CHARLOTTE’S A CHAMP
N E B R A S K A NA I L S I T
R AC I N O S BY A N O S E
PARTNERS 2018 PREVIEW ISSUE
2 01 7
IS PRIME IN
“THE TRUE LIGHT, WHICH GIVES LIGHT TO EVERYONE, WAS COMING INTO THE WORLD.”
—John 1:9, ESV
Come celebrate the true meaning of Christmas. Enjoy light displays, horse-drawn carriage rides, delicious holiday treats, interactive exhibits, and much more as you celebrate the Savior’s birth at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C. Dec. 1–23, 2017 • Mon. to Thur., 9:30 a.m.–9:00 p.m. • Fri. to Sat., 9:30 a.m.–10:00 p.m.
F R E E A D M I S S I O N & PA R K I N G BillyGrahamLibrary.org • 704-401-3200 • Reservations are required for groups of 10 or more; email LibraryTours@bgea.org • 4330 Westmont Drive, Charlotte, North Carolina A ministry of Billy Graham Evangelistic Association
Featuring “Churchill’s London” a three-day optional pre-tour extension program SAVE $1,000 PER COUPLE WHEN YOU BOOK BEFORE FEBRUARY 28, 2018*
MAY 20–JUNE 1 • JUNE 2–14, 2018 • SEPTEMBER 9 – 21, 2018 • OCTOBER 6 – 18, 2018
EASY COMPANY: ENGLAND TO THE EAGLE’S NEST Based on the best-selling book by Museum founder Stephen E. Ambrose, and the award-winning HBO miniseries Band of Brothers The National WWII Museum provides vivid insight into the war that changed the world, but nothing can tell its story more dramatically than a visit to the actual places where victory was fought for and won. Our program allows you to experience these journeys in first-class comfort as you go behind the scenes to the beaches, bridges, cities, and villages where crucial battles took place and history-making decisions were made. Guided by the best experts in WWII history, you’ll hear the personal stories and walk in the footsteps of the citizen soldiers who fought for the freedom we enjoy today. From the hedgerows of Normandy, along “Hell’s Highway” in the Netherlands, in the foxholes surrounding Bastogne, and atop the Eagle’s Nest, this tour immerses you in the drama of D-Day and beyond. *Terms and conditions apply. For a full list of terms and conditions, contact The National WWII Museum Travel at 1-877-813-3329 x 257
WORLD WAR II’S HISTORIC LANDMARKS
OUR FEATURED GUESTS
Shane Taylor Rick Warden Actor, Band of Brothers Actor, Band of Brothers June 2nd Departure May 20th Departure
EUROPE’S EXTRAORDINARY SITES
CALL 1-877-813-3329 X 257 TO RESERVE OR VISIT WW2MUSEUMTOURS.ORG THE NATIONAL WWII MUSEUM • 945 MAGAZINE STREET • NEW ORLEANS, LA 70130
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table ofCONTENTS VOL 27 | ISSUE 10
TRAVEL ALLIANCE PARTNERS
6 EDITOR’S MARKS
T R AV E L G U I D E
11 C H A N G I N G H O R I Z O N S
B E N E F I T S O F TA P
8 FA M I LY M AT T E R S
01 7 E C 2 D / V O
U N I Q U E T R AV E L E X P E R I E N C E S
9 INDUSTRY NEWS I
10 N E W S F R O M U S
I N T E R N AT I O N A L A D V E N T U R E S
ARTS AND MUSIC
O N THE COVE R
A tribesman displays traditional dress on Brazil’s Amazon River. Photo by Giordano Cipriani
THESE COUNTRIES ARE IDEAL WINTER DESTINATIONS.
Snapshots Unexpected experiences await in the Corn Husker State.
MAC T. LACY CHARLES A. PRESLEY BRIAN JEWELL HERBERT SPARROW DONIA SIMMONS DAVID BROWN
Founder and Publisher Partner Executive Editor Senior Writer Creative Director Art Director
K E L LY T Y N E R 4
ELIZA MYERS CHRISTINE CLOUGH SAVANNAH OSBOURN KELLY TYNER STACEY BOWMAN ASHLEY RICKS
Online Editor Copy Editor Staff Writer Director of Sales & Marketing Advertising Sales Director Marketing & Circulation Manager
The GROUP TRAVEL LEADER is published ten times a year by THE GROUP TRAVEL LEADER, Inc., 301 East High St., Lexington, Kentucky 40507, and is distributed free of charge to qualified group leaders who plan travel for groups of all ages and sizes. THE GROUP TRAVEL LEADER serves as the official magazine of GROUP TRAVEL FAMILY, the organization for traveling groups. All other travel suppliers, including tour operators, destinations, attractions, transportation companies, hotels, restaurants and other travelrelated companies may subscribe to THE GROUP TRAVEL LEADER by sending a check for $59 for one year to: THE GROUP TRAVEL LEADER, Circulation Department, 301 East High St., Lexington, KY 40507. Phone (859) 253-0455 or (859) 253-0503. Copyright THE GROUP TRAVEL LEADER, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction of editorial or graphic content in any manner without the written consent of the publisher is prohibited.
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EDITOR’S T HE
ometimes generosity doesn’t cost a cent. If you’re involved in travel as a full-time pro, a part-time enthusiast or even a sometimes volunteer, you’re in the business of delivering inspiring experiences to people who take trips with you. Some people save for years to take a trip to a bucket list destination. And though it may sound cliche, if you help them get there, you play a part in making their dreams come true. That’s the fun part anyway. Of course, no dream comes true without a lot of hard work, and if you’re executing great trips for your friends and clients, you’re no doubt putting a lot of time into planning the details. Your travelers won’t ever see how hard you work on their trips — that’s part of the magic of travel — but they’ll appreciate the highlights and the memories you help them create. Hard work pays big dividends, but it can also take a significant toll. One of the risks in working hard to plan travel is getting so bogged down in the details that you forget about the highlights. You have itineraries to plan, deposits to collect, rooming lists to compile, motorcoaches to charter and budgets to mind.
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While a trip is underway, you must constantly think several steps ahead of the rest of the group and handle any problems or delays that arise. And when you’re not traveling or planning a trip, you may be spending time attending conferences, doing destination research or marketing your organization. Given all the demands of leading group travel, it’s easy to understand how orchestrating and executing a trip could turn in to a series of to-do lists. You may be a master of productivity, but if you dwell in the details, you’re likely to forget about the fun. Each passenger becomes another account, and each stop on the itinerary becomes an exercise in herding cats. If you find yourself with this mind-set, it’s important to remember to slow down. Watch the people around you having a good time, and think about how you can make it better. There are certain things beyond your control. You can’t fix bad weather or throw in a bunch of freebies and upgrades that bust your budget. But you can find ways to connect with people, to make them feel valued, to help them create lasting memories and make a special experience a bit more special. Look for ways to be generous with your time and with your attitude. Use your smartphone to take pictures and videos of your travelers having fun, and send them instantly via text message so your customers can enjoy them on the spot. Identify people in your group that don’t fit in, and go out of your way to befriend them. At the end of a trip, you want your travelers to remember special experiences. And the more you are a part of those memories, the more likely they are to want to travel with you again.
TOURISM CARES VOLUNTEERS SPRUCE UP PROVIDENCE PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island — Some 175 travel professionals converged in Providence, Rhode Island, on September 15 to participate in a series of community service projects organized by Tourism Cares. Tourism Cares is a nationally recognized nonprofit organization that works with leading travel associations and companies to enhance the social impact of the travel industry on local communities. Volunteers worked at three different sites in the city, providing over $50,000 of donated value to the area. “Volunteers are critical to our work in parks,” said Wendy Nilsson, superintendent of the Providence Parks and Recreation Department. “Through volunteers and community partners, we are able to create unique and responsive public places that reflect our collaborative, connected and creative city.” Together, volunteers completed nearly seven weeks’ worth of work in a single day; they planted 900 plants in India Point Park and Burnside Park, painted the Riverwalk for the first time in 20 years and added a new mural outside the historic Scialos Brothers Bakery, which has stood on Federal Hill for more than 100 years. “The weather behaved. The addition of so many plants, the trimming of trees, the painting, the weeding, the brickwork, the mulching and more happened because of all of you,” Nilsson said to the volunteers following the event. “Our city is so much more sparkly than it was yesterday, and we made some new friends from all over the world.” Tourism Cares chose to highlight City Tourism in 2017 in accordance with the United Nations’ World Tourism Organization, which recognized City Tourism as a key component in the promotion of sustainable living and development. Other cities included in this year’s program are Oakland, California; Detroit; and Toronto. For more information on participating in a Tourism Cares event, visit www.tourismcares.org.
Photos courtesy Tourism Cares
OUTLAWS & ARMADILLOS EXHIBIT OPENS MAY 2018
The Outlaw phenomenon greatly expanded country music’s audience in the 1970s. Pacesetters including Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Bobby Bare, and Kris Kristofferson demanded and got greater creative freedom. A major exhibition at the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum, Outlaws and Armadillos, examines the 1970s cultures of corporate-leaning Nashville and fiercely independent Austin, and the complicated, surprising relationships between the two.
BOOK YOUR GROUP’S TOUR TODAY
#PressPlayRecord • #CMHOF50 • @CountryMusicHOF CountryMusicHallofFame.org/Groups • Downtown Nashville
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FAMILY MATTERS PL AN N OW TO AT TEND 2018 C ON FERENCES SALEM, Ohio — Travel planners across the nation are gearing up for the 2018 travel season, and there are six important travel events they should consider attending. The events are designed for travel planners that organize travel for baby boomers, the mature market, banks, churches and African-American groups. Take a look at the following travel conferences, and plan to attend. A TRAVEL PLANNER CELEBRATES DURING A SUPER BOWL PARTY AT THE 2017 SELECT TRAVELER CONFERENCE.
By Dan Dickson
• Select Traveler Conference, for bank clubs, alumni associations and chambers of commerce that travel, will be held in Louisville, Kentucky, February 4-6. • The African American Travel Conference will take place in St. Charles, Illinois, April 28-May 2.
• Going On Faith Conference is for church and faith-based travel groups and will be held in Little Rock, Arkansas, August 7-9. • Small Market Meetings Conference welcomes meeting planners to Ontario, California, September 23-25. • Boomers in Groups is designed for baby boomer travel group-travel planners and will be in French Lick, Indiana, October 26-28. There is also TravelTalks, a series of morning travel meetings held in more than 30 cities. TravelTalks is open to all travel planners. You may register for any of these travel events by calling 800-628-0993 or by visiting www.grouptravelfamily.com.
GIVE BETTER TOGETHER
Join forces with 160+ member companies and 13,000+ travel professionals to amplify your giving and marketing, and inspire your employees.
Find out more at TourismCares.org
Ad space generously donated.
a fa m i ly of br a n d s
Volunteering in Peru led to the creation of Turismo Cuida, an affiliate that has granted over $200,000 to tourism projects across the region.
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INDUSTRY NEWS NEW HOTEL TO OPEN AT MARYLAND LIVE CASINO HANOVER, Maryland — Groups traveling in the Baltimore and Washington areas will have a new option for overnight hotel stays with the opening of the Live Hotel at Maryland Live Casino. The 350,000-square-foot luxury hotel, located adjacent to the casino, will feature a 17-story hotel tower, 310 guest rooms, an event center, meeting spaces, a day spa/salon, and David’s Café, a 24/7 dining establishment. With completion scheduled for early 2018, Live Hotel will feature comfortable guest rooms designed with a modern, contemporary flare. along with public spaces showcasing floor-to-ceiling windows, high ceilings accented with striking chandeliers, and wood and polished marble throughout. The Grand Event Center will house a 1,500seat concert venue with built-in performance stage and banquet seating for up to 800 guests. Dining options include David’s Café, with dishes inspired by Chairman David Cordish’s world travels. Guests can relax at the Live Spa luxury day spa and salon, featuring high-end products, a full menu of spa services and a state-of-the-art fitness center. “We are now one step closer to creating an experience that does not currently exist in the region today,” said David Cordish, chairman of The Cordish Companies. “Nowhere else can you find this mix of dynamic gaming, first-class accommodations, entertainment, dining, and retail, plus our trademark customer service. Guests know that when they come here, they are treated like part of our family.” Located within the Arundel Mills Commercial District next to Arundel Mills Mall, Maryland Live Casino features more than 200 table games, including a poker room; approximately 4,000 of the latest slot machines; and two high limit rooms W W W. M A RY L A N DL I V EC ASI NO.COM
THE NEW LIVE HOTEL AT MARYLAND LIVE CASINO WILL FEATURE 310 GUEST ROOMS, A SPA AND A RESTAURANT.
Courtesy Maryland Live Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
Heartland Travel Showcase
FEB. 16-18, 2018 • BUFFALO, NY
Register Today at heartlandtravelshowcase.com or call Karen Eylon at 1-800-896-4682 Ext. 4
Questions? Email Karen at email@example.com
Grow Your Business at Heartland Travel Showcase 99% of Tour Operators Who Attended HTS in 2017 Were Satisfied with Their Appointments and Overall Experience! Heartland Travel Showcase is filled with unmatched destinations and sellable group ideas in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Ontario. Grow your business, and build relationships at one of the largest regional group tour showcases in the country.
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NEWS FROM US
OFFICIAL RIVER CRUISE GUIDE FOR GROUPS COMING IN 2018 THE OFFICIAL RIVER CRUISE GUIDE FOR GROUPS WILL HIGHLIGHT THE AMENITIES AND DESTINATIONS OFFERED ON POPULAR RIVER CRUISES.
Courtesy Emerald Waterways
he Group Travel Leader Inc. will publish the industry’s Official River Cruise Guide for Groups in October 2018 and distribute it to more than 30,000 travel planners and travel agents through its print and digital editions. The freestanding magazine will mail with the September/October issue of Select Traveler and the October issue of The Group Travel Leader and will highlight river cruise products now being offered on six continents. “Over the past two decades, river cruising has emerged as one of the fastest-growing segments of the travel industry, and preformed groups are a key component of that growth,” said publisher Mac Lacy. “New and improved vessels are introduced each year, and there is a large growth curve yet to come for this relatively new travel segment.” The Official River Cruise Guide for Groups will include multipage sections on the following: • The most popular rivers for cruising in North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, South America and Australia. Each river will be defined for first-time cruisers using its cultural offerings, regional cuisine, historic sites, primary ports and other details. • Types of vessels and products now being offered based on an ever-evolving product line.
CIVIL RIGHTS TRAIL TRAVEL PL ANNER COMING IN MARCH
he Group Travel Leader Inc. has been selected to publish a new Civil Rights Trail Travel Planner in March. This publication will coincide with the formation of a comprehensive travel trail and will illustrate roughly 140 key sites across the South that commemorate civil rights events that occurred between 1954 and 1968. Internationally known sites such as the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, where four young girls attending Sunday School lost their lives in a bombing on September 15, 1963, to the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968, will be highlighted. Articles will also cover dozens of
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other well-known and lesser-known sites that were critical to this era in American history. “When Liz Bittner and Lee Sentell of Travel South USA asked if we’d like to be involved in this major new trail for travelers throughout the South, we were honored,” said publisher Mac Lacy. “America’s civil rights era is fundamental to our history as a nation, and we have covered so many of these iconic sites for interested travelers over the past 25 years.” For information about advertising your city or state’s key sites in the Civil Rights Trail Travel Planner, contact Kelly Tyner or Stacey Bowman at 888-253-0455 or go to www.grouptravelleader.com. Advertising closes February 1.
Shore excursions and sightseeing options; bicycling and walking tours; special events; and iconic beer, wine, and spirits regions will be identified. • A definitive Q&A section with participating river cruise and tour companies. Cruise and travel executives will share their best advice for preformed groups about how to enjoy worldwide river cruising. • Detailed product and vessel information sections for participating river cruise companies and tour operators. Premium advertising positions will also be available. “From the most traveled rivers, like America’s Mississippi and Europe’s Danube and Rhine, to more exotic options, like Southeast Asia’s Mekong and South America’s Amazon, the world’s classic rivers now offer some of the very best means of enjoying its most-dreamed-about travel destinations,” said Lacy. “The Official River Cruise Guide for Groups will illustrate that reality for thousands of group decision-makers each October.” For more information about how to participate in the 2018 edition, call Stacey Bowman or Kelly Tyner toll-free at 888-253-0455, or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
KELLY INGRAM PARK IS AMONG THE MOST SIGNIFICANT CIVIL RIGHTS SITES IN BIRMINGHAM.
