Select Traveler March April 2018

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select T R A V E L E R

VOL.26 NO.2




ON THE COVER: Sheep and stunning mountain scenes cover much of New Zealand’s countryside. Photo by Chemc.


22 35 riverfronts NEWS

checking in: DAN STYPA

toolbox: conference marketing: ON THE COVERAGE Google 101 ROAD



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Founder and Publisher Partner Executive Editor Associate Editor Senior Writer Creative Director Art Director Circulation Manager Copy Editor Staff Writer/Marketing Coordinator Director of Sales & Marketing





Select Traveler, the Magazine for Bank, Alumni and Chamber Travel Planners, is published bimonthly by The Group Travel Leader, Inc., 301 East High Street, Lexington, Kentucky 40507 and is distributed free of charge to qualified travel program directors throughout the United States. All other travel suppliers, including tour operators, destinations, attractions, transportation companies, hotels, restaurants and other travel-related companies, may subscribe to Select Traveler by sending a check for $49 for one year to: Select Traveler, Circulation Department, 301 East High Street, Lexington, Kentucky 40507. 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. NAME OR ADDRESS CHANGES: If your copy of Select Traveler should be mailed to another manager in your organization, or if you personally know another travel director who is not receiving Select Traveler, please send your correction to: Select Traveler, 301 East High St., Lexington, Kentucky 40507, or call (859) 2530455.


Great tours are Made in Cbus. Pair a visit to the zoo Jack Hanna calls home with a cream puff at iconic Schmidt’s in historic German Village. As a leader in experiential tours, Columbus is a perfect fit for a group of any size (or taste)!

perspective P U B L I S H E R ’ S


just returned from our annual Select Traveler Conference in Louisville, Kentucky, and I’m always inspired by the vast array of travel that comes up in conversation there. It is an exhilarating way to kick off our year. Thanks to the great work of our moderators, we had another outstanding breakout session in Louisville, which allows me to examine the comments from dozens of planners in the room. Here are just three that caught my eye this year: “If I’m O.K., they’re O.K.” This was one delegate’s response to a question about the effects of terrorism incidents. What a powerful statement! This planner may or may not realize how significant that sentiment is. If the planner is ready to go see a part of the world, so are the planner’s travelers. They have that much trust in the leadership and travel expertise this person possesses. They follow, and the world is opened to them. “They must be good — our time is important.” And, “Yes, if it’s someplace we honestly believe we’ll go.” These are two responses regarding familiarization trips and whether our delegates use them. I really like the matter-of-fact approach these two planners expressed. The responses in general were favorable regarding the value of these trips, but these planners emphasized the investment they make to participate. These are research events intended to yield return trips with their groups. “Our travelers are always on the lookout for what’s next. We put out a sevento-eight-event schedule and they’ll say, ‘What else?’” I don’t doubt this. Many of these groups have travelers who have been to nearly every continent on Earth. In 20 years of travel with a bank, chamber or alumni group, a couple could easily have done 40 to 50 trips. It’s no wonder these delegates tell us they must continually strike a balance between going someplace new and offering all the old favorites. The travel appetites of their memberships are incredibly diverse. I believe that’s why so many planners make a point of telling us how much they learn about unfamiliar places by attending. May it ever be so.

Email me anytime with your thoughts at

Mac Lacy 6

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follow us @ gotripsinc




do your trips appeal to different age demographics? JEAN SIMKINS

VISTA CLUB COORDINATOR | FIRST STATE BANK MENDOTA, ILLINOIS “Since we are a bank travel club for seniors, all of our trips are offered to the 50-and-above age bracket. We have found that the more elderly members do not sign up for trips that require more physical activity, and we stress this activity level when we introduce each trip.”



Travel ☼ Thoughtfully Designed ☼ ☼ Delightfully Executed ☼

COLUMBIA, MISSOURI “The Mizzou Alumni Association’s tours are tailored to meet the travel needs of the traditional alumni traveler. Our alumni travelers are now the baby boomer generation that ranges in age from 50s to 70s. Of course, we do have travelers both younger and older than that.”


PRESIDENT AND CEO | MOSES LAKE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE MOSES LAKE, WASHINGTON “We offer a variety of trips that will appeal to different groups of people. We try to keep our trips under two weeks for those that are working, but occasionally we do some trips that are three weeks or longer, knowing that those will only appeal to our retired travelers. We also try to offer one domestic trip per year to appeal to those who do not want to have long plane rides. All of our trips offer optional tours, which allow the more adventurous to have a faster pace, and those wanting a more leisurely experience can have that as well.”


DIRECTOR, LIFELONG LEARNING AND SENIOR ALUMNI PROGRAMS | LIPSCOMB ALUMNI TRAVEL NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE “Most of our trips are tailored for adults of all ages. However, the majority of our promotion is targeted to adults who are of semiretirement or retirement age. On occasion, we have had trips that were multigenerational in nature as well.”



