Welcome to the professional Association for Destination Experience Operators

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About Us



GTP was founded by Von Harden and Adam Connolly, two travel industry veterans, who share a common passion for helping other businesses. A tour operator himself and the founder of The International Association of Tour Directors and Guides, (IATDG), Von has seen many members look to create their own business offering tours or experiences, some succeeding some failing.

After meeting 5 years ago at the IATDG conference, Von and Adam both realized there was a need for further support for small destination experience operators and individuals looking to turn their passion into an experience for locals or tourists.

Building on our success with IATDG

IATDG was founded by Von in 2015 following the need for Tour Operators to recruit better talent to lead their tours. Right from the start the association met many of the needs of Tour Leaders and over-the-road Tour Operators and, in less than a year, hosted 300+ members at the inaugural conference in Washington DC. 5 years later, IATDG is thriving and keeping members happy due to a very simple formula: Affordable fees to an association that meets the exact needs of the members.

About Von and Adam

Von Harden- Von is a seasoned Tour Operator with over 20 years of entrepreneurial experience and is passionate about helping small travel businesses grow. Highly experienced in the tour and travel industry, Von founded and manages the International Association of Tour Directors and Guides (IATDG). Since 2016, this niche organization boasts nearly 1600 community members worldwide and produces an annual conference of nearly 400 attendees under Von’s leadership. A graduate of the School of Business and Industry at Florida A&M University, he currently resides in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area with his two AMAZING daughters.

Adam Connolly- Adam is an experienced senior travel professional with 20+ years experience of managing operations departments for large UK based Tour Operators. Adam is passionate about service and experience delivery and helping individuals and businesses overcome their challenges. With frontline customer experience having started out on the ground, working in various global destinations, Adam brings experience of global operations and having navigated numerous significant travel industry crises. A Politics graduate of De Montfort University, Adam can operate at all levels in the industry. He currently resides in Nottingham, UK.


Who are DEOs?

Destination Experience Operators are just that – small businesses or individuals who operate experiences in destinations around the globe. From an hours long experience in a restaurant, to a multi-day tour of the area, all these activities are run by who we call Destination Experience Operators. A typical tourist will use a variety of DEOs throughout their travels, these may be individuals, recent start-ups or well-established operators.

There are 4 general categories of Destination Experience Operators.

  • Tour Operators running day or multi day tours of the local area to inbound or outbound tourists, on land, water or air.
  • Independent Tour Guides who operate private or group tours as their own business
  • Venues or individuals that host experiences such as cooking classes, hands on experiences, demonstrations etc, including individuals who market through platforms such as AirBNB.
  • Attraction venues such as museums, vinyards, restaurants etc.

What we’re working on for deo’s


Growing on our experience of running IATDG and our experience in the Tour industry, we are aiming to deliver support to DEOs in the following areas:

  • Advocacy for members
  • Standards / accountability for members (credibility for the travelling public)
  • Free, non-commissionable searchable database (similar to an OTA), marketed to the public.
  • Resources and Support e.g. contract and policy templates, processes etc
  • Mentorship for new DEOs – from conception to operation, we can support you.
  • Access to training and professional development
  • Annual regional conferences (focus on professional development)
  • An independent analysis of the courses and training that are being offered.
  • Approved supplier database and negotiated discounts for essentials, such as insurances, licenses, purchasing, training etc
  • Private online forum for open discussion of issues.
  • Operational Support - advice for domestic and international issues
  • Arbitration – we can support and arbitrate disputes you may have with customers or suppliers.
  • Code of conduct for all members - including best practise, behaviours, standards etc
  • Training modules for all key aspects of running a Tour OP
  • Operational update/news bulletins
  • Customer App, that each operator can white label and run as their own for their customers
  • Buying power - insurances, accommodation, access to initial free legal advice
  • Retail discounts with large chains
  • Local knowledge sharing/forums
  • Online courses for marketing your own tours - seo, facebook marketing etc
  • Certification for standards
  • Tour Ops "Health check" - free check of your business to ensure you have all you need, doing the best things to grow etc
  • Quarterly conference calls for different areas of the business to discuss issues (OTAs, legislation, employment, tax, standards etc)
  • Directory of who's who so you can reach out to your peers when you need to.
  • Discounts on consultants, advisors, specialists etc.
  • Documentation / guidance library - manuals on all aspects of running a business.
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