Courtesy Greater Birmingham CVB
CRUISING EUROPE ON THE NORWEGIAN GETAWAY
BY B O B H O E L S C H E R
n Copenhagen, Denmark, during late September, my traveling companion, “Di” Varnell, and I boarded Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Getaway for a late-season, ninenight Baltic sailing that featured an attractive itinerary the ship had repeated throughout the late spring and summer months. Along our route were several of Northern Europe’s storied capital cities, as well as two days in St. Petersburg, Russia. It’s important to note that the Getaway, one of the company’s newest vessels, is big — very big — which allows guests to choose from an astounding variety of top-notch onboard activities, entertainment and dining venues that were designed to suit virtually every taste. We cruised with about 4,000 other guests aboard this mammoth, 1,068-foot long, 145,655-ton, immaculately maintained vessel. As is typical for the line, food and service were uniformly excellent, and the extra-cost “specialty dining” restaurants — we enjoyed Cagney’s Steakhouse and the Moderno Churrascaria — offer fantastic settings for celebrating a special occasion. All together, there are some two dozen ways and places to get something to eat. However, my best reason for recommending Norwegian Getaway is that I’ve never encountered a staff on a vessel in any price category that was more friendly, welcoming, professional and helpful than I found here. The people made a huge difference. Even mass morning shore excursion departures, sheer bedlam on some ships, were extremely well handled. After Copenhagen, where a pre-cruise overnight stay afforded ample time for exploring on our own, we visited modern Berlin, which we reached by chartered train from the port at Rostock/Warneműnde. Berlin has been totally rebuilt since World War II and the subsequent days of the notorious Berlin Wall. In the beautiful old cities of Tallinn, Estonia, and Stockholm, hop-on/hop-off bus tours were an affordable way to help us get our bearings before we headed off on foot to see the many fascinating sights, both historic and contemporary. In St. Petersburg, cruise guests without formal Russian visas can take only organized shore excursions sold aboard ship; we chose excursions to the magnificent Peterhof summer palace, the world-famous Hermitage
Museum and other splendid area attractions. Unfortunately, late in our stay here, high winds and waves delayed Norwegian Getaway from safely exiting the rather narrow and shallow harbor channel, so we were forced to spend a second night at the city’s cruise ship facility and forgo our scheduled stop in Helsinki. Nevertheless, it was 1999 when I last visited all these Baltic ports, so it was most interesting to see what changes had been made in the past 18 years, especially in Berlin and St. Petersburg. Many people think the life of a cruise and travel writer is pretty much ideal and are surprised when I tell them that like most other jobs, there are good days and bad days. For some reason, several of the latter cropped up on this trip, but they had nothing whatsoever to do with Norwegian Getaway. First, the airlines lost my luggage, leaving me in Europe with only the bare essentials. Next, my wallet was stolen by a pair of pickpockets in St. Petersburg. After that, I was without clothes, money or credit cards to deal with a full month of travel on the continent. Happily, most of my arrangements were prepaid, and with some welcome assistance from Di, my bank and both the cruise lines involved, as well as a few emergency purchases, I was able to cope pretty well. PETERHOF SUMMER PALACE, ST. PETERSBURG, RUSSIA
VASA MUSEUM, STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN
Photos by Bob Hoelscher
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O B L I T E R AT E the
Blahs by BRIAN JEWELL
Courtesy German National Tourist Board
ho doesn’t want to get away in winter? Ice, snow and cold can make winter travel a drag in America, but that doesn’t mean the season is meant for staying home. In countries on every continent, the months between December and March offer excellent opportunities to explore cultures and climates that differ wildly from our own. Taking your group abroad in winter opens a world of possibilities, from perusing handcrafted ornaments at German Christmas markets to watching animals on safari in South Africa or joining a samba parade in Brazil. As the temperatures drop, check out these winter travel destinations for ideas to plan your group’s next international adventure.
17 C 20
Courtesy Tourism Authority of Thailand Courtesy
YO U R G RO U P I S A F L I G H T O R T WO AWAY F RO M A WO R L D - C L AS S W I N T E R
With picturesque villages and fairy tale castles, Germany can feel like a storybook destination at any time of year. During the holiday season, though, cities and towns throughout the country take on an extra layer of magic. Many of the iconic traditions of Christmas in America originated with German customs, so a holiday journey to Germany is something of a Christmas-lover’s pilgrimage. SEASONAL EXPERIENCE: Winter cold comes early in Germany, but locals use the turning of the seasons to prepare for the Christmas markets that have become an iconic part of the holidays. Known locally as “kristkindlmarkts,” these outdoor festivals take place in big cities and small towns alike. Visitors will find dozens or hundreds of vendors selling holiday decorations and other handmade goods, as well as live holiday music, roaring fires and plenty of mulled wine to take the edge off the cold.
SEASONAL EXPERIENCE: Plan your winter trip to coincide with Carnival, the Brazilian equivalent of Mardi Gras in the United States. The dates vary year to year, but Carnival takes place in mid to late winter and features citywide celebrations that put all but the most raucous Mardi Gras parties to shame. The centerpiece of Carnival is the samba parade, which can feature hundreds or thousands of participants with percussion instruments and elaborate costumes. The samba parade at Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival takes place in the Sambadrome, a stadium built especially for those festivities. TOP ATTRACTIONS: Many of the most famous Brazilian attractions are in Rio. Groups will want to see Sugar Loaf Mountain as well as the massive Christ the Redeemer statue, which stands hundreds of feet above the city. Beyond the city, Iguacu Falls on the border with Argentina features a semicircle of 247 waterfalls.
TOP ATTRACTIONS: Germany’s most-visited sites tell compelling stories of its history. Cologne’s Kolner Dom cathedral was built on the banks of the Rhine in 1248. In Bavaria, the 1869 Neuschwanstein Castle was the inspiration for the castles at Walt Disney’s theme parks. And Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate was built in 1791 and was later a symbolic part of the Berlin Wall.
WHILE YOU’RE THERE: River cruises on the Amazon are surging in popularity and offer groups the opportunity to see exotic wildlife and get to know Brazil’s indigenous people groups.
WHILE YOU’RE THERE: Don’t miss the opportunity to sample traditional German sausages, mustard and pretzels in restaurants around the country, some of which have been operating for hundreds of years.
It takes a long time to get to Australia — flight times from Los Angeles to Sydney average around 14 hours — but groups that make the trip are rewarded with stunning vistas, memorable experiences and a vibrant culture. Since the continent is in the Southern Hemisphere, its seasons are opposite to ours, making a winter departure from the United States a summer arrival in Australia.
— W W W.GER M A N Y.T R AV EL —
With one of the fastest-growing economies in South America, Brazil is increasingly earning attention among Americans. Famous for its beaches and its tropical climate, Brazil also has a host of attractions and events that highlight its unique culture and heritage. While the long months of winter seem to drag on in America, Brazil enjoys 80-degree temperatures throughout January and February, making winter a good time to take a group for some fun in the sun.
— W W W.V ISI T BR ASI L .ORG —
SEASONAL EXPERIENCE: Summer is a great time to visit almost any part of Australia, but it’s especially memorable in the tropical climate of Darwin and the Northern Territory. Ecotours through the region highlight overflowing creeks and blooming flowers, with stops to swim in waterfalls, watch tropical birds and overnight at nature lodges in stunning national parks. For an unforgettable experience, schedule a
OPPOSITE PAGE TOP: A GERMAN CHRISTMAS MARKET AT NIGHT OPPOSITE PAGE BOTTOM: TRADITIONAL BOATS NEAR THAILAND’S PHI PHI ISLAND GROUPTRAVELLEADER.COM
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helicopter ride over Katherine Gorge at Nitmiluk National Park when it is brimming with water. TOP ATTRACTIONS: Any group visiting Australia will want to spend time in Sydney, where the group can take a cruise under the massive Harbor Bridge or enjoy dinner and a concert at the striking Sydney Opera House. Groups also love Cairns, gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, where they can enjoy snorkeling expeditions and glass-bottom-boat cruises. WHILE YOU’RE THERE: If you make the trip all the way to Australia’s west coast, there are abundant opportunities to enjoy the Indian Ocean, including the opportunity to see dolphins, whales, manta rays, turtles and sharks at the Shark Bay World Heritage Area. — W W W. AUST R A L I A.COM —
Long considered an exotic destination, Southeast Asia has recently begun to surge in popularity with Americans, as more tour operators and cruise lines begin to offer trips there. Chief among favorite destinations in the region is Thailand. The area’s tropical climate makes winter a fantastic time to visit. December through April are considered peak tourism months, as the rainy season starts in spring and continues through fall. SEASONAL EXPERIENCE: Festivals dot the calendar throughout December, January and February, making winter a colorful time to visit Thailand. The entire country celebrates the birthday of a beloved former king in early December. January brings the Chiang Mai Winter Fair, an exciting arts, music and athletics festival. Then, in February, the Bangkok China Town Festival is a celebration of the traditional Chinese New Year.
THAILAND’S RAILAY BAY
CHINESE NEW YEAR IN BANGKOK
Courtesy Tourism Authority of Thailand
TOP ATTRACTIONS: Thailand is renowned for its beaches. Railay Beach in Krabi province boasts white sand and crystal blue water, with a backdrop of dense vegetation atop towering cliffs. After a day on the beach, visitors to the island can go elephant trekking, kayaking or snorkeling. Another popular resort area, Koh Phi Phi, is home to Monkey Beach, where visitors can have up-close encounters with mischievous primates. WHILE YOU’RE THERE: Thailand has a number of important religious and ceremonial sites. The Grand Palace in Bangkok is a maze of halls and Buddhist temples, and visitors learn about the country’s history and religious traditions through the art and architecture of the palace complex. — W W W.T OU R ISM TH A I L A N D.ORG —
At the southernmost point of Africa, South Africa is a world away from most residents of the United States. This means not only that the country is at the opposite of the seasonal spectrum, experiencing summer during the American winter, but also that it offers opportunities to encounter natural beauty and wildlife unlike anything you’re likely to find in North America. Add the country’s inspiring 20th-century history, and you have a wealth of reasons to head to South Africa in winter. SEASONAL EXPERIENCE: Christmas is an earlysummer holiday in South Africa, and locals celebrate it in much the same way Americans celebrate Memorial Day — by getting outdoors. December is a popular time for South Africans to visit their country’s game reserves and national parks, and groups making the trek should spend some time on safari as well. The best-known site is Kruger National Park, where lion, elephant, zebra and giraffe sightings are frequent, but there are numerous other places to enjoy the South African summer outdoors as well.
Courtesy Tourism Authority of Thailand
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Courtesy Chicago Cultural Alliance
TOP ATTRACTIONS: Nobody should visit South Africa without spending time in its two principal cities. Cape Town is considered by many travelers to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world and is the jumping-off point for excursions to Robben Island, where visitors can tour the prison where Nelson Mandela was held for years. Groups can learn more about Mandela’s story at the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, the largest city in South Africa. WHILE YOU’RE THERE: Just a short drive from Cape Town, Stellenbosch is a quaint college town surrounded by a world-class wine-growing region. Groups can enjoy leisurely lunches and wine tastings at numerous wineries in the area. — W W W.SOU TH A FR IC A. N E T —
TASTING WINE IN STELLENBOSCH, SOUTH AFRICA
SOUTH AFRICAN WILDLIFE
Photos by Brian Jewell
ENJOYING A GERMAN HOLIDAY
Courtesy German National Tourist Board
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L AKE COUN T Y
2 1 QUAD CI TIE S
BY B R I A N J E W E L L
3 C H I C AG O
t’s time to plan a return trip to Illinois.
Many groups have vis-
ited Chicago, one of the most
popular tourist destinations
H A M I LT O N
in the United States. But if you haven’t
taken your group to the Windy City — or
the rest of the state — recently, there are a lot of great new developments you haven’t seen before.
Chicago has lots of new attractions
for groups to discover, among them the
American Writers Museum and significant upgrades to Navy Pier and the
Chicago Riverwalk. Nearby in Lake County, a new Great Wolf Lodge resort
will make an excellent place for student
groups to stay and play as part of their tour of the area.
There’s more new development to dis-
cover along the Mississippi River on the
state’s western border. In Rock Island, part of the Quad Cities area, a 1909 mansion is
open to the public for the first time in many
years. And further south in Hamilton, a magnificent modern estate is now open for groups to tour.
Photos courtesy Illinois Office of Tourism
HISTORIC PRAIRIE HOME On Illinois’ eastern border with Iowa, the Quad Cities area comprises several towns separated by the Mississippi River. Many of the attractions and activities in the area focus on the river and the region’s agricultural heritage. But groups can now get tours of one of the Quad Cities’ most distinctive structures: the Hauberg Center in Rock Island. Built for a local couple in 1909, the Hauberg Center is a historic estate with a pedigree in design and decoration. Architect Robert C. Spencer, a contemporary of Frank Lloyd Wright, employed the popular Prairie School style in his plans for the home. The surrounding gardens were created by renowned landscape architect Jens Jensen. After serving as a family home for decades, the estate was given to the city of Rock Island, which used it as a civic center. Now it is open to the visiting public. Docents offer 45-minute tours of the home that highlight its history, its architecture and stories of the family that lived there.
LAKEFRONT FUN Chicago has long been a favorite destination for student groups from throughout the Midwest. In 2018, student and youth groups that travel to the area will be able to add some fun to their Chicago trips by staying at the Great Wolf Lodge in Lake County, about an hour north of downtown Chicago on the Lake Michigan shore. Great Wolf Lodge properties are known for their indoor water parks, and this edition will be no exception. The Great Wolf Lodge Illinois will feature an 80,000-square-foot indoor water park with dozens of slides and water attractions when it opens next summer. The park will be nearly double the size of some other Great Wolf water parks and will feature some brand-new attractions. In addition to the water rides, the resort will feature 414 guest suites and a variety of dining options. The complex will also include a spa, a miniature golf course and a bowling alley. W W W.G RE AT WO L F.C O M / I L LI N O I S
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WINDY CITY UPDATES Tourism development never stops in Chicago, and this year, a new museum and significant upgrades to existing attractions are giving groups new reasons to visit the Windy City. Opened this spring, the American Writers Museum is the only museum of its kind in the nation. Located downtown, it celebrates influential American writers from more than 500 years of American literary history. The museum offers themed galleries and interactive exhibits, and numerous educational programs are available for groups. On the shore of Lake Michigan, Navy Pier celebrated its 100th anniversary this year with various enhancements along its milelong stretch. In addition to new dining and entertainment and landscaping features, groups returning to the pier will marvel at the Centennial Ferris Wheel, which stands 200 feet high. Nearby, the banks of the Chicago River have been transformed into the Chicago Riverwalk, a pedestrian-friendly area with kayak rentals and water taxis. W W W.C H O O S E C H I CAG O.C O M
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4 A MODERN MANSION Many groups are accustomed to visiting historic mansions during their trips around the country. But in Hamilton, a town on Illinois’ Great River Road, groups can see a modern architectural marvel that dwarfs all but the grandest of historic homes. The 28,000-square-foot Hoffman Mansion was built in 2006 by a wealthy local industrialist. This estate sits directly on the banks of the Mississippi River, and many of its 21 bedrooms offer sweeping riverfront views. The mansion has been used as a private home and as a luxury overnight and event venue for some time; now the owners have opened it up for public tours as well. Full tours of the mansion take up to three hours, so most groups opt for shorter visits that give an overview of the grand entryway and some of the distinctive rooms on the main floor. During the experience, guests see intricate wood millwork, imported marble details and handmade furniture, as well as the family’s private art collection. W W W.H O F F M A N M A N S I O N.C O M
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B R AW N Y
Gabi Logan All photos courtesyBy Visit Nebraska
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COME FOR THE
C OR N H U S KER AU THENT I CI T Y A SODA FOUNTAIN AT OMAHA’S DURHAM MUSEUM
BY E L I ZA B E T H H E Y
ebraska is a land of surprises. Omaha and Lincoln, the state’s two largest cities, will welcome your group with sophisticated dining, shopping and an abundance of fine arts. Further west, nature lovers can see a show rarely seen elsewhere. Situated directly on North America’s Central Flyway, Nebraska sees thousands of species of migratory birds each spring and fall, and the area’s sandhill crane migration is the world’s largest. Add in the breadth and depth of Nebraska’s arts and culture, and the smorgasbord continues. Among the wide range of museum exhibits are Cold War aircraft and pioneer memorabilia, worldfamous paintings and a 1930s soda fountain that still serves phosphates. The only difficulty in planning your itinerary in the Cornhusker State will be deciding what to include. OMAHA Omaha impresses visitors with a variety of cultural options. Constructed of pink granite, the Joslyn Art Museum is Nebraska’s most comprehensive fine art institution and features a prominent American West collection. For an intimate art experience, head to nearby Hot Shops Art Center, which features more than 80 studio artists and glassblowing demonstrations. Theater and music buffs can attend Broadway shows and performances at the historic Orpheum Theater and the Holland Performing Arts Center. The Omaha Community Playhouse offers yearround productions as the nation’s largest community theater. Jazz on the Green finds people jamming to national and local jazz musicians at Midtown Crossing’s free summer concerts. The Durham Museum houses train cars and a 1930s soda fountain in Omaha’s former Union Station. Museum tours include overviews of the Art Deco building, considered the most significant
artifact. Christmas at Union Station boasts the region’s largest indoor tree, an Ethnic Holiday Festival and a concert series. “Omaha makes a terrific destination for groups during warm weather and the winter months,” said Tracie McPherson, director of communications for Visit Omaha. “For instance, the zoo’s Desert Dome ranks as the world’s largest indoor desert, and groups can rent snowshoes at Fontanelle Forest, which supports injured raptors.” En route to Lincoln, the Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum houses an outstanding Cold War collection that includes an SR-71 Blackbird and 35 additional military aircraft. Complimentary tours are led by former military pilots and crew members. Nearby Mahoney State Park offers outdoor activities, and most guest rooms at its Peter Kiewit Lodge overlook the Platte River. LINC OLN As the state capital, Lincoln is equally as sophisticated as Omaha. Since 1990, the Lied Center for the Performing Arts has brought the world’s greatest artists of music, dance and theater to Nebraska. At the Sheldon Museum of Art, on the University of Nebraska at Lincoln campus, events include First Fridays, lunchtime chats with curators and artists, and film screenings. At the University of Nebraska State Museum-Morrill Hall, groups can journey back to prehistoric times and get up close to Helicoprion, a 13-foot shark with buzz-saw-like teeth at the “Bizarre Beasts” exhibit. Tours abound in Lincoln. Speedway Motors’ Museum of American Speed holds one of the world’s largest collections of racing engines. Private event space is available for lunch or evening receptions before or after a self-guided or docent-led tour. Football fans can tour Memorial Stadium and view the Hawks Championship Center and training room before stepping onto the turf. Your group can tour the Governor’s Mansion — Thursdays only —
opt for a Capitol tour and stop for lunch at Billy’s Restaurant, named after William Jennings Bryan and located in the elegant 1887 Noble-Dawes House, all within walking distance of one another. Food lovers will appreciate the farm-to-table approach at Lakehouse Farm and Prairie Plate, where they can tour the organic farm and dine lakeside. Groups can taste local craft brews at Blue Blood Brewery, which sits above Robbers Cave. After lunch, groups can tour the 5,000-squarefoot maze of sandstone tunnels. Aboveground in summer, there’s live entertainment on an outside stage. The Historic Haymarket and the Railyard Entertainment District showcase restaurants, shopping, music, free movies and a skating rink in winter. “We offer 60- to 90-minute guided walking tours of the Haymarket that are steeped in history,” said Kelsey Bousquet, group sales manager for the Lincoln Convention and Visitors Bureau. “And during cocktail hour, groups can take their drinks from one bar to the next.” NEBRASKA CIT Y Founded in 1854 on the Missouri River in the state’s southeast, Nebraska City quickly became a jumping-off spot for the Oregon Trail. Central Avenue’s business district, the former trail route, invites shoppers to browse its boutiques for unique finds. History buffs can learn about the city’s early days at the Old Freighters Museum and the Kreigel Windmill Factory Museum. And visitors to the Lewis and Clark Missouri River Basin Visitors Center experience the sights and sounds of this famous expedition. “Nebraska City’s 11 museums focus on history, and most offer group tours and will accommodate off-hours requests,” said Amy Allgood, executive director for Nebraska City Tourism. “Autumn is an especially beautiful time to visit, with our colorful foliage.” September’s annual AppleJack Festival kicks
NEBRASKA SIGHTS, OPPOSITE PAGE, CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: KOLACHES AT CZECH DAYS IN WILBER; STRATEGIC AIR COMMAND AND AEROSPACE MUSEUM; KEARNEY’S MUSEUM OF NEBRASKA ART; SANDHILL CRANE MIGRATION GROUPTRAVELLEADER.COM
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WILLA CATHER MEMORIAL PRAIRIE
A POWWOW AT FORT ROBINSON STATE PARK
off with a downtown parade, the AppleJack Craft Fair and the River City Classic Car Show. Orchards offer hayrack rides and you-pick apples. The Arbor Lodge State Historical Park honors the legacy of J. Sterling Morton, whose stately, 52-room mansion was surrounded by more than 260 species of trees. Costumed docents lead house tours, and living-history weekends in the fall feature vintage baseball and Victorian crafts. Adding to your group’s experience, the Adirondack-style Lied Lodge and Conference Center, originally designed and built by the Arbor Day Foundation, attracts guests with an Olympic-size indoor pool and newly remodeled rooms. KEARNEY Arriving in waves from late February to early April, with their numbers peaking in March, more than 600,000 sandhill cranes converge on the Platte River Valley near Kearney. It’s the world’s largest gathering of these birds, which stop to rest and feed before flying to their summer breeding grounds in the far north. Optimum viewing begins 30 minutes before sunrise and sunset. The Rowe Sanctuary provides blinds overlooking the river; reservations open January 2. The Audubon Nebraska Crane
THE ARCHWAY SANDHILL CRANE MIGRATION Crane festival: march 22-25, 2018
MUSEUM OF NEBRASKA ART 22
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Artwork by Donia Simmons
Festival features birding experts and guided field trips, March 22-25. “The migration is unique because groups can take both morning and late-afternoon birding tours with different experiences each time,” said Roger Jasnoch, director of the Kearney Visitors Bureau. “With about six hours in between, groups can explore other attractions.” Additional attractions include the Great Platte River Road Archway Monument, which spans Interstate 80 and commemorates the California, Oregon and Mormon trails. The Classic Car Collection, on the campus of the local Cabela’s outdoor store, displays 200 vintage cars from the early 1900s to the 1970s. Fort Kearney can host a lunch or an evening around a campfire while docents recount its role in westward expansion. Affectionately called the MONA, the Museum of Nebraska Art celebrates artists who were born, trained or worked in Nebraska. The museum’s gift shop sells original art and Nebraska-related books. RED CLOUD The National Willa Cather Center, located in south-central Red Cloud, honors its hometown Pulitzer Prize-winning author. Although Cather’s 20th-century novels reflect her Midwestern roots, she also wrote stories about Canada, the Southwest and Virginia. Red Cloud claims the nation’s largest collection of historic sites dedicated to one author. Dedicated in June, the center hosts workshops and film screenings, and groups can schedule lectures during their visits. A monthly production takes place at the Red Cloud Opera House, site of Cather’s 1890 high school graduation speech. Town excursions include Cather’s childhood home and six other sites. Cather’s love of the prairie extends to the unplowed, 612-acre Willa Cather Memorial Prairie, which features three hiking loops. “The country tour covers 10 to 15 sites, including the family’s homestead between Red Cloud and Bladen,” said Jarrod McCartney, heritage tourism director for Red Cloud. “The actual farmhouse from ‘My Antonia’ is on the itinerary, and people can relive the end of the novel there.” GROUPTRAVELLEADER.COM
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CHAMPIONS BY E L I ZA M Y E R S
CHARLOT TE HAS BECOME A GRE AT A MERIC AN TOWN
CHARLOTTE MOTOR SPEEDWAY
isitors can feel the force of driving at 160 miles per hour, get stomach butterflies from rafting up a tall wave or experience the excitement of steering their own Segway vehicle at experiential sports attractions in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Queen City’s passion for sports runs deep, with stadiums and arenas seemingly around every corner. Charlotte hosts more than 200 sporting events a year, and past events have included a PGA Championship and a NASCAR All-Star Race. Groups can not only watch these events from the sidelines but also jump into their own NASCAR vehicle at the Richard Petty Driving Experience. The city’s wide-ranging experiential sports activities include such options as the wet and wild rapids at the U.S. National White Water Center, the calmer Segway city tours and NASCAR race simulations.
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All photos couresy charlottesgotalot.com By Kyo H Nam
RICHARD PET T Y DRIVING E XPERIENCE At the Richard Petty Driving Experience, participants can choose between riding around a track with a professional driver for breakneck speeds or hopping into the driver’s seat themselves. The company offers three- or six-lap shotgun rides or firsthand racing sessions that last five minutes or more. “On the ride-along experience, you reach speeds greater than 150 miles per hour,” said Kristen Moore, communications manager for the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority. “You can feel that force when you round the turn. It’s a really cool experience.” The race cars zoom around the Charlotte Motor Speedway, which hosts numerous prestigious NASCAR events, such as the Bank of America 500. Richard Petty, nicknamed the King of NASCAR, started the program to introduce fans to the thrill of maneuvering a powerful race car. Those who drive themselves meet for classroom instruction before hitting the accelerator. Once behind the wheel, they can pass other drivers, use car radios and halt for pit stops. NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017
U. S . N AT I O N A L W H I T E WAT E R C E N T E R
U.S NATIONAL WHITEWATER CENTER
NASCAR HALL OF FAME
N A S C A R H A L L O F FA M E For people who have always wondered whether they could reach the speeds of professional NASCAR drivers, there is no easier way to test their skills than at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. “It’s an interactive experience and not a museum,” said Moore. “They have a really handson experience with realistic simulations. It’s all experiential learning.” The Racing Simulators exhibit offers one of the most realistic virtual driving experiences that technology can provide. Guests can race alongside up to 15 virtual cars for a hands-on way to discover the many complications that arise on a lap around the track. Simulated races are broadcasted on a 50-foot video screen so group members can cheer each other on. The NASCAR Hall of Fame features more than 50 interactive attractions, such as the Pit Crew Challenge. Nearly 1,000 artifacts and 40,000 square feet of exhibit space also pay tribute to the history and heritage of NASCAR. The site introduces guests to the NASCAR world with a primer video at the Belk High Octane Theater. From there, Glory Road houses 18 race cars built for speed on a 33-degree banked ramp. The Hall of Honor showcases its honorees on a 360-degree wall for an impressive visual effect. GROUPTRAVELLEADER.COM
Paddlers zig right and zag left as water tosses them down the rapids at the U.S. National Whitewater Center. The center is home to the world’s largest man-made whitewater river, a rock wall, zip lines and other outdoor adventure attractions. Groups can paddle down 12 million gallons of water on one or both whitewater routes. The Wilderness Channel offers calmer Class II and III rapids, and the Competition Channel delivers heart-pounding Class III and IV rapids. “They can create a program around building communication, leadership or just a shared experience,” said Moore. “It can be very generic like rafting with a group or customized into an adventure race where the teams compete.” The center also offers other adventures by water, including kayaking on the rapids or standup paddleboarding and flatwater kayaking at the nearby Catawba River. Whitewater kayakers might float past Olympic hopefuls, since the route serves as an official Olympic Training Center for the sport. To look down on the center’s 1,300 acres from above, guests can enjoy zip lines, ropes courses, a canopy tour and rock climbing. On the first permanent deep-water solo climbing complex in the world, participants climb without ropes or harnesses on a wall that arches over a 20-footdeep pool. Climbers release from the wall and fall into the pool at the completion of the challenge. The center also offers bicycle trails and low ropes challenge courses amid the forested interior. After raising the heart rate, groups can marvel over the day’s adventures at the on-site Pump House Biergarten or the River’s Edge Bar and Grill.
S E G WAY T O U R S Instead of slowly walking through the city, guests can glide throughout Charlotte’s interesting parks, buildings and neighborhoods on a Segway. The city’s only locally owned full-service tour company, Charlotte NC Tours offers both Segway and bicycle tours as an active way to experience the history, food and famous sites of the Queen City. The popular Segway tours range in length from the one-hour Fun Ride to the two-hour Markets, Museums and Parks Tour. Topics include the Dilworth-Myers Park’s hip spaces, some acclaimed tastes along the Taste and Glide Tour and the city’s diverse architecture in historic Uptown. “It’s a great intro to the city,” said Moore. “You get a training on the Segway when you go in. The guides there are awesome. They tell you everything you don’t know about Charlotte.” One-on-one training with guides ensures that each participant learns to comfortably maneuver a Segway before departing. Usually within five to 10 minutes of personalized instruction, riders feel confident enough to take off. Guides then take the riders along sidewalks and paths while passionately sharing the intriguing history of the area. The bicycle tours offer a similar experience with more exercise involved. The three-hour Southern Food Bicycle Tour allows riders to work off their calories as they dine at culinary hot spots such as the Seventh Street Public Market, Mert’s Heart and Soul, and Alexander Michael’s. CHARLOTTE NC TOURS’ SEGWAY EXPEDITION
KINDRED’S FRIED OYSTERS
CH ARLOT TE CVB —WWW.CHARLOTTESGOTALOT.COM —
By Kyo H Nam
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AND THEY’RE OFF!
R ACI NOS COM BI N E L I V E HOR SE R ACI NG W I T H C A SI NO G A M I NG B Y DA N D I C K S O N
ong before there were slot machines, there was horse racing. Large-scale casino resorts attract a lot of attention from travelers today, but gaming in America started with racetracks long before Las Vegas existed. Horse racing offers a mix of sport, pageantry and betting excitement that has been a part of the American entertainment scene for centuries. Today, many of America’s racetracks have expanded beyond parimutuel betting to include a variety of options for guests. Some have added slot machines and video lottery, and others now feature fullservice casinos on-site complete with table games, luxurious restaurants and overnight accommodations. Here are five of these so-called racinos to consider for your group’s next trip.
HOOSIER PARK IN INDIANA HAS 2,000 SLOT MACHINES.
HOOSIER PARK HARNESS RACING
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HOOSIER PARK RACING AND CASINO ANDERSON, INDIANA
Hoosier Park, a little northeast of Indianapolis, is a racino with standardbred harness racing, casino gambling, entertainment, restaurants and a gift shop. “We offer live harness racing April through November,” said Kiersten Flint, spokeswoman at the facility. “Our casino has 54,000 square feet of gaming space and 2,000 slot machines that are open 24/7 with play denominations ranging from just a penny up to $100.” For those who join the exclusive players club, Club Centaur, frequent cash drawings add to the excitement. Also adding to the entertainment value of the complex are a 1,200-seat showroom and an outdoor music theater that can seat 5,000 to 6,000 guests. Many top musical acts have rocked the stages in recent years. Groups are more than welcome at Hoosier Park. “We host all kinds of them: families, friends, co-workers, you name it,” said Flint. “We have a lot of unique spaces for groups to use around the property, and we employ a great group sales team that works hard with the group leaders to tailor the perfect event for them.” For added convenience, the racino also offers round-trip motorcoach transportation from outlying Indiana cities such as Indianapolis, Lafayette and Fort Wayne. Sometimes groups want some extra-special treatment while at the track or casino. For example, a tour of the track’s backside can be a fun behindthe-scenes experience for racing fans or the uninitiated. “We can tailor each experience to just that particular group,” Flint said. “Our backside tours are quite extensive and often include intimate encounters with some of the horses and their trainers and owners.” W W W. HOOSI ER PA R K .COM
A CONCERT AT HOOSIER PARK RACING AND CASINO
Photos courtesy Hoosier Park NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017
REMINGTON PARK RACING AND CASINO OKLAHOMA CITY
Remington Park is a busy place year-round, with horse racing, casino gaming, festivals, parties, games and other special events that give visitors something unusual to do when they visit the complex. When it comes to racing, the track has a lot of dates. “We run two live racing seasons,” said Dale Day, the track’s announcer and communications manager. “We have an Appaloosa, Paint and quarter horse season from March to June — 50 days, usually. We take the summer off and come back the last week before Labor Day with the thoroughbred season and run to around Christmas. That is a 67-date schedule.” Aside from live racing, the track offers simulcast racing every day. The casino boasts 750 state-of-the-art electronic gaming machines, though there are no table games. The casino underwent a major renovation last year. Day said the complex will book many group events, parties and functions each year. Staff can section off large areas of the facility to accommodate guests in the hundreds. A variety of suites are also available. All types of groups use the facilities. “The bulk of it is local,” said Day. “We do racing parties, graduation, bachelor and bachelorette parties, weddings and receptions, many family and other types of reunions, and corporate groups.” The facility is known for accommodating groups’ wishes, so group planners need only ask to begin the dialogue. Group participants are encouraged to join Club Remington. Members can earn points by playing in the casino, betting on horses, buying food or beverages in the restaurants and bars, and buying merchandise in the gift shop. Then points can be redeemed for free play in the casino and free bets on racing.
PRESQUE ISLE DOWNS AND CASINO ERIE, PENNSYLVANIA
At Presque Isle Downs, casino gambling, including slots, table games and live poker, as well as live thoroughbred racing plus simulcast racing, all blend nicely. The property also has four restaurants, including the award-winning LBV Steak and Pasta and the newest restaurant, The Brew Brothers, which features no fewer than 30 beers on tap. The restaurant offers a spectacular view of the racetrack, and there is live entertainment available. The casino has the latest technology for the ultimate gaming experience. All together, more than 1,600 of the most popular games are available at Presque Isle Downs and Casino. One of the more popular sites is the seventable poker room with tableside dining. The track and casino welcomes all groups, small and large. The property is a terrific way to entertain corporate groups, family members, friends and co-workers. Motorcoach groups, reunions of all types, company outings, parties, fundraisers and various celebrations are staged at the Downs. Groups are entitled to free parking and admission, state-of-the-art audiovisual support and a wide selection of dining options. Staff can work with any group’s needs. When they arrive on the scene, group members can immediately sign up for membership in the exclusive One Club. They can then use their One Club card during game play, which earns them rewards, upgrades on admission to various tiers in the clubhouse and other special bonus offers. “We’re a total entertainment destination, whether you want to stay overnight or just come for a few hours,” said Jennifer See, director of marketing. “We have all denominations and styles of games and entertainment and dining options.” W W W. PR ESQU EISL EDOW NS .COM
W W W. R E M I NGT ON PA R K .COM
PRESQUE ISLE DOWNS HOSTS THE ANNUAL SATIN AND LACE STAKES.
OKLAHOMA CITY’S REMINGTON PARK RACING AND CASINO FEATURES LIVE THOROUGHBRED RACING THROUGHOUT THE FALL. By Dustin Orona, courtesy Remington Park Courtesy Riverwind Casino GROUPTRAVELLEADER.COM
Courtesy Presque Isle Downs
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GROUPS CAN WATCH LIVE HARNESS RACING AT SCIOTO DOWNS IN COLUMBUS.
THE CASINO AT SCIOTO DOWNS OPENED IN 2012.
— SCIOTO DOWNS — COLUMBUS, OHIO
Scioto Downs, just south of Columbus, Ohio, has operated a harness racetrack for the past 58 years with racing from mid-May to mid-September. The casino is a more recent addition, having opened in 2012. “We are not called a casino,” said Ashley Redman, the advertising and public relations rep for Scioto Downs. “Legally, we are not able to call ourselves a casino or slots. We are considered a racino. We have 2,200 video lottery terminals, which play pretty much like slot machines.” Groups of all types flock to the track and casino. Tuesdays are busy motorcoach days because of the matinee racing schedule. A typical tour group will depart the bus and be greeted by a sales manager. Group members can then sign up for the One Club card, which holds perks for casino play and dining. “Then they can go play a little and grab a snack on us with their free play and dining credit,” said Redman. “Not many facilities do that. Groups are generally enjoying the track and casino for three or four hours at a time.” If an overnight stay is desired, a new Hampton Inn and Suites is available to individuals, couples, families and various groups. Entertainment designed for groups is constant at Scioto Downs. There are special events all the time and live music on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. There’s even a live karaoke band one night a week to back up the singers. There’s a Girls Night Out once a month, and fall Saturdays and Sundays are devoted to food, drinks, and college and pro football games on big-screen TVs. W W W.SCIOT ODOW NS .COM
TWICE THE FUN THE PERFECT GETAWAY FOR YOUR GROUP Enjoy over 1,000 slots, 70 table games, and a 300-room hotel tower at the gambler’s paradise of Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel in Murphy, NC. And from over 3,600 games and 1,108 hotel rooms to dining and shopping, Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort offers it all in Cherokee, NC. Choose your perfect getaway. For more information on incentives for you and your group or to book your group, call toll free 1-877-778-8138 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
SCIOTO DOWNS FEATURES 2,200 VIDEO LOTTERY TERMINALS. Photos courtesy El Dorado Scioto Downs CHEROKEE, NC
Must be 21 or older to enter casino floor and to gamble, and must present a valid state or federal photo ID upon request. Know When To Stop Before You Start.® Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-522-4700. An Enterprise of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. ©2017, Caesars License Company, LLC.
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Your next event, elevated. Coming early 2018: Flexible event space that morphs to your vision, within a brand new, world-class hotel. Just steps from 24/7 entertainment, Maryland’s best casino, an inspiring array of restaurants, a luxurious spa and the largest shopping mall in the state. All sharing the same address in the heart of the Baltimore/D.C. corridor.
See what’s coming. MARYLANDLIVECASINO.COM/EVENTS At Arundel Mills. Must be 21. Please play responsibly, for help visit mdgamblinghelp.org or call 1-800-GAMBLER. © 2017
DOVER DOWNS HAS 2,300 SLOT MACHINES.
Courtesy Dover Downs
DOVER DOWNS — DOVER, DELAWARE
Dover Downs consists of a racetrack, a casino and a hotel. The harness track is also surrounded by the Dover International Speedway, on which two major NASCAR motor racing events are run each year. Dover Downs presents live harness racing from November through mid-April with some of the finest horses in the region circling the track. In addition, there is also betting on simulcast harness and thoroughbred racing from around the country 363 days a year. Many groups love to dine and watch the action on the track from the Winner’s Circle restaurant, which provides a great view of the finish line below. The casino and hotel are another group option. “We operate a four-diamond hotel with 500 guest rooms and a 2,300-slot-machine casino with 41 gaming tables and an 18-table poker room and a variety of restaurants, as well as live entertainment on weekends,” said Ann Stack, whose company represents the casino and hotel portion of the complex. “If you’re looking for a nice resort destination on the East Coast, we’re one of the best.” Stack said the complex draws groups of every type, many of them associated with conventions. There are no motorcoach groups arriving at her complex during the day, but occasionally groups will be brought in for overnight stays. The live entertainment is among the best in the region, with acts like Chicago, LeAnn Rimes, Babyface, Travis Tritt and many more. W W W.DOV ER DOW NS .COM
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SEE WHERE GREAT TOURS BECOME GRAND TOURs Downtown takes center stage with events and entertainment at beautiful Bicentennial Park.
Grand tours are made in Cbus. Enjoy captivating performances and backstage experiences from BalletMet. Interpret world-renowned works of art at the Columbus Museum of Art. And anticipate the grand opening of the new National Veteranâ€™s Memorial & Museum in July of 2018. Plan the perfect itinerary in Columbus, with something for everyone in your group.
Discover folklore, folk music,
AND FLAT-OUT FRIENDLY FOLKS. Explore one-of-a-kind artifacts at the world-class Will Rogers Memorial Museum. Marvel at fascinating, hand-written lyrics at the Woody Guthrie Center. Dine and shop at the world-famous Pioneer Woman Mercantile. Then rock out to Americaâ€™s favorite country acts at Blake Sheltonâ€™s Ole Red Tishomingo.
Visit Oklahoma, where the legends are just a little more legendary.
Find adventures and itineraries at TravelOK.com/Group.
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WELCOME TO TAP A LETTER FROM EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR STEFANIE GORDER
STRONG AND GROWING TAP CONTINUES TO GROW ITS NETWORK AND OFFERINGS.
A SPECTAPULAR DUO TAP HAS TWO SPECIAL EVENTS ON THE DOCKET FOR 2018.
BENEFITS OF TAP GROUP LEADERS HAVE A LOT OF REASONS TO WORK WITH TAP TOUR OPERATORS.
UNIQUE EXPERIENCES TAP TOURS GO BEYOND TRADITIONAL SIGHTSEEING.
INTERNATIONAL ENCOUNTERS VISIT THESE FASCINATING COUNTRIES ON TAP TOURS.
FAMOUS FACES FOLLOW THE FOOTSTEPS OF GREAT AMERICANS ON THESE TAP TRIPS.
ARTS AND MUSIC TAP TRAVEL EXPERIENCES HIGHLIGHT THE BEST OF AMERICAN CULTURE.
ON THE TAP COVER: Groups can see the famous Neuschwanstein Castle on TAP tours in Bavaria, Germany.
2018 TAP TRAVEL GUIDE
Mount Rushmore National Memorial
Bring your groups and discover endless adventures, rivers, lakes and national parks, monuments and memorials. Find free-roaming wildlife, Old West history, Native American heritage and your great place in South Dakota.
800-952-3625 â€˘ TourSDakota.com â€˘
Badlands National Park
AKTÁ LAKOTA MUSEUM & CULTURAL CENTER — CHAMBERLAIN 800-798-3452 • AKTALAKOTA.ORG The Aktá Lakota Museum & Cultural Center in Chamberlain preserves and promotes the arts and history of the Sioux Indian culture. View beautiful exhibits of contemporary art and historical artifacts. Open year-round. Free admission.
THE MAMMOTH SITE 605-745-6017 • MAMMOTHSITE.ORG Experience an active indoor paleontological dig site and museum. The Mammoth Site is the only Accredited Museum in the Black Hills. Hands-on activities available for children. Open year-round.
SIOUX FALLS THE HEART OF AMERICA 605-275-6060 • VISITSIOUXFALLS.COM/TOURS-ARE-HERE South Dakota’s largest city is conveniently located at I-29 and I-90. Explore Falls Park, a 123-acre park with a triple waterfall ﬂowing over beautiful pink quartzite. Contact us for customized itineraries.
800-952-3625 • TourSDakota.com
BEST WESTERN RAMKOTA HOTELS OF SOUTH DAKOTA
CRAZY HORSE MEMORIAL
CUSTER STATE PARK RESORT
605-673-4681 • CRAZYHORSEMEMORIAL.ORG
888-875-0001 • CUSTERRESORTS.COM
Family-friendly, full-service hotels featuring indoor waterparks (free for guests), pools, restaurants and bars, ﬁtness centers, and free WiFi. Located in Aberdeen, Rapid City, and Sioux Falls.
Celebrate Native American history and culture at Crazy Horse Memorial. World’s largest Mountain Carving-in-progress and much more! 17 miles from Mount Rushmore. Open year-round.
1,300 free-roaming bison! Accommodations, bus parking and dining at our State Game Lodge. Experience a Buffalo Safari, Chuck Wagon Cookout, or Trail Ride. Located in the Black Hills.
MITCHELL FIND YOUR PALACE!
PIERRE — YOUR ADVENTURE ON THE RIVER
RAPID CITY — DO BIG THINGS!
866-273-CORN (2676) • VISITMITCHELL.COM
605-224-7361 • PIERRE.ORG
Exp-EAR-ience Mitchell’s history, starting with the Corn Palace! Museums, 50+ restaurants, and complimentary group services. Four hours east of the Black Hills; I-90, Exit 332.
Tours of the Capitol building, memorials, Governor’s mansion, Trail of Governors and the Oahe Dam are available. The Pierre area offers a plethora of outdoor recreation and museums to visit.
Enjoy shopping, dining, events and local favorites like Main Street Square, City of Presidents and more. Nearby, explore Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Crazy Horse Memorial and other Black Hills treasures.
THE SOUTH DAKOTA SCULPTURE TRAIL
WALL DRUG WORLD’S LARGEST DRUG STORE
800-528-1234 • REGENCY-MGMT.COM
800-893-7148 • SOUTHDAKOTASCULPTURETRAIL.COM Explore free public sculpture exhibits on South Dakota’s Main Streets. Discover unique arts, cuisine and culture of South Dakota along with the iconic Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse Memorials.
605-279-2175 • WALLDRUG.COM Wall Drug has been entertaining and educating the traveling public since 1931. This wonderland of free attractions includes a restaurant that seats 520. There’s something for everyone. Located in Wall.
800-487-3223 • TOURRAPIDCITY.COM
WATERTOWN 800-658-4505 • VISITWATERTOWN.COM Groups love Watertown. Art galleries, historical landmarks, a trail of sculptures through our vibrant downtown, diverse culinary scene, craft brews, and genuine hospitality. Watertown will awaken your spirit, curiosity and sense of adventure.
SOUTH DAKOTA DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM
Falls Park, Sioux Falls
HELLO TRAVEL FAMILY,
More operators equals more product. More product equals more opportuni-
ties for our travel partners to offer fresh tours and destinations to their clients.
TAP firmly believes that it takes all of us — operators, suppliers and sellers of travel — to work together to make this global travel world go ’round. We are proud to be the first company that offered one brochure that featured guaran-
teed departures. Our tour expansion online also features scheduled departures,
custom tour ideas and two exciting SpecTAPular Tours and Events that feature
unique concepts; just search “SpecTAPular” on our website. Along with our elite Guild Members, who offer destinations and services that are consistent
his past year, Travel Alliance
with our goal of expanded partnership, we are ready for 2018 and beyond.
We are committed to contributing valuable education to the travel industry,
Partners (TAP) has been
and we do that in three ways. TAP Into Travel webinars, Tuesdays at 2 p.m.
tiatives that bring revenues
on industry trends. Bus regulations, how to incorporate print marketing and
focused on marketing inito all, as well as celebrating
its 15th official year as a corporation. Using our Power
of Partnership is enabling TAP to gain solid ground in the tour and travel industry. It seems like everyone is talking about TAP.
This year, we welcomed new tour operators into
Eastern Time, feature not just destinations, but also important information negotiating better contracts are just a few subjects that have been reported as
tremendously helpful for the tour business. Also rated highly is our Buyers Educational Tour (BET on TAP), designed for potential new TAP partners and for new travel sellers of TAP tours. This runs in conjunction with our annual
conference, TAP Dance, set for June 4-8, 2018, in Atlantic City, New Jersey. For travel professionals that have an active website, the customized Tour
our family. Three came on in January, with our fourth
Wrap allows active sellers to receive higher commissions and never lose their
the tour offerings available at www.tapintotravel.com.
others in the worldwide travel industry to grow revenues for all.
joining in June and our fifth in October, enhancing The goal is to include quality and like-minded North
clients. We are proud to work in partnership with buyers, sellers, suppliers and
This phenomenon called TAP continues to gain momentum. For informa-
American tour operators that meet the mission of buying
tion on our corporation or programs for sellers of travel, tour operators and
tour offerings different. We encourage you to look at
partners can also help you understand the advantages of being involved with our
and selling unique products in order to make our TAP
the TAP partner profiles featured in this special edition
to find new ideas to help you build your tour portfolio. To make it easy, phone numbers are provided, as we
suppliers, please do not hesitate to reach out and contact me. Our operator network. Strong partnerships translate into more money. So let’s be partners. I look forward to helping you get hooked on TAP.
are all too busy to not know the people who can make things happen quickly.
Do you know that all TAP operators must abide by
a set of standards in order to be in the TAP family of brands and have intense annual reviews to ensure they
meet them? This is why a TAP operator should be at
the top of all travel sellers’ contact lists when they are considering new tours to offer their clients. And if you are a supplier, it’s good to know that we have systems in place to stand behind our word.
STEFANIE GORDER, CTP, DS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR TRAVEL ALLIANCE PARTNERS, LLC 866-373-0790 | WWW.TAPINTOTRAVEL.COM | MARKETING@TRAVELALLIANCEPARTNERS.COM
INNOVATE BY B R I A N J E W E LL
TA P DR AWS ON ITS COLLECTI V E STR ENGTHS
ravel Alliance Partners, commonly known as TAP, was an innovation when it began 16 years ago. And innovation continues to be a driving motivation for the organization’s tourism professionals. In 2001, a small group of tour operators banded together around a novel idea: They each operated in a different part of the country, which meant that they had different expertise and different audiences. So they decided to form a network that would allow them to leverage that diversity to create growth opportunities for everyone, and TAP was born. Each tour operator member opens its products for sale to all the other members. That allows each tour operator to offer its customers more tours than just the ones it creates. And it gives
each company an opportunity to attract customers from its partners’ audiences, thus expanding the size of the market for everyone. “We have 30 unique companies in the TAP network,” said Stefanie Gorder, TAP’s executive director. “They are regional experts, offering differentiated products and clients. Some are focused on students. Some are pushing millennial product. Some are pushing senior product. Some are better at special events.” TAP’s reach is larger than just its 30 partner companies, though. The organization works closely with many representatives of destinations, attractions and other travel industry companies to help inspire new ideas and create new tour itineraries for customers. Those industry representatives, called Preferred Professional Travel Providers (PPTPs), gather with the tour operators every summer for a four-day conference called TAP Dance. TAP also has outreach initiatives aimed at helping group leaders make the most of its offerings. “When you look at TAP, this concept of working cleverly together to better everyone’s business is remarkable,” Gorder said. “It continues to
2018 TAP TRAVEL GUIDE
Each weekly webinar is recorded and stored on TAP’s website, which means that travel planners can listen live or after the fact and can browse the archive of content for topics that interest them.
NEW TOUR IDEAS
TAP’S PARTNERSHIP OFFERS TRAVEL PLANNERS ACCESS TO HUNDREDS OF DESTINATIONS, INCLUDING HOLLAND. Courtesy Image Tours
grow because it’s not one-sided. It takes our operators, our suppliers and our buyers of TAP tours. We’re all working together for the larger goal.”
FOCUSING ON INNOVATION
TAP’s concept has proven successful: The network added five new tour operator members in 2017 and has many PPTPs from around the country participating in its programs. Now, the organization is focusing on refining and innovating its model to achieve new successes in the future. “If we do the same old thing, we will have the same old result,” Gorder said. “The TAP of the future is getting new results. That means revitalizing every program.” A key element of this initiative is a focus on new technology platforms. TAP has long marketed tours with a website, as well as the TAP Tour Wrap, which allows other travel organizations to market TAP trips directly on their own websites. Now, Gorder said, TAP partners are enhancing those platforms with travel videos and outreach on social media networks such as Facebook Live. The group is also expanding the scope of its successful TAP Into Travel webinars, which take place every Tuesday at 2 p.m. Eastern Time. Each webinar features a presentation by a different TAP member tour operator. For several years, those presentations have focused on specific tours those members offered, but now some feature educational elements as well. “The focus of the webinars is not just on product anymore,” Gorder said. “It’s on how to help someone’s company grow, whether through enhanced print buys or targeted email marketing. Trends and changes in the industry are a big deal right now, and TAP continues to be the leader in providing educational opportunities to enhance the end user’s business.”
One of TAP’s most significant early innovations was its Guaranteed Departures program. The first of its kind in the travel industry, this program consists of dozens of tours that TAP guarantees will operate on their scheduled dates, regardless of how many customers sign up. In addition to its Guaranteed Departures, TAP offers many more Scheduled Departures, which are tours they expect to perform well, and Custom Tours, which are exciting travel products available to group leaders on request. Those two types of trips are creating opportunities for TAP members to offer new tour experiences. “We have some really cool cruise programs,” Gorder said. “Traditionally, we haven’t focused on those, but we have some great ones now, like a new PBS Garden Smart cruise program. There are new group products, like Hippies to Honeymoons, in upstate New York. And we’re selling the 2020 Oberammergau Passion play — you don’t want to wait to book that. We have huge numbers already, and there are lots of Custom Tours available around the Passion play.”
FUN AND PRODUCTIVITY
Many of these new travel ideas are the result of meetings between TAP Operators and PPTPs at TAP Dance. Tour operators have four solid days of appointments with destination representatives and use that time to find new travel ideas. “We have a partner whose entire 44-page catalog is all fresh product developed at TAP Dance 2017,” Gorder said. “Another partner has done 11 custom products from TAP Dance.” The schedule of appointments is demanding, but Gorder said, in the spirit of innovation, the organization is finding new ways to incorporate fun and community into these meetings. “Sometimes we do better business at social events,” she said, “so we’re restructuring our social events. Put on a bathing suit instead of a business suit, and the conversations take a whole new turn.” There will be plenty of opportunities for fun at the next TAP Dance, to be held June 4-8 at a beachfront hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The 2019 edition of the conference is headed to the Little America Hotel and Resort in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
41 Courtesy Visit Salt Lake
TWO BY B R I A N J E W E LL
N EW ENGL A N D A N D L A K E POW ELL STA R IN 2018 EV EN TS
dynamic duo of special events in 2018 will showcase Travel Alliance Partners’ (TAP’s) product diversity and growing expertise in creating one-of-a-kind specialty experiences. Known as SpecTAPular Tours and Events, these occasions were introduced by TAP in 2012 and have become an important part of the organization’s distinctive offerings. “SpecTAPular is something totally unique,” said Nick Calderazzo, president of TAP partner Twin Travel Concepts and the organization’s SpecTAPular committee chair. “You’re not going to find it anywhere else in the marketplace. It has elements of exclusivity — an exclusive concert,
an exclusive event, something that makes it stand apart.” Each SpecTAPular event is created by one of the TAP member tour operators, and the rest of the members sell it to their customers. Previous editions have included USO-style shows in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and “The Great Gatsby”-themed weekends at the Grand Hotel in Mackinac Island, Michigan. In 2018, TAP will offer two very different experiences. The first will take place in New England, September 18-21, and is centered on the Big E, a state-fair-style festival. The second will be a houseboat excursion on Arizona’s Lake Powell, October 13-21.
THE BIG E
Officially known as the Eastern States Exhibition, the Big E in Springfield, Massachusetts, is one of the largest annual events in the Northeast, serving as a state fair for all the New England states combined. “It’s all six New England States coming together at one time,” Calderazzo said. “It’s a huge fair, carnival and circus, with the most incredible food.” TAP member Richard Durgan of Durgan Travel will be coordinating this SpecTAPular and is arranging for participating groups to have
2018 TAP TRAVEL GUIDE
where they tie up at night. Guests will be able to enjoy the landscape of Lake Powell, which is surrounded by towering, colorful sandstone cliffs, and participate in active exploration if they wish. “Each houseboat will be carrying kayaks and will have a powerboat,” Murray said. “So people can go waterskiing, wakeboarding or tubing. They can go fishing off the houseboat or take the powerboat out to fish. We’ll also go hiking up some of the slot canyons to scenic areas in and around the lake.” In addition to the active options, participants will be treated to astronomer programs that highlight the area’s clear night skies. For more information on either event, visit www.tapintotravel.com. 2018 SPECTAPULAR EXPERIENCES WILL TAKE PLACE AT LAKE POWELL, ARIZONA (LEFT), AND THE BIG E IN MASSACHUSETTS (RIGHT). Courtesy Eastern States Exposition
a full day of fun at the Big E, as well as excursions to some of the other popular attractions in the area. The itinerary will include a day in the Berkshires with a visit to the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and an evening event at the Yankee Candle headquarters in nearby South Deerfield. The trip will also include a visit to Hancock Shaker Village in Hancock, Massachusetts. “It’s the best Shaker representation in the country,” Calderazzo said. “It’s a working Shaker village. When we go there, we’ll do a lot of hands-on stuff.” The event has been timed to coincide with New England’s popular foliage season, and several TAP members are offering longer fall foliage tours that will include the SpecTAPular portion in Massachusetts along with other destinations and activities.
About a month after the Big E, a different SpecTAPular will unfold out west, where up to 110 guests will enjoy a nine-day, eight-night tour from Phoenix to Salt Lake City that will include a five-day houseboat excursion on Arizona’s Lake Powell. “We’re going to be on 75-foot, luxurious houseboats,” said Jason Murray of Southwest Adventure Tours, the TAP operator coordinating this tour. “They each have five or six staterooms with queen beds and satellite TV. They have a hot tub on deck and a full kitchen. It’s basically a floating home that takes them around with all the amenities of a house itself. They have couches and chairs that you can lounge on throughout the day and waterslides you can fly off into the water.” The houseboat will be piloted by professional crew, and the all-inclusive tour will feature meals served either on board the boats or on the docks
CHRISTIAN VAN METER WINS SPIRIT OF TAP AWARD Travel Alliance Partners (TAP) presented its 2017 Spirit of TAP Award to Christian Van Meter, manager of group sales, Americas, at Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. Van Meter was nominated by TAP members for his outstanding role in the tourism industry and particularly for his work in helping to bring the 2017 TAP Dance conference to Tucson, Arizona. “Christian is a deeply caring individual who goes the extra distance for everyone he interacts with: customers, colleagues and hotel teams,” said Tracy Gruber, TAP’s meeting and event coordinator and daughter of late TAP member Ann Thomas, in whose memory the award was established. “He has an amazing travel and destination knowledge, and educating himself on global destinations is his personal passion. He is always surprising me by how he quietly and unassumingly pursued availability and rates for a client when others would have moved on.” The Spirit of TAP Award was established in 2012 after the passing of Ann Thomas, owner of TAP tour operator Western Discovery. The award annually recognizes a Preferred Professional Travel Provider who truly encompasses the TAP vision and embodies the true spirit of TAP. Rather than waiting for others to ask for help, the awardee asks, “What can I do for you?” and “How can I help?” The award was presented at a luncheon during TAP Dance, the organization’s annual meeting.
43 Courtesy Visit Salt Lake
VALUE BY R AC H E L C A R T E R
THER E A R E R E A L R E A SONS TO USE TA P OPER ATOR S
ravel Alliance Partners (TAP) gives group leaders the power of partnership. TAP members offer a variety of programs and products to help group leaders reach new customers and grow their business. TAP has preferred vendor agreements in place with three cruise companies and runs a weekly webinar series thatâ€™s free and open to anyone. One TAP partner offers an advertising-share program, and others provide special incentives and niche itineraries that help entice new travelers.
2018 TAP TRAVEL GUIDE
Image Tours partners with travel agents to split the costs of advertising their tours. The company creates a newspaper ad for each agency, builds in the tour and airfare price from each agency’s city and then splits the cost with that agency to run the ad in the local newspaper. “We have a program that’s proven to bring new customers to your business; and by the way, we’ll pay for half of it,” said Justin Osbon, sales director for Image Tours. Image Tours first started the advertising program in the early ’90s and has been running it ever since; it is now in about 193 papers across the country. In addition to designing and customizing the ad, the company also helps throughout the sale, including providing a template cover letter for the first mailing to make it more personal and follow-up to give clients a personal touch in getting the tours they want. “We’re helping [agents] build their business by setting them up as their local European tour expert,” Osbon said. When people say newspapers are a dead medium, Osbon has hard numbers that say otherwise. Many group tour customers still read newspapers and trust using them more than using an online agency. They’re looking for help with their first trip abroad and like that there’s a local office staffed by local people. “It brings new clients into their business, who buy this one tour then turn around and buy three or four or five more tours,” Osbon said. “They’re going to buy more because you helped them with that first big international vacation.”
IMAGE TOURS HELPS GROUP LEADERS WITH LOCAL ADVERTISING FOR ITS TRIPS TO DESTINATIONS SUCH AS ESTONIA.
TAP has preferred vendor agreements with three cruise companies that allow TAP partners and people who work with TAP partners to get better deals and bigger discounts on Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line and AMA Waterways. “If you go through a TAP partner, if you’re going to deal with one of these three companies, you’ll get a lot better rate or a better value, and you might get cruise credits, dinners or a combination of value-adds,” said Steve Everidge, secretary and treasurer of Shenandoah Tours and cruise chairman for TAP. “It brings better value for the end user.” Shenandoah has an in-office travel service, and when someone calls up wanting to go on a particular river cruise line, the TAP agreement allows Shenandoah to offer AMA Waterways cruises as a comparable option. Sports Tour and Travel recently created a specialty itinerary with Norwegian to have a baseball umpire on board to tie into the company’s Bahamas Spring Training Cruise. “It’s unique to both companies, unique to [Sports Tour and Travel] and unique to Norwegian,” Everidge said. “They’re going to have an expert on board; it’s something they normally wouldn’t have, so it gives them a different market.” Shenandoah Tours often uses Holland America in Alaska and the Panama Canal. Everidge particularly likes Holland America’s product in Alaska because the company owns the cruise ships, the hotels, the buses
Courtesy Image Tours
SHENADOAH TOURS AND TAP PARTNER WITH AMA WATERWAYS FOR RIVER CRUISES IN EUROPE.
and even some passenger cars on the McKinley Explorer dome train. In addition to providing consistent quality throughout the trip, it also gives TAP members and groups working with TAP access to those preferred vendor agreements from start to finish. “It’s somewhat of a package there,” he said.
Courtesy Shenandoah Tours
Every Tuesday, anyone can tune into the “TAP Into Tuesday” webinar. Although most webinars are focused on travel — destinations, attractions and experiences — Tri-State Travel has homed in on another aspect of the travel business: motorcoaches. Tri-State Travel is a full-service tour operator and one of only three TAP members that is also a charter motorcoach operator. Most group travel leaders rely on motorcoaches, but many have no idea of what to look for when it comes to booking them. “No matter if you’re a tour operator in California or a group flying into Chicago, you have to get around somehow,” said Andy Hillard with Tri-State Travel, and “not all motorcoach companies are created equal.” Tri-State Travel has twice led webinars about motorcoach education. The first was on motorcoach safety, and the second was about electronic logging devices, which the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will require all motorcoach drivers to use beginning in December. The devices, which sync up with the engine to record driving time,
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2018 TAP TRAVEL GUIDE
AN IMAGE TOURS ALPHORN DEMO IN AUSTRIA
Create unforgettable Minnesota memories. Visit the Mississippi River headwaters. Cruise Courtesy Image Tours
A STAT BASEBALL ROAD TRIP SPORTS TRAVEL AND TOURS FANS AT A GAME Courtesy Sports Travel and Tours
on Lake Superior.Travel the Great River Road or 20 other scenic byways. Experience worldclass dining and theater, concerts, museums, shopping and hands-on attractions.
Courtesy Sports Travel and Tours
“NOT ALL MOTORCOACH COMPANIES ARE CREATED EQUAL” — ANDY HILLARD are intended to improve safety and make it easier to track data about drivers’ shifts. The change will affect the group market, Hillard said, because group leaders will need to start thinking about tightening up itineraries or adding more time, an extra night or a relief driver to avoid going over the daily limits on driving time. For motorcoach safety, the webinar went over questions to ask, such as the carrier’s Department of Transportation (DOT) rating, if it has a full-time safety director and what its maintenance practices include. Group leaders should also ask about the average age of the operator’s fleet and the coaches’ amenities. For comparison, the average age of Tri-State’s 25 coaches is 2.5 years. Group leaders should also ask for a carrier’s DOT number to look up its records online. TAP Into Tuesday webinars are free and open to everyone; they take place every Tuesday at 2 p.m. Eastern time. The webinars are available at www.tapintotravel.com/webinars.
BASEBALL PASSPORT PROGRAM
Travelers are always looking for some sort of incentive, and STAT Baseball Road Trips is essentially “a frequent travel program,” said Michael Coldesina, manager with Sports Travel and Tours. The company started the baseball passport program about 17 years ago. The agency gives travelers a Passport to Baseball, P L A N YOU R M I N N E S O TA T O U R AT E X P LOR E M I N N E S O TA .C OM
C A L L 1–8 8 8 –8 4 7 – 4 8 6 6 F O R M O R E I N FOR M AT I ON
and every time they visit a stadium on an itinerary, they get a stamp in their passport. When they’ve visited all 30 Major League Baseball stadiums, Sports Travel and Tours invites them on a weekend trip to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York. As the Hall of Fame’s official licensed travel partner, Sports Travel and Tours holds an induction ceremony there for travelers who have acquired all 30 stadium stamps and even pays for their overnight hotel accommodations. “I think it gives group leaders a product that I don’t think they’ve traditionally looked at,” he said. “People are trying to do these trips on their own and visit the stadiums on their own because they don’t realize there’s an outlet for them to go and take all the hassle out of the process.” Sports Travel and Tours has been running baseball trips pretty much from when it opened in 1996; the company soon realized that “a lot of impetus of these trips wasn’t the game itself but to visit the stadium,” Coldesina said. The company tries to include all 30 MLB stadiums on at least one tour each year. Some itineraries include three or four stadiums, especially on the East Coast, such as Fenway Park in Boston and the Yankees’ and Mets’ stadiums in New York. Although the program centers on stadiums, itineraries include plenty of other attractions, destination and historic sites.
Main Street Experiences started its Women in Need of Spoiling (WINOS) program to take girlfriend getaways beyond wine tastings and day spas to fully escorted trips tailored for a female audience. “The tours are for women, by women,” said Jennifer Lum Lee, director of marketing for Main Street Experiences, formerly Main Street Tours. The five-woman company has mostly worked with seniors, so WINOS “opens up a whole new world for us,” she said. “This is going to be a lot of fun because it’s what we would want to do.” Main Street started the program about a year ago as a partnership with Elaine Moulder, owner of Brilliant Edventures, based in Georgia. Most girlfriend getaways don’t include transportation and meals, and the partners wanted to offer the full group experience to small groups of women. Although the smaller groups won’t get the same deep discounts as large groups, Main Street and Brilliant Edventures have the connections to get some discounted rates and special perks. The two companies have plans to launch WINOS as a retail product but have also been doing custom group itineraries. WINOS in Waco includes a tour of sites from HGTV’s smash hit “Fixer Upper” and a stop at Magnolia Market, owned by the show’s hosts, Chip and Joanna Gaines. The trip is built around the Rootstock Wine Festival and includes dinner on the historic Waco Suspension Bridge. A new itinerary, WINOS and the City, will launch in May 2018 and plays on HBO’s popular show “Sex and the City.” Travelers will take a walking tour, visit filming locations from the show and be pampered by a beautician before a night out on the town to see a Broadway show. WINOS will be launching four to six new itineraries next year, with destinations such as Maui, Hawaii; Wyoming; and San Francisco.
A WINOS GROUP AT MAGNOLIA MARKET Courtesy Main Street Tours
2018 TAP TRAVEL GUIDE
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FRIENDS JEALOUS BY R AC H E L C A R T E R
BOOK ONE OF THESE TAP-ONLY ITINERARIES
he whole point of traveling is to see something new and experience something different. But too often, individual travelers and group leaders get stuck in a rut of letting the sights and sounds pass them by, whether through a motorcoach window or on a walking tour. Many of the tour operators of Travel Alliance Partners (TAP) have tapped their creativity to find unique experiences for travelers in the destinations they visit. These TAP itineraries go beyond the norm to give people a chance to drive a steam locomotive, travel with a TV show host, cross an international border, see a national park in a new way and, maybe, just maybe, speak to the spirits.
2018 TAP TRAVEL GUIDE
DRIVE THE RAILS
In a recent episode of CBS’ smash hit “The Big Bang Theory,” Leonard buys Sheldon a certificate for the ultimate train experience at the Nevada Northern Railway Museum in Ely, Nevada. The closing scene shows Sheldon operating a coal-fired locomotive, shirtless in bib overalls, his face smeared with grease and a grin. Ever since the episode aired in February, the museum’s Be an Engineer program has “been selling out all the time,” but Leisure West Tours still has priority, said owner Lee Dahl. Travelers on Leisure West’s Railroad Engineer: Ultimate Experience itinerary “have to have a shirt on, but they get great big smiles on their face,” he said, jokingly. People often don’t realize they’ll be at the throttle, blowing the whistle and signaling at crossings, because “they just think it’s not something they could ever do,” he said. And it’s not just five minutes in the seat. The in-depth program gives each participant nearly an hour at the throttle of two locomotives. Guests start on the diesel engine, which is more straightforward and less overwhelming than the century-old, coal-fired steam locomotive, Dahl said. Over the course of two days, each person gets to drive each locomotive and may also operate a two-person speeder car and the “hand-pump cars you used to see in the old cartoons,” Dahl said. The Nevada Northern Railway, including the engines, buildings and rolling stock, is a National Historic Landmark. The railroad was built in 1905 to reach the copper mines about 140 miles north of Ely; but when the mines shut down in 1978, so did the railroad. “They thought they’d be back to work as soon as the mine opened back up, and it never did,” he said, so everything is much as they left it: tools, equipment, paperwork — including workers’ time cards.
YELLOWSTONE IN WINTER
TRAVELERS CRUISE ON THE SEA OF CORTEZ ON TRIPS TO MEXICO WITH GRAY LINE TOURS.
Yellowstone National Park is a different place in winter. Snow blankets the ground, muffling ambient noise. Wildlife stands out, stark against the white carpet. Steam from geysers and thermal pools turns into billowing columns in the freezing air. “It’s just really quiet,” said Shawn Horman, vice president of Western Leisure. “It gives you a different experience in the park.” Yellowstone’s winter season — when there’s enough snow cover for over-snow travel on the roads — usually runs from mid-December through mid-March, and Western Leisure typically runs its trips to the park in January and February. For travel, the company uses a combination of modern snow coaches — vans or minibuses that have been converted to tracks for winter driving — and historic snow coaches, which are basically World War II-era snow machines. Each can hold eight to 12 people. The snow coaches are “totally part of the experience,” Horman said. Local guides drive and narrate, showing passengers where wolves are feeding on a carcass or where bison “like to lay on the warm ground,” he said. Groups also ride a horse-drawn sleigh into the massive herd on the National Elk Refuge near Jackson, Wyoming. “You’re out on the elk refuge with magnificent views of the Grand Tetons, and there’s, on average, 4,000 elk on the refuge,” Horman said. “They’re used to the sleighs — they don’t run away. All the bulls are fight-
Courtesy Gray Line Tours
ing and wrestling all day long — it is a fabulous experience.” In addition to standbys like Old Faithful, the itinerary can also include attending the weekly broadcast performance of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in Salt Lake City and a tour of Utah Olympic Park near Park City.
RIVER CRUISING WITH A TV HOST
Alki Tours’ Holland and Belgium River Cruise with Amadeus River Cruises puts passengers on board a river cruise with a national television host: Eric Johnson of PBS’ “GardenSmart.” “The whole idea is it’s an interactive opportunity for people to learn and live their passion on their holiday and bringing them that much closer, in this case, with public television,” said Tyson Verse, travel manager with Alki Tours. Johnson and his crew will be filming on the trip as well as hosting seminars and participating in cruise events. The trip begins in Amsterdam with a visit to the Rijksmuseum, where guests can see works by Rembrandt and Vermeer up close, followed by a stop at the Van Gogh Museum. In Amsterdam, travelers can also visit the Hortus Botanicus, which was founded in 1638, making it one of the world’s oldest botanical gardens. During a tour of Aalsmeer Flower Auction, Europe’s largest building, filled with acres of flowers, groups will learn about how the auction sells some 20 million flowers daily from around the world.
LEISURE WEST TOURS’ RAILROAD ENGINEER EXPERIENCE
Courtesy Leisure West
ESSE PURSE MUSEUM, LITTLE ROCK
crystal bridges museum of american art, bentonville
THE OHIO CLUB, HOT SPRINGS
plans Naturally Made
Groups of all sizes love The Natural State because of our seemingly endless variety of things to see, do and experience, like world-class museums, national historic sites and more. Plan your trip at arkansas.com or call (501) 682-1219. What will you make in Arkansas?
2018 TAP TRAVEL GUIDE
Keukenhof is an 80-acre garden with more than 7 million tulips, daffodils and hyacinths. The garden is “the best of everything on show,” Verse said, and the bulbs are planted at different depths, a technique called lasagna or layer planting, so there’s always something blooming. But the cruise isn’t only for gardeners; it includes stops in Antwerp, Bruges and Ghent and excursions to castles, windmills and World War I museums and memorials. Kinderdijk is a village known for its elaborate network of historic 18th-century windmills, pumps, dikes and reservoirs that control flooding in the lowland. “We try to keep the entire audience interested,” Verse said.
GRAND TETON IN WINTER
GHOST TOURS AND TOWNS IN NEVADA
Mark Hoffmann, president and founder of Sports Leisure Vacations, is a skeptic when it comes to the supernatural. But the more experiences he has during ghost hunts in the ghost town of Goodsprings, Nevada, the more he can’t explain — including a recent encounter that hit close to home.
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Sports Leisure Vacation’s six-day Death Valley and Nevada Ghost Towns itinerary departs from Sacramento, California, and travels to Las Vegas. From there, guests will visit several Old West ghost towns where they’ll find old miners’ cabins, abandoned post offices and deserted train stations. In Goodsprings, the group goes on a ghost hunt, a tour that for years was led by Robert George Allen, a retired entertainer who started the Haunted Vegas tour and who recently passed away. Each person has a “ghost box” to ask spirits yes or no questions. During a recent trip, Hoffmann’s ghost box was lighting up, which indicates a spiritual presence. After asking several questions, Hoffmann finally asked, “Robert George Allen, is that you?” And the box “blinked like crazy,” he said. Goodsprings’ other claim to fame is the 100-year-old saloon where
Clark Gable awaited word about Carol Lombard’s plane crash. “He sat there and burned a hole in the bar with his cigar,” Hoffmann said. The remote town of Belmont doesn’t have power, but it does have people — about a dozen residents. And those residents welcome visitors to see the ruins of collapsed buildings, the remains of partially standing structures and the Belmont Courthouse, which locals are trying to restore. The company recently expanded the itinerary to add Death Valley National Park, where guests will spend two nights at the Oasis at Death Valley, formerly the Furnace Creek Resort.
CROSS THE BORDER INTO MEXICO HOLLAND’S KEUKENHOF GARDEN
Courtesy Gray Line Tours
Give Them the Experience of a Lifetime
Few motorcoach tour operators still offer itineraries that cross the southern border into Mexico, but Gray Line Tours is — proudly — one of them. TJ Morgan is president and CEO of the Tucson, Arizona-based company that his grandfather started in 1916 as Citizen Auto Stage Company. Gray Line offers a variety of itineraries, among them Best of the Barrio, which explores Tucson through its Sonoran cuisine, and the Border Crisis: Fact and Fiction tour, which was designed to allow people to go on personal fact-finding missions and see the border firsthand in a safe and secure way. But for people who want to travel into Mexico, Gray Line’s Beaches of Rocky Point, Mexico, itinerary is a “nice, safe way for people to get an exposure to Mexico tourism,” Morgan said. “Rocky Point is very safe.” For those who have never traveled to the country and feel unsure about the best way to do so, Gray Line drives its motorcoach across the border to the beachfront Peñasco Del Sol Hotel. Gray Line’s bilingual guide has built a relationship with the border agents, and the drive is about four hours total: three hours to the border, then one more hour to the hotel. The resort fronts the Gulf of California, also known as the Sea of Cortez, and when guests arrive, they enjoy a margarita reception at the hotel. While there, groups can opt to take a sunset cruise, a bird island boat tour or a whale-watching trip with EcoFun Rentals, which also rents kayaks, paddleboards and boogie boards to beachgoers. Travelers will visit Rocky Point’s Old Port, where they can buy fresh seafood from fish markets and explore curio shops filled with handmade knickknacks and souvenirs.
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WORLD AWAITS BY R AC H E L C A R T E R
TRAVEL THE GLOBE WITH TAP-MEMBER COMPANIES
o matter where in the world groups want to go, Travel Alliance Partners’ (TAP’s) tour operators can take them there. TAP’s 30 partners provide international and exotic tours that give travelers distinctive experiences — watch a play that has been produced since 1634; see the ocean tide reverse a river; walk underwater in the Great Barrier Reef; visit the ruins of a Roman Emperor’s palace; and get close to the wildest of animals on a Kenyan safari.
2018 TAP TRAVEL GUIDE
Three provinces make up the Canadian Maritimes: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Add Canada’s easternmost province — Newfoundland and Labrador — and you have Atlantic Canada. “When I hear about any of our Atlantic Maritimes trips, the first thing that comes to mind is the friendliness of our people,” said Atlantic Tours president Richard Arnold. But the region also offers nautical heritage, delicious seafood, great wines and incredible scenic beauty — “all those things lead to us being a wonderful destination,” said Arnold. In New Brunswick, the city of St. John sits on the northern side of the Bay of Fundy, which boasts what some consider the world’s highest tidal range. The ocean floor is exposed during low tide and covered by 50 feet of seawater during high tide. The massive tidal shifts create another phenomenon: the Reversing Rapids. The St. John River empties into the bay, but the power of the ocean forces the river to flow backward during high tide, creating roiling rapids and whirlpools. The Bay of Fundy is also spectacular for whale-watching, with up to 12 whale species using it as their summer feeding ground. In Shediac Bay, the group will go out on a lobster boat to haul up lobster traps and eat their lobster dinner right on the boat. There are 10 National Historic Sites in Newfoundland and Labrador, including L’Anse aux Meadows, a Viking or Norse settlement dating to the year 1000, and Red Bay, the site of a 16th-century Basque whaling station on Labrador’s southern coast.
CROATIA’S ADRIATIC COAST
TRAVELERS CAN SNORKEL AT AUSTRALIA’S GREAT BARRIER REEF ON A TOUR WITH ANDERSON VACATIONS.
The Adriatic coast in Croatia has long been a favorite vacation spot for Europeans, but it’s just starting to catch on with Americans. There, U.S. travelers find a safe, picturesque place where everyone speaks English, said Sue Biggs, owner of Custom Holidays. “This is about scenery and history, and you get plenty of both,” she said. The company’s Croatia and Venice cruise begins in Dubrovnik, which sits on the southernmost tip of the Croatian coastline. Old Town’s creamy stone walls and matching buildings with red-tile roofs in Old Town are always surprising to visitors. A walking tour of the “Pearl of the Adriatic” includes stops at the Rector’s Palace and Franciscan Monastery’s Pharmacy. As visitors take a walking tour through Plitvice Lakes National Park, they explore several of the park’s 16 terraced lakes, and “you see a beautiful waterfall” around practically every corner, Biggs said. Farther north in Zadar is the city’s sea organ, which looks like a series of large steps down to the water; the steps hide tubes that allow air and water to flow into resonant chambers, essentially allowing the sea waves to play an ever-changing song. “You can sit there and listen for a long time,” she said. “It’s really, really special.” In the city of Split, groups visit the palace of the Roman emperor Diocletian. The massive historic ruins have been repurposed as an openair gathering place with courtyards, shops, buskers and street performers.
Courtesy Tourism Australia
Ireland is a longtime favorite for people’s first foray into European traveling. The Irish have “such an affinity for America” because so many Irish emigrated to the United States, and the feeling is mutual; “some cities in the United States have larger Irish populations than some cities in Ireland,” said Sandi Pufahl, president of Fancy-Free Holidays. Many of her custom groups want to visit because they have Irish roots and want to learn more about their heritage. Pufahl starts her tours in Dublin, where it’s almost a requirement to visit the Guinness Storehouse. The building’s stories and exhibits are built around an interior atrium that’s designed to mimic a pint glass. After the tour, groups go to the top level, a circular glass level — again, like the rim of a pint glass — that gives a 360-degree panoramic view of the city with information about sites and buildings etched into the windows as part of the view. At Trinity College, the group learns about the Book of Kells, which contains the first four gospels annotated by monks and was found in a bog, and visits St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The group will enjoy a medieval banquet at the 11th-century Bunratty Castle. The evening includes performances of medieval songs by a harpist and singers wearing period costume, and a banquet of squab and roasted potatoes for which “you have to use your dagger and your fingers,” she said.
take your next tour somewhere
AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND
What tour doesn’t need to stop somewhere new to ensure an experience that’s fascinating, fresh and fun? In Oklahoma City there’s something new to discover on every corner. From our gleaming new downtown to the Old West at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. From a new appreciation of our spirit at the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum to being welcomed like a new friend everywhere you go. Add us to your next itinerary and you’ll soon discover that around here, things are more than just new. They’re OKC new.
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A red carpet evening at the Sydney Opera House “is a great way to start or end your itinerary, depending which way you want to go,” said Vasil Vladinski, operations manager for Anderson Vacations, which offers a variety of itineraries in Australia and New Zealand. Groups can take a backstage tour followed by dinner and a performance. During a cruise in Sydney Harbour, the 56-passenger boat takes passengers to area beaches and a locals’ restaurant. Travelers can also climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge, where the “views are phenomenal,” he said. Near Queensland, the Whitsunday Islands provide the iconic Australian beach experience, and Cairns is a gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, which people can explore in countless ways: in a helicopter, on a glass-bottom boat or in the water snorkeling, diving or ocean walking. Uluru, formerly known as Ayers Rock, is a sacred place and a huge draw for cultural tourism. In Daintree Rainforest, groups can walk with an Aboriginal guide through their ancestral lands. Off the coast of South Australia, Kangaroo Island is a haven for wildlife where “everyone comes back and says, ‘I wish I had more time there,’” Vladinski said. In Rotorua, New Zealand, Maori guides use the thermal mud to cook a traditional hāngī meal, which travelers then eat for dinner. “Lord of the Rings” fans can visit the Hobbiton Movie Set near Matamata, and in the Waitomo Caves, living glowworms light up the walls. An overnight stay on a boat in the remote Milford Sound allows travelers to watch the sunset from their kayaks and discover waterfalls as seals jump all around their boats. 2018 TAP TRAVEL GUIDE
ON SAFARI IN KENYA
Going “on safari” invokes images of trekking in rugged terrain, sweating under a glaring sun and batting away unthinkable bugs. But Talbot Tours’ Kenya Safari Adventure is one of the most relaxing vacations you’ll ever take, said president Serge Talbot. The itinerary includes five game reserves: Amboseli, Samburu, Mount Kenya, Lake Nakuru and Maasai Mara national parks. Travelers stay in African lodges that rival American resorts and spend their days swimming, napping and reading between twice-daily game drives in the early morning and late afternoon. During each outing, travelers will see an “incredible variety of animals,” Talbot said. Guides, many of whom Talbot Tours has been using for more than 10 years, navigate six-person, pop-top safari vehicles through reserves where guests will spot lions, cheetahs, giraffes, gazelles, antelopes, elephants, baboons, wildebeests, zebras and more. At Sweetwaters Serena Camp, travelers stay in luxury tents that look directly across the game reserve; a fence keeps the animals separate. Serena Mountain Lodge is a four-story lodge built on stilts where every guest room, along with the dining room and lounge, overlooks
PUFFINS IN NEW BRUNSWICK
Courtesy Tourism New Brunswick
AN INDIGENOUS EXPERIENCE IN NEW ZEALAND
By Fraser Clements, courtesy Anderson Vacations
“WHEN I HEAR ABOUT ANY OF OUR ATLANTIC MARITIMES TRIPS, THE FIRST THING THAT COMES TO MIND IS THE FRIENDLINESS OF OUR PEOPLE.” — RICHARD ARNOLD
an illuminated waterhole and salt lick. Guests can watch the “pecking order” as animals take turns arriving to drink, Talbot said. Travelers marvel at thousands of pink flamingos at Lake Nakuru; the trip also includes visits to a giraffe compound, a chimpanzee sanctuary and an elephant orphanage. But one of guests’ favorite moments is the Maasai Mara village, where travelers can interact with the tribe and the children. IRELAND’S DINGLE PENINSULA Courtesy Fancy Free Holidays
MAASAI WARRIORS IN KENYA
Before he was Pope Benedict XVI, Joseph Ratzinger was a boy from Germany’s Bavaria region, where travelers can learn about his life during Ed-Ventures’ Pope Benedict’s Bavaria and the Passion Play itinerary. Groups will visit Marktl am Inn, where Benedict was born in 1927, and the village of Traunstein, where he spent his childhood. The trip also includes stops in Freising, where he studied and later taught at the School of Philosophy and Theology, and at the Cathedral of St. Mary, where he was ordained in 1951. But the showstopper is arguably the Passion Play in Oberammergau, a production the town has been doing since 1634 after vowing to put on the play if God spared them from the bubonic plague. Townspeople now perform the play several times a week May through October during every year that ends in zero. Actors must be from the town or be a direct descendent of someone who is. “It’s in German, but you know the story,” said Shannon Larsen, vice president of operations and TAP partner for Ed-Ventures. “The drama is amazing. It hits you right in the heart.” Although the trip is popular among Catholics and other Christian groups, “there’s so much to see in Bavaria, you could take Pope Benedict off there and just call it ‘Bavaria,’ and it would still be a nice, cool trip,” she said. “Frankly, there’s a ‘wow’ every day.” Those wows include a visit to Salzburg, scenic views of the Alps and plenty of World War II history, such as touring the Eagle’s Nest teahouse, which was given to Adolf Hitler as a gift in 1933.
John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe
Courtesy Talbot Tours
POPE BENEDICT’S BAVARIA AND THE PASSION PLAY
A BUILDING IN OBERAMMERGAU, GERMANY
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BY R AC H E L C A R T E R
FIND THE FAMOUS ON A TAP ITINERARY
rom the Black Hills to the Florida Keys, travelers can find the faces of famous Americans. More U.S. presidents have called Virginia home than any other state. New York’s Hudson Valley drew the magnates and tycoons of the Gilded Age. Boston was where the Sons of Liberty fomented the birth of the nation. Florida drew all sorts of notable names to its shores, and South Dakota is best known for the famous faces carved into its stone facades. These Travel Alliance Partners itineraries showcase some of the most influential people in American history.
HOMES OF PRESIDENTS
Thomas Jefferson was the third U.S. president. James Madison was the fourth. And groups will get an idea of how different the two Founding Fathers were while touring their 62
TWIN TRAVEL CONCEPTS TAKES GROUPS TO SEE KYKUIT, THE ROCKEFELLER FAMILY ESTATE ON THE HUDSON RIVER.
By Jamie Martorano, courtesy Twin Trave Concepts
2018 TAP TRAVEL GUIDE
Courtesy Twin Travel Concepts
A NORMAN ROCKWELL SELF-PORTRAIT
homes and estates during the Homes of Presidents and Virginia Byways itinerary operated by Mid Atlantic Receptive Services (MARS). “Madison was a very different person than Jefferson,” said Kate Scopetti, president of MARS. “You get kind of a different perspective of really the personalities of Madison and Jefferson, what they did together and how they communicated.” MARS customizes each trip, but most groups will tour Monticello, Jefferson’s home and mountaintop estate. The visitors center features a museum and a film that acclimates guests to Jefferson’s world before a shuttle takes the group to the house itself, which is filled with “things invented by Thomas Jefferson during his lifetime that are in use in the house still,” Scopetti said. Guests will see the slave quarters and the farmland and stop at the nearby tavern for a tour and “the best fried chicken in the world,” she said. Visitors can see where Madison and his wife, Dolley, lived at Montpelier in Orange, Virginia, and visit Mount Vernon, George Washington’s estate. During a guided tour, groups will see the bedroom where the United States’ first president died in 1799 and the key to the Bastille that hangs in the main hallway. In Washington, D.C., tours include Woodrow Wilson’s house and President Lincoln’s Cottage. Other options in Virginia include Jefferson’s boyhood home at Tuckahoe Plantation and Washington’s cottage in Winchester.
ELANOR ROOSEVELT OUTSIDE VAL-KILL COTTAGE
LITTLE BIGHORN BATTLEFIELD
Courtesy Twin Travel Concepts
Florida claims many famous people, from the original conquistadors searching for the Fountain of Youth to Ernest Hemingway and President Harry Truman. Wade Tours takes groups from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Coast and to the nation’s southernmost spot during its Florida’s Coastto-Coast itinerary. The nation’s oldest permanently occupied European settlement, St. Augustine feels like a European city. “We call it the oldest European City in America,” said Crystal DeLorenzo of Wade Tours. A trolley tour highlights sites including the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine, the Oldest Wooden School House, Flagler College, Tolomato Cemetery and Ripley’s Believe It or Not! museum. But one of the most popular stops is the Fountain of Youth, a 15-acre historic park; legend claims the park’s spring is the Fountain of Youth that Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de León was seeking in 1513. In Sarasota, John and Mable Ringling’s Ca’ d’Zan mansion sits on the shores of Sarasota Bay. The Ringlings built the Venetian-style mansion between 1924 and 1926, and groups can tour it along with the Ringling Circus Museum and Museum of Art. The winter estates of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford sit on the banks of the Caloosahatchee River in Fort Myers. Guests can explore 20 acres of botanical gardens; nine historic buildings, including Ford’s winter home; Edison’s Botanic Research Laboratory; and the Edison Ford Museum. “It’s really pretty and very old-Florida with a lot of live oak and Spanish moss,” DeLorenzo said. As the Florida Keys continue to recover from damage from Hurricane Irma, Wade will continue to travel there, where a historic guided trolley
By Brandon Blackburn, courtesy NPS Photo
tour highlights President Truman’s Little White House as well as Hemingway’s haunts, including his home and his favorite bars.
and the Crow Agency also provides guided tours. The tour also includes a stop at the Crazy Horse Memorial, an ongoing mountain-carving project that depicts the famous Oglala Lakota war leader and is designed to honor all Native American tribes.
MOUNT RUSHMORE AND CRAZY HORSE
More than 3 million people visit Mount Rushmore National Memorial every year, making it South Dakota’s top tourist attraction. But when groups visit, they often don’t plan enough time because “there’s really two parts to Mount Rushmore,” said Shebby Lee, owner of Shebby Lee Tours. During the day, visitors enjoy the viewing veranda and the ranger programs and take a flurry of pictures. But for the evening lighting ceremony, rangers lead a program about the meaning of the memorial, show the film “Freedom,” and ask active military and veterans to help with the lowering and folding of the flag before lighting the memorial. At Fort Abraham Lincoln, Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer’s final command post, the group tours the rebuilt Custer home. Guides wear period costumes and lead the tour as though they’re servants in the home while Custer and his wife are away. “It’s more than a tour; you go back to 1874,” Lee said. “It’s absolutely wonderful.” At Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, groups learn about the infamous battle where Crazy Horse brought together tribes to defeat Custer and his army. Rangers often lead talks, but Little Big Horn battlefield sits completely within the Crow Indian Reservation,
ROCKWELL TO ROCKEFELLER
For Nick Calderazzo, president of Twin Travel Concepts, the three R’s have a different meaning: Rockwell, Rockefeller and Roosevelt. The company’s From Rockwell to Rockefeller itinerary takes groups through the Hudson Valley and the Berkshire Mountains to the Gilded Age mansions and country retreats of some of the nation’s most notable names. The FDR Presidential Library and Museum is a national park where the home of Franklin D. Roosevelt is better known simply as Springwood. Groups can explore the library and museum during self-guided tours, but a guided tour of FDR’s home “is fascinating because you really get stories of all the leaders of the day that came there,” Calderazzo said. Another Roosevelt stop is Val-Kill Cottage, Eleanor Roosevelt’s personal home, about two miles from Springwood. Though she lived at Springwood, so did FDR’s mother, and Eleanor “decided she wanted her own place,” Calderazzo said. “It’s a great tour because she was an amazing woman.” Kykuit is the Rockefeller Estate along the Hudson River that was home to four generations of the Rockefeller family, starting with John
off-off broadway Off-off Broadway is on-on-on in cities across the state. North Dakota native Josh Duhamel enjoys one-of-a kind dining, shopping and entertainment in our vibrant downtowns. Share the fascinating cities of our state with your travel group. Visit us online to plan your next tour itinerary.
Fargo Theatre, downtown Fargo
2018 TAP TRAVEL GUIDE
D. Rockefeller, founder of Standard Oil. A tour leads groups through the main rooms of the six-story stone house and into the gardens that are dotted with Gov. Nelson Rockefeller’s sculpture collection. At the Norman Rockwell Home and Museum in the Berkshire village of Stockbridge, groups spend most of their time exploring the museum and Rockwell’s studio. Rockwell was famous for his Saturday Evening Post illustrations, and groups can see all the covers at the museum along with many of his larger pieces.
for his famous midnight ride before walking by the Paul Revere House. Many of the Sons of Liberty would gather at pubs along the Blackstone Block to plan the Revolution. There, travelers can eat at a culinary landmark: the Union Oyster House, America’s oldest restaurant. Guests will also learn about another pivotal but more contemporary figure in American history while touring the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. In the Oval Office exhibit, groups will see a rocking chair Kennedy used in his Oval Office and two photographs of his daughter, Caroline, that he kept on his desk.
SONS OF LIBERTY
Boston was where the United States of America began, and All American Tours’ Bean Town, Boston and the North Shore itinerary walks travelers through the footsteps of the people who shaped the nation. Groups will see some of the city’s and the country’s most important landmarks on Boston’s Freedom Trail either from the coach or during a walking tour. The Freedom Trail Foundation’s standard 90-minute Walk Into History tour features 11 of the trail’s 16 sites, and the threehour group tour covers all 16 sites, although visitors don’t go inside all of them. Either way, a costumed Freedom Trail Player guides the tour and talks about the significance of each stop. During a walk through the historic North End, visitors can stop at the Old North Church where the lanterns were hung to signal Paul Revere
SOUTH DAKOTA’S MOUNT RUSHMORE
A FLORIDA FOUNTAIN Courtesy Wade Tours
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TAP COMPANIES DELIVER ON CONCERTS AND CULTURE
usic and art: The two go hand in hand when it comes to evoking a reaction, conjuring a memory or inspiring a feeling. Maybe people grew up listening to the Grand Ole Opry on the radio or poring over a book of French impressionist works. Maybe they fell in love with Elvis Presley on the record player or studied modern art in college. Travel Alliance Partners (TAP) offers groups dozens of opportunities to encounter favorite arts attractions and discover new ones. The following TAP itineraries immerse travelers in culture, from contemporary art to country music.
ADVENTURES IN ART AND HISTORY
New York has the Met, Los Angeles has the Getty, and Columbus, Ohio, has a surprising number of art museums, collections, galleries and hands-on experiences to offer visitors. 66
GROUPS CAN HEAR LIVE MUSIC IN NASHVILLE HONKY-TONKS ON A TOUR WITH OREGONWEST EXCURSIONS.
Courtesy Nashville CVC
2018 TAP TRAVEL GUIDE
Courtesy Nashville CVC
NASHVILLE’S RYMAN AUDITORIUM
During the Adventures in Art and History itinerary offered by Joy Tour and Travel, groups will tour the Columbus Museum of Art (CMA), which recently renovated about 38,000 square feet in the original 1974 wing and expanded with a new 50,000-square-foot two-story building. The project allowed CMA to display more of it permanent collection, including some larger pieces and contemporary installations. Topiary Park is an outdoor park near the museum and is the only known topiary rendering of a painting, specifically Georges Seurat’s postimpressionist work “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte.” There’s even a point where visitors can stand to get the right perspective and can reference a picture of the painting on a nearby plaque. In the Short North district, groups can explore 16 or so galleries, take in murals throughout the district and visit shops, restaurants, boutiques and bars. The district is also home to the Pizzuti Collection, the private collection of Ron and Ann Pizzuti, which is housed in a historic building. During a Coffee and Canvas session at Brandt-Roberts Galleries, people break into groups of four and each paint a quadrant of a canvas that hooks together in the back so that each person can take home a piece.
AMERICAN BANJO MUSEUM
Courtesy American Banjo Museum
MUSIC AND MORE IN TENNESSEE
Tennessee is home to two music meccas: Nashville, known for its country roots, and Memphis, home of the blues. That makes OregonWest Excursions’ Music and More in Tennessee itinerary a must for music lovers. In Nashville, guests take a backstage tour of the “new” Grand Ole Opry and its previous venue, the historic Ryman Auditorium. “They love all the history of the Grand Ole Opry because they may have seen that on TV or listened to it growing up,” said Tony Minden, owner of OregonWest Excursions. The group tours the Gibson guitar factory and visits the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, where “people don’t realize what’s there until they get inside of it,” Minden said. “Sometimes, they go back on their free time to see more.” While touring the Historic RCA Studio B, the group gets into the booth to record its own song, usually one of Elvis’ gospel hits. “We all get a CD at the end, which are pretty bad,” he said with a laugh. Memphis, of course, calls for a tour of Elvis’ iconic home Graceland, which “is on their bucket list.” The mansion and grounds also serve as a museum, preserving not only how the King lived, but also costumes and keepsakes from his career, and his gravesite. During a city tour of Memphis, a step-on guide from Backbeat Tours will play songs on a guitar as he tells stories about Elvis and the city.
CAJUNS, CREOLES AND GOOD TIMES ON THE BAYOU TOUR OKLAHOMA OPRY
Before visitors hear their first note of New Orleans jazz or taste their first bite of crawfish, the first thing they notice about Louisiana is “how friendly the people are,” said Rick Pharr, owner of CTN Travels. “People say hello and greet you and talk to you like you’ve been family friends for two generations,” he said. Visitors’ favorite part of CTN Travels’ tour Cajuns, Creoles and Good Times
Courtesy Centennial Rodeo Opry
on the Bayou is a toss-up between the food, the music and the people. The foot-stomping music of New Orleans often has the distinctive sound of an accordion, which is likely a Martin. Melodeons, or diatonic button accordions, have buttons rather than keys like those on a piano, and Clarence “Junior” Martin has been making them for more than 30 years. Martin Accordions is a family-run business that’s housed in a large warehouse in Scott, Louisiana, just outside Lafayette. When groups visit, Junior; his daughter, Pennye Huval; and his grandson, Joel Martin, give a one-and-a-half-hour presentation that includes playing several types of music. “You can’t get ’em out of Martins; they would stay there forever if they could,” Pharr said of his groups. Guests also tour Oak Alley Plantation, which is like most English plantations in terms of scope; that’s countered by the colorful Laura Plantation, one of the few remaining Creole plantations. The trip includes visits to Louisiana’s Old State Capitol and the Capitol Park Museum in Baton Rouge, as well as a bayou swamp tour at McGee’s Landing, before hitting New Orleans.
BRANSON, BENTONVILLE AND BEYOND
In Branson, Missouri, travelers are inundated with toe-tapping, hand-clapping music. Then, in Bentonville, Arkansas, they are inspired by breathtaking works of art.
Between the two destinations, “not only are they getting the entertainment and the art, but they’re getting the scenery,” said Kim Vance, owner of AdVance Tour and Travel. Though subject to change, the current lineup in Branson includes Doug Gabriel, “The Dutton Family Show,” “No. 1 Hits of the ’60s (and ’50s Too!)” and Classic Country’s “Patsy Cline and Friends” show. The “Six” show features six brothers singing a cappella, and Doug Gabriel’s show, which “just blew me away,” Vance said. With upbeat tunes and lots of costume changes during “No. 1 Hits of the ’60s (and ’50s Too!),” “people come out dancing, and a lot of them say it’s their favorite,” Vance said. A new experience Vance offers that has been a huge success is Wine, Dine and Yacht With the Stars on the Landing Princess yacht. Entertainers from the itinerary come out for an hourlong wine reception aboard the cruise and mingle with the group. “Usually, we get a pretty good turnout — sometimes we get as many entertainers as group members,” she said. The group visits the modern white-and-glass Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, nestled on 120 acres of Ozark forest on the edge of downtown Bentonville. The museum displays as many as 500 of its several-thousand-pieces collection at any time, including two iconic portraits of George Washington. At the George Dombek Studio and Gallery in Goshen, Arkansas, the artist will greet guests during a reception and do signings, an exclusive experience for the group, Vance said. Visitors may be able to take a hands-on glass class or watch a demonstration at Terra Studios, famous for its “Bluebird of Happiness.”