888-55-TRIPS 8

MARION, IOWA “The Connect Club is open to anyone who is 50 years of age or older. We typically offer a one-size-fits-all tour that would appeal to everyone. I am currently working with a new travel partner to focus on tours specifically designed for a younger traveler (50s and 60s) or an active older traveler. We realize we need to start attracting a younger crowd since our core group is getting older and not traveling as much. The tours will be shorter in length, small groups of people, off the beaten path, culturally immersive and supporting the local economy.”

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Fall in love with the rhythm of the waves with hands-on experiences and uncommon access offered exclusively for groups. Plan your group’s Live the Life Adventure at

checking in DAN STYPA





RICE UNIVERSITY HOUSTON Founded in 1912, Rice University is a private institution that is home to nearly 7,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The Traveling Owls educational travel program is available to the school’s 55,000 alumni members. Born: Newton Falls, Ohio. Education: B.A. in communications from Bowling Green State University, Ohio, and M.S. in educational administration from the University of Tennessee Employment: Stypa worked at the University of South Florida until 2011, when he started his current position at Rice University. Family: Stypa’s partner works as a cardiologist at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas. They have two feisty yet adorable dogs named Frieda and Knightro. Hobbies: Travel, cooking, shopping and reading.

BY ELIZA MYERS hough Dan Stypa now plans trips as exotic as the Silk Road in Uzbekistan, when he took responsibility for the Traveling Owls program with Rice University in 2012, he had never been out of North America. “Prior to Rice University, I was working with faculty programming,” said Stypa, associate director of alumni programs. “When this opportunity with Rice opened up, I was really excited about the travel aspect of the job. My only previous experience traveling internationally was to Canada. Once I came here, that certainly changed.” Not only did Stypa eagerly sign on to lead Traveling Owls, but he was also tasked to assess the value of the program, which started in 1970. From the first day, Stypa worked to discover if Traveling Owls benefited Rice University enough to continue in its current form. What he found caused the university to essentially double the program from about 15 trips a year to its current offering of 30 trips a year.



Traveling Owls group poses in front of Australia’s Uluru or Ayers Rock.


To study the program’s impact, Stypa talked with key travelers, reviewed past trips and compared Traveling Owls with other institutions’ travel programs. “I found that the travelers who were going on the trip really valued the educational enrichment of the trips,” said Stypa. “While these were, of course, vacations, they were taking these trips to learn in a much more immersive way about places all around the world. “They were also taking the trips for the sense of community. I was pleasantly surprised that people kept in touch after the trips. It’s an experience that lasts much longer than when they are in a destination together.” After Stypa felt confident the program had value in attaching people to Rice University, he decided the university could double its tours without diluting the program. He also placed emphasis on using faculty to customize educational experiences. Stypa further added a focus

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on fostering a sense of affinity amongst travelers for Rice University. “No longer are you going on a trip and then you are done with Rice,” said Stypa. “Now, once the trip is over, you are receiving invitations for learning and volunteer opportunities. We’ve really been intentional about integrating the travel program with the overall life of Rice University.” If the Chinese consulate gives a talk at Rice University, for example, Stypa invites all members who previously traveled with the program to China.

not just for the experience but also to interact with the other travelers and help strengthen their connection to Rice University. “I have incredible memories from all the places I’ve visited,” said Stypa. “One that stands out is a trip to Tanzania on a safari journey in the Serengeti. One of our travelers had a dream to see a family of elephants. As we rode, we saw an elephant family with one baby. To see this traveler with tears in his eyes because his dream had just come true was really powerful.”

F ROM 1 , 0 0 0 T O 3 0

When Stypa and other alumni staff members sit down to choose tours for the following year, they start with close to 1,000 trip proposals and narrow it down to 30 they think will resonate with alumni. Stypa chooses trips close to home at national parks and as far away as Antarctica. To help whittle down the daunting number of possibilities, he consults trip recommendations from post-trip evaluation forms, the destinations of peer travel programs and tour operators’ expertise. To debut the coming year’s tours, the university hosts a summer preview party for past and present travelers. Attendees dine on international cuisine and reconnect with other travelers and faculty members. Traveling Owls also offers a holiday party close to December with food and drink that represent various international holiday cultures. “We also invite Rice students studying here from abroad,” said Stypa. “So travelers are not only enjoying the holiday event, but they are also able to talk with students from the area they have personally visited. It helps bridge a gap with their experience.” Stypa invites travelers to continue conversations with foreign students by signing up for the university’s International Friendship Program. The program pairs volunteers with international Rice students. “They can host the student in their home for Thanksgiving or take them pumpkin carving at Halloween,” said Stypa. “These students are coming to Rice as their first exposure to the U.S. The travelers volunteer to serve as hosts to help navigate the student’s transition not only to Rice but also the United States.”


