By David Hubbard
Motorcoach Network News is the brainchild of American Bus Association Senior Director of Communications Dan Ronan, ABA President and CEO Peter Pantuso and Ryan Kelly, president of Terrapin Blue. BUSRide talked with the principals during ABA Marketplace. Here are Dan Ronan’s comments.
How did MTN-TV come about?
In early summer 2011, I met with Ryan Kelly of Terrapin Blue to discuss the possibility of a closed-circuit video newscast to address the current issues and highlights of the motorcoach travel and tourism industries. We roughed out a 10 minute pilot and had about 10 days to get it produced in time to present at the next ABA board of directors meeting. The board liked what they saw and we were off and running. We plan to be the video news source of record for this industry.
Where do motorcoach and tour operators go to view MTN-TV?
MTN-TV comes out once a month around the 15th on the ABA website, www.buses.org, as well as YouTube. ABA members also receive a link to the site by e-mail when it comes out.
Is there a marketing revenue component to this venture?
Absolutely. We do sell online advertising. Terrapin Blue handles the ad sales as well as sponsorships. Typically viewers can expect to see about two-and-one-half to three minutes of paid commercial spots per 15 minute show. We think that is a good 80/20 ratio.
Talk about the stories you present, as well as your range of content?
For our first show we took an in-depth look at the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) news conference on curbside operators. We presented the ABA comments that countered a few pertinent points, such as the fact that the majority of curbside operators are solid compliant companies. We pointed out that only a few non-compliant carriers are pulling the public view of the motorcoach industry down with them.
What are some of your other topics?
We are covering the hours of service issue as it develops, and the regulatory processes in the House and Senate to improve vehicle and passenger safety. We also are expanding on the challenges motorcoach drivers face coming into Washington, D.C., reported on the ABA Top Destinations and inviting holiday attractions.
Are you inviting motorcoach charter and tour operators to come forward with news and story ideas?
We have talked about a segment that would profile operators in all parts of the country that are doing particularly good work. We have one coming up that we are very proud of on the contributions motorcoach companies are making in the effort to move military troops. They are doing a tremendous job and but have not received much publicity for their significant and generous effort.
How else might you involve motorcoach owners and operators?
We are thinking of the occasional segment on companies that do something noteworthy in their communities as a corporate citizen giving back. These are stories we like to tell. The question is the number and frequency with which we can fit them into the schedule.
Do you feel that MTN-TV is a critical component in the ABA mission and service to the motorcoach charter and tour industry?
Absolutely. I worked as a news correspondent for much my adult life, so I know how to tell stories in a visual way. We live in a very fast moving society, and most of us rely on faster sensory information sources other than print. If we are not watching we are listening. Regardless, it is always about good writing and storytelling.
We are going to present interesting stories and speak straightforward on the news from our position, especially in regard to industry safety. The NTSB feature was a perfect example.