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OPRY TO OPRY
Say “opry,” and everyone immediately thinks of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. But there’s another opry in Oklahoma City: the Centennial Rodeo Opry in Stockyards City. During the Let’s Go Travelin’ itinerary Opry to Opry, people may focus on the Tennessee side of things — the Opry, Graceland, Historic RCA Studio B, and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum; but overlooking Oklahoma’s music contributions would be a mistake. The Centennial Rodeo Opry got its start as a backyard gathering of family and friends who loved to play and sing country music before becoming the Oklahoma Opry in 1977. The show moved into the historic Rodeo Theater in Stockyard City in 2002. Weekly Saturdaynight shows introduce new performers and bring back Oklahoma City favorites in a live music show that’s appropriate for all ages. The American Banjo Museum in the city’s Bricktown features more than 400 instruments and explores the history of the banjo, from primitive banjos built by African slaves to minstrel-age instruments from the mid-19th century to classical-era instruments dating to the late 1800s and early 1900s, and continuing with the bluegrass, folk and jazz genres. Groups can take a self-guided tour followed by a banjo recital or a sing-along performance in Your Father’s Mustache’s event room, which is modeled after a popular banjo nightclub of the 1960s. The Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame is housed in the Frisco Depot in Muskogee. Every year since its founding in 1997, the Hall of Fame inducts new musicians and has now inducted over 100 artists. The historic freight depot serves as a concert venue and often hosts perfor-
mances, including a September show by Milton Patton, the country singer from Season 8 of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.”
“YOU CAN’T GET ’EM OUT OF MARTINS; THEY WOULD STAY THERE FOREVER IF THEY COULD.” — RICK PHARR “SIX” IN BRANSON
ARKANSAS’ CRYSTAL BRIDGES MUSEUM
Courtesy AdVance Tour and Travel
DANCING AT MARTIN ACCORDIONS Courtesy CTN Travels
Courtesy AdVance Tour and Travel
your adventure begins at visitkansascityks.com | 913.321.5800
TRAVEL ALLIANCE PARTNERS FEATURED TRIPS FEATURED TRIPS • THE BEST OF TEXAS: Discover the Hidden Gems of Texas
KIM VANCE 417-485-7445
• BRANSON, BENTONVILLE AND BEYOND: Best of Branson and NW Arkansas • BRANSON AT SEA: Cruise with your Branson favorite entertainers We specialize in great customer service and hands-on outside the box itineraries. We make sure our passengers experience everything the destination has to offer. ADVANCETOURANDTRAVEL.COM KIM@ADVANCETOURANDTRAVEL.COM
• GREAT TRAIN ESCAPES, NEW ENGLAND FALL FOLIAGE • GREAT TRAIN ESCAPES TRAINS ACROSS COLORADO
JAYME MILLER 206-935-6848
• RIVER CRUISE WITH GARDENSMART OF PBS FEATURING AMSTERDAM, HOLLAND AND BELGIUM Alki Tours can your make your World Wide Travel Dreams come true. Check out all our web site has to offer. We look forward to making your travel dreams come true! www.alkitours.com WWW.ALKITOURS.COM
FEATURED TRIPS • LOUISIANA, NEW ORLEANS, HOUMA, LAFAYETTE, LAKE CHARLES & BATON ROUGE, from 959.00 ppd
DAVID G. BURNS 800-905-0590
• HOT SPRINGS OR EUREKA SPRINGS, ARKANSAS, 4 days from $325.00 ppd Since 1970, we have offered the perfect all inclusive distinctive and economical package tours throughout the US and Canada, for groups of 30 persons or more. Five offices across the US. ABA, NTA, TAP DAVID@ALLAMERICANTOURS.US
FEATURED TRIPS • CANADIAN MARITIMES: CIRCLE THE BAY OF FUNDY • CIRCLE NEWFOUNDLAND & LABRADOR
• INUIT LANDS & THE ROAD TO THE ARCTIC – 8 DAYS • BEST OF THE CANADIAN ROCKIES - 10 DAYS
JIM WARREN 866-814-7378
• AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND HIGHLIGHTS - 15 DAYS
• PHILADELPHIA OR BOSTON, 4 days from $440.00 ppd
RICHARD ARNOLD 800-565-7173
Anderson Vacations is the leader in customized tour planning for Canada, United States and Australia/New Zealand. We also feature sheduled departures and Independent travel arrangements. WWW.ANDERSONVACATIONS.CA
FEATURED TRIPS • ROAD TO THE GREAT PACIFIC NORTHWEST • THE ASPEN GOLD OF COLORADO TRAINS
CARLA MEIEROTTO 319-753-2864
• CANADA BY RAIL: THE WORLD’S GREATEST TRAIN TRIP Atlantic Tours offers custom-designed group programs, scheduled guaranteed departures and self drive/city stays in the Canadian Maritimes, step-on-guides, private cruise shore excursions and day tours. WWW.ATLANTICTOURS.COM
Offering custom planned group tours for those wishing to expand their travels with the aid of a Burlington Trailways professional driver and a friendly, experienced tour host. TrailwaysTravel.com WWW.TRAILWAYSTRAVEL.COM
2018 TAP TRAVEL GUIDE
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FEATURED TRIPS • TANZANIA: The Great Migration, the Serengeti, fantastic sightseeing and wonderful lodges
RICK PHARR 800-596-8687
SUE BIGGS 313-388-0448
• WALTZ ACROSS TENNESSEE: A musical wonderland featuring Pigeon Forge, Nashville and Memphis
• THE GREAT GATSBY GETAWAY • ADRIATIC CRUISE, CROATIA, VENICE
• CALIFORNIA HERE WE GO: Los Angeles to San Francisco
• SOUTHERN CHARMS
CTN Travels begins in 28 year of serving a variety of group travelers. Customized group tours are our specialty. Groups of all sizes are welcome.
We offer guests an exciting and informative tour coupled with a cost effective rate. Our tours include planned activities as well as ample time for guests to pursue their own interests.
FEATURED TRIPS • MAGNIFICENT SCOTLAND & THE EDINBURGH TATTOO • MONTREAL & QUEBEC CITY
JULIA BRYAN 800-668-6859
FEATURED TRIPS • GRAND TOUR OF SICILY FROM PALERMO TO TAORMINA
RICHARD DURGAN 800-234-9959
• GRAND TOUR OF ITALY FROM VENICE TO THE AMALFI COAST
• NEWFOUNDLAND & LABRADOR
• SORRENTO FEATURING NAPLES, CAPRI, POMPEII, AMALFI DRIVE
DeNureTours is a Canadian company that began in 1960. Our vacations in North America, Britain and Europe feature a kaleidoscope of experiences designed to turn ideas and dreams into lasting memories.
Award-winning full-service agency with a focus on high-value European group tours with Italy a specialty. Our forte is to be able to customize a European Tour to meet your exact specifications for your expected number of travelers.
FEATURED TRIPS • 2020 PASSION PLAY IN OBERAMMERGAU • BRITISH ISLES: SCOTLAND, WALES & ENGLAND
SHANNON LARSEN 507-289-3332
FEATURED TRIPS • EXCEPTIONAL IRELAND • DOWNTON ABBEY & ENGLISH CASTLES
SANDI PUFAHL 800-421-3330
• CENTRAL EUROPE: GERMANY, SWITZERLAND, AUSTRIA & PRAGUE
• JFK 100TH CENTENARY ON CAPE COD
With decades of experience creating tours, Ed-Ventures has gained the skills and reputation for delivering top-notch customized group tours to worldwide destinations.
Guided Deluxe Worldwide Vacations since 1989. We are a family owned business and a Partner in Travel Alliance Partners since 2005. Members of NTA since 1991, CLIA since 1996 and ABA since 2010.
TRAVEL ALLIANCE PARTNERS FEATURED TRIPS
“TJ” THOMAS B. MORGAN, JR 800-276-1528
• BEACHES OF ROCKY POINT, MEXICO • BEST OF THE BARRIO CUISINE TOUR
JUSTIN OSBON 800-968-9161
• 15-DAY HEART OF EUROPE CIRCLE TOUR • 16-DAY HEART OF BRITISH ISLES TOUR
• TUCSON, UNESCO CITY OF GASTRONOMY
• 17-DAY WORLD WAR II MEMORIAL TOUR
Family owned & operated since 1916- we specialize in tours of the Southwest and Mexico, sightseeing tours, (culinary and local), and vehicles for charter from vans to state of the art motorcoaches.
Image Tours is a 3rd generation family owned and operated company specializing exclusively in escorted Europe Tours since 1939.
GREG WINGHAM 513-777-8221
• RED CLIFFS ADVENTURE BY RAIL • LILACS & LEISURE ON MACKINAC ISLAND
FEATURED TRIPS • RAILROAD ENGINEER: THE ULTIMATE EXPERIENCE
LEE DAHL 303-659-4858
• FALL COLORS ON THE SCENIC BYWAYS OF COLORADO
• ROCK -N- SOUL OF MEMPHIS
• YELLOWSTONE IN WINTER: A MAGICAL PLACE
Joy Tour & Travel has been developing exciting trips for groups since 1985. We serve mid to upper scale clientele with nice hotels that are 3 star or better and many inclusions and few options.
Experience the true Southwest. We offer unique, active and informative travel experiences. Our philosophy is to provide the best value and service possible.
FEATURED TRIPS FEATURED TRIPS
• SPRINGTIME IN THE MOUNTAINS: Ranch Relaxing and Biltmore Touring, • CAJUNS TO COWBOYS: Zydeco, Cowboy Cookouts, Cattledrives and Cowboys Stadium
• MOST INCLUSIVE ROSE PARADE EXPERIENCES • CAMAZING GIRLFRIEND GETAWAYS WINOS (Women In Need Of Spoiling)
LAURIE LINCOLN 800-300-6246
• OPRY TO OPRY: Oklahoma Opry to Grande Ole Opry
• MAJESTIC NORTHERN CALIFORNIA COAST
We are Peach Cobbler, Fried Green Tomatoes, Grits and Gravy.Golf, Music, History and Culture and more fun than you can shake a stick at. We love it all and we want to take you there.
From our innovative day and multi-day tours to our specialized Rose Parade and WINOS itineraries, we have provided our travelers with unique and enriching experiences since 1985.
JUDY JOHNSON 866-992-8784
2018 TAP TRAVEL GUIDE
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FEATURED TRIPS • FOOTSTEPS TO FREEDOM, FEATURING THE TUBMAN TRAIL, NMAAHC, MLK , MORE!
KATE SCOPETTI 800-769-5912
TONY MINDEN 503-585-3979
• AN EAST COAST SWING, NYC, BALTIMORE, PHILADELPHIA, LANCASTER, GETTYSBURG
• CIRCLE OREGON • JOURNEY UP THE KITSAP PENINSULA FEATURING VICTORIA, WHISTLER & VANCOUVER BC • SAVANNNAH CHARLESTON & THE GOLDEN ISLES OF GEORGIA
Mid Atlantic Tours and Receptive Services operates hundreds of hand crafted, custom tours for groups traveling to Washington DC, NYC, Virginia, the Mid Atlantic Region, and the World!
Our tours are designed with a “love of discovery”. We include upscale accommodations, exciting and unique attractions. Our Tour Directors are professional and experienced, to ensure everyone has fun.
• WASHINGTON DC, CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL WITH HOMES OF THE PRESIDENTS
FEATURED TRIPS • CUSTER STATE PARK BUFFALO ROUNDUP • LEGENDARY NORTH DAKOTA • LEWIS & CLARK TRAIL
SHEBBY LEE, CTP 605-343-4852
STEVE EVERIDGE • CANALS, CASTLES AND CRUISE: NEW YORK FINGER LAKES 800-572-3303 • NASHVILLE COUNTRY CHRISTMAS AT THE OPRYLAND HOTEL • HOLLAND TULIP FESTIVAL
Journeys of Exploration and Discovery. Explore the West where legends live. Enjoy magnificent western parks as you’ve never seen them before with special insights provided by experts in the field. WWW.SHEBBYLEETOURS.COM
A tour operator based in Staunton, Virginia, offering superior escorted tours throughout the United States and Canada since 1972. Quality vacations at value pricing with a personal touch. WWW.SHENANDOAHTOURS.COM
FEATURED TRIPS • MIGHTY 5 SALT LAKE CITY
JASON MURRAY 800-970-5864
KEVIN MURPHY, CTP 800-951-5556
• KEY WEST, MIAMI & THE EVERGLADES
• GRAND CIRCLE EXPERIENCE
• FERRIES & TOWNS OF PUGET SOUND
• TRAIL OF THE ANCIENTS
• NEW YORK CITY: BEYOND BROADWAY & THE BRONX
Receptive Tour Operater focusing on adventure, scenic, and photography tours throughout the Southwestern US. Small Group Experience from 1 to 25 customers. Private and Custom Tours also.
Our company prides itself on creating memories through unique experiences with many options. Our groups are smaller in size enabling us to provide more personalized service and individual attention.
TRAVEL ALLIANCE PARTNERS FEATURED TRIPS MICHAEL COLDESINA 800-662-4424
• BASEBALL HALL OF FAME INDUCTION WEEKEND • PRO FOOTBALL ENSHRINEMENT WEEKEND • MULTI-DAY BASEBALL ROAD TRIPS
ANDY HILLARD 800-779-4869
• THE BIG E (EASTERN STATES EXHIBITION) • A NEW TWIST TO MACKINAC
We own and operate an award-winning fleet of deluxe motorcoaches, including a tour division that provides fully escorted travel packages for both individuals and groups throughout the United States. INFO@TRISTATETRAVEL.COM
Talbot Tours offers groups, individuals and families exceptional values on tours, cruises, and international destinations. Fully escorted and independent travel services. WWW.TALBOTTOURS.COM
FEATURED TRIPS • HAUNTED, THROUGHOUT NEW YORK: GHOSTS, ASYLUM, WINE AND SURPRISES!
NICHOLAS CALDERAZZO 917-575-6600
CRYSTAL DELORENZO 800-955-9233
• FROM ROCKWELL TO ROCKEFELLER: ROCKING THE BERKSHIRES & HUDSON VALLEY Always thinking of something new, quirky and surprising, our tours are custom-designed to your tastes and budgets. NY City, The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic are home. TWINTRAVELCONCEPTS.COM
SHAWN HORMAN 800-532-2113
• MYRTLE BEACH SPRING SPECTACULAR • EXPLORE MICHIGAN FEATURING MACKINAC ISLAND AND THE UP
• THE YELLOWSTONE EXPERIENCE • CANYON COUNTRY EXPERIENCE
• CAPE COD…..THE LOVELY ISLAND OF NANTUCKET
• CALIFORNIA RAIL TOUR
Wade Tours & Travel, a family owned business since 1926, serving the Northeast offering single & multi-day tours across the continental US and Canada with our fleet of modern state-of-the-art coaches.
Western Leisure is a full service receptive tour operator specializing in custom group tours to the National Parks of the west and along the Pacific Coast.
• KENYA SAFARI ADVENTURE • COSTA RICA
• VERMONT & NEW HAMPSHIRE IN JUNE: LOCAL EXPERIENCES, JUNE BLOOMS
• A SPECTACULAR SOUTHERN SPRINGTIME
SERGE TALBOT 800-662-9933
• SAN FRANCISCO, WINE COUNTRY & MONTEREY
We offer Baseball Road Trips, Spring Training, Hall of Fame packages, Major Sporting Events and can customize packages to fit your schedule and budget. WWW.SPORTSTRAVELANDTOURS.COM
2018 TAP TRAVEL GUIDE
To help you discover the rich history and culture that permeates our historic districts and museums. VisitSiouxFalls.com/Tours-Are-Here
The The Group Travel Leader November/December 2017 issue features the 2018 Travel Alliance Partners Travel Guide and trip ideas for internat...
Published on Nov 1, 2017
The The Group Travel Leader November/December 2017 issue features the 2018 Travel Alliance Partners Travel Guide and trip ideas for internat...