When marketing alumni travel programs, many planners typically target only a 50-yearsand-over age demographic. However, Stypa tried a new approach with resounding success. “Rather than relying solely on age, we are pulling marketing lists based on degrees of study or profession,” said Stypa. “This lets us target a demographic that even if they are younger than our traditional traveler, they might have an interest in our tour’s theme. So if we are going to Belize, we pull a list of everyone with a science background.” The experience paid off, since most first-time travelers of 2017 were younger than the traditional alumni traveler age demographic. Traveling Owls also offers several trips a year geared toward young alumni by shortening the trip’s duration, lowering the price and increasing the itinerary’s flexibility. For nearly all of the 30 trips, Stypa recruits a faculty or a staff member to come along, keeping the focus on Rice University. Stypa may not have traveled much before coming to Rice University, but now he loves joining one or two trips a year,

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• In each place you visit, take time to experience the culture by visiting with residents. • Always work to make memories for your travelers that they’ll forever associate with your organization. • Have fun. With all the responsibilities associated with planning, executing and leading trips, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the work and not enjoy the experience yourself.



Islands in the Sun Cruises & Tours, Inc.









It’s getting easier to work from the road



ometimes you just have to take your work with you. The days right before a big trip might be some of your most stressful times in the office. In addition to making final preparations for the trip, you may be busy trying to get ahead on work that will be due while you’re gone or rushing to beat a deadline so that you won’t be thinking about a big project while you travel. And while you can often get everything accomplished before your departure, there may be times when the best solution is to plan strategically to do some of your work from the road. Many business travelers are adept at working on the go, but most group tours aren’t set up with productivity in mind. You might be able to stay on top of your email with a smartphone, but getting more work done on a group trip will require special planning. Here are some tips for those times when you must work on the road.

SCHE DUL E STRAT E GICALLY If you head out on a trip with the vague idea that you’d like to get some work done at some point during your travels, chances are you’ll accomplish little. To make sure you finish what needs to be done, plan ahead and schedule some times during the trip to work, such as during a flight, in your hotel room before breakfast or during a long motorcoach ride. Planning will help you stay committed to a work schedule and will make sure the work has minimal impact on the time you spend with your travelers.


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PLA N F OR POWER If you’re like many smartphone-dependent travelers, you probably already keep an eye on your device’s battery meter and look for places to charge during a day on the road. When you need to work during a trip, your power needs can become even more pressing. In addition to using your phone or tablet more, you may need to power a laptop as well. So plan for times when you can charge your device batteries throughout the day and invest in a power block or a battery backup case that you can use to charge your phone if it gets low while you’re out and about.

STAY CONNE CTE D In today’s world, working means using WiFi. It’s becoming easier to find free, high-speed internet access in hotels and on motorcoaches. But in airports or other public places, as well as in flight, you’ll probably have to pay to get online. Access fees of $5 to $20 might seem steep to leisure travelers, but if you have work to do, paying for internet access can be a smart purchase. If you plan to use public or in-flight Wi-Fi regularly, consider buying a monthly subscription plan from providers such as Boingo or GoGo.

MAKE US E OF TH E CLOUD There’s nothing more frustrating when working on the road then realizing you’ve left an important file back at the office. To make sure you have everything you need at your fingertips when traveling, use a cloud service like Dropbox or Google Drive. You can upload your work to these services before you leave and then have access to the files from any internet-connected device in the world. And if you use Dropbox’s syncing features, work you do on your tablet or laptop will automatically be updated on your workplace computer when you return home.

T E T HE R WHE N NE CE SSA RY If you need to use your laptop to get online quickly and don’t want to pay full price for just a few minutes of web access in a public place, the solution may already be in your pocket. Most smartphones offer a tethering feature, which allows you to use your phone’s mobile data to create an internet connection for your computer. Look in your phone’s settings menu for the personal hotspot or mobile hotspot options and follow the on-screen prompts. If your itinerary includes international travel, you should check with your mobile provider to see if tethering is available outside the United States.

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SOARS IN LOUISVILLE Photos by Dan Dickson


The circus came to town compliments of French Lick Resort.

elegates to the annual Select Traveler Conference recently held in Louisville had a “super” time, not to mention a quite productive one. In this city known for bourbon, the Kentucky Derby and Muhammad Ali, 325 delegates worked hard during three busy marketplace sessions and took in loads of information about travel destinations and travelers’ needs. A big Super Bowl party also highlighted the gathering. Louisville embraced the delegates. “We’re glad to have loyalty travel planners in town,” said Saundra Robertson of the Greater Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Traditionally, these planners bring groups that stay a little longer and can afford upscale experiences, including full-service hotels. Hopefully, they saw us with fresh eyes. Louisville is having a renaissance.” “It’s the fourth time we’ve held a conference in Louisville but years since Select Traveler was here,” said Joe Cappuzzello, conference president and CEO. “Downtