with several of our travel industry friends in attendance. Jim Reddekopp, former NTA chair, even sang “The Hawaiian Wedding Song” for us. If you know Jim, you know he has an amazing voice.
Since then, Tim and I have had the privilege of working together, and in 2015 we opened our own wholesale tour company, Brilliant Edventures.
Love is evident at NTA events and in the travel industry in general. There are many businesses owned by couples and families. People greet you with a hug. We learn about each other’s families. Friendships are forged, and relationships play a key role in how business is conducted.
We bond through our mutual love of travel—even if it doesn’t always lead to a wedding.
Elaine Moulder, co-owner of Brilliant Edventures in St. Simons Island, Georgia, has been attending NTA conventions since 2002.
Top photo: The Moulders at Travel Exchange ’16 in Atlanta