The American Bus Association (ABA) is a trade association for motorcoach operators and tour companies in the United States and Canada. Its membership consists of about 1,000 companies that operate buses or bus-based tours, about 2,800 organizations representing the travel and tourism industry, and several hundred suppliers of buses and related products and services. Its headquarters is in Washington, D.C.
The organization was founded in 1926 as the Motor Bus Division of the American Automobile Association. It was reorganized in 1930 as the National Association of Motor Bus Operators, and in 1960 changed its name to National Association of Motor Bus Owners. It adopted its present name in 1977.
The organization has four types of members:
Motorcoach Operators - Companies that own motorcoaches and provide privately contracted services such as charters, tours, sightseeing, scheduled service, airport express service, school bus service, and/or local receptive operations. (The membership does not include public transport bus services.)
Tour Operators - Companies that organize tours without owning equipment. They offer packaged travel by arranging transportation for hotels, attractions and other travel suppliers. Their tours are primarily to locations away from the company's hometown.
Travel Industry Members - Tourism-related companies and organizations that work in partnership with the North American motorcoach industry. They include travel and tourism companies, convention and visitor bureaus, destination marketing organizations, accommodations, attractions, food service organizations, and tourism service professionals such as receptive operators who specialize in tour planning for a local area.
Associate Members - Manufacturers and suppliers of buses and bus-related products and services.
The American Bus Association represents the business concerns of both U.S. and Canadian privately owned motorcoach and tour operators. ABA represents the U.S. bus industry in Washington, DC, and supports the government affairs activities of its Canadian members and counterpart associations. ABA facilitates relationships between the North American motorcoach industry and all related segments of the travel and supplier industry. In addition, ABA creates awareness of the motorcoach industry among consumers in North America (USA, Canada and Mexico), and communicates publicly on important issues like motorcoach and highway safety.
For its members, the ABA provides networking and business development opportunities, government advocacy, and information about its industry. It works to connect members in several segments of the motorcoach, tour and travel community. For the traveling public, it works to assure safe, pleasant, and economical experiences when traveling by bus. Its specific activities include:
ABA Annual Meeting & Marketplace. Holds this annual convention, which is a major event for the group travel industry. It is held in a different city each year, with a typical attendance of about 3,000 people. The meeting presents an annual opportunity for members of the group travel and motorcoach industry to build business relationships, view new products and services, learn about the latest industry trends, and develop personal networks. The Marketplace features a highly organized series of opportunities for attendees to meet face-to-face in prescheduled seven-minute appointments. Other Marketplace events include professional education seminars, exhibits provided by suppliers, and familiarization tours of attractions in the host city.
Bus Industry Safety Council. The mission of the Bus Industry Safety Council is to continually raise the level of safety in the intercity bus and motorcoach industry through collaborative efforts of professionals in a workshop and educational environment.
Bus Maintenance & Repair Council. The Bus Maintenance and Repair Council (BusMARC) addresses the need for continuing maintenance education and compliance training as well as provide a new venue for equipment, parts and service providers to interact with the bus industry.
Entertainer Motorcoach Council. The mission and purpose of the Entertainer Motorcoach Council is to inspire a level of confidence in the safety, reliability, and quality of service for the operations of entertainer coaches employed on a charter or lease basis; actively promote the high quality services of EMC members; and more.
Hispanic Motorcoach Council. The Hispanic Motorcoach Council endeavors to promote the continued growth, fellowship and development of the Hispanic business community in the motorcoach industry. It will do this by serving as a resource center and forum to promote safe motorcoach operations, encourage interaction among operators and transportation planners, and advocate for Hispanic and minority-owned businesses.
Women in Buses Council. Women in Buses Council is to recognize and advance the role of women in the motorcoach industry through networking, education and mentoring programs.
Publications. Publishes Destinations magazine, an important glossy magazine in the tour and travel industry, which includes the annual Best of the Best issue, and The Insider, a biweekly newsletter for members and others. Compiles and distributes The ABA Motorcoach Marketer, an annual member directory and travel guide. Publishes Marketplace Today, which is the official publication of ABA's Annual Meeting & Marketplace.
Continuing education. Sponsors the Certified Travel Industry Specialist (CTIS) program, providing motorcoach and group travel professionals with industry-specific education and credentialing. The education is provided through correspondence courses at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis and attendance at specialized ABA educational seminars. Conducts webinars online, and educational talks and seminars at its annual Marketplace event.
Awards. Sponsors a Lifetime Achievement Award for individuals who have made major contributions to the motorcoach, tourism, and hospitality industry, and a Kaleidoscope Award for individuals or organizations that have directly impacted the advancement of diversity within the industry.
Code of Ethics. Sponsors a code of ethics for its members. The code was adopted to promote and maintain high standards of business and personal conduct. Its ten points cover general business integrity and several specific items of financial behavior.
Government Affairs. Represents the industry before elected officials and regulatory bodies. Monitors pertinent legislative and regulatory activity, and keeps members informed of developments in these areas. These activities have helped in securing Americans with Disabilities Act grants to assist coach operators in equipping coaches with wheelchair lifts, and Transportation Security Administration funds in support of industry efforts to improve security measures for drivers and passengers.
The ABA sponsors the ABA Foundation, which funds research, scholarships, and internships related to its mission. It supports BUSPAC, a political action committee that works to advance the interests of the industry and the traveling public.
The ABA maintains strategic partnerships with about 20 other industry organizations and a similar number of state and provincial bus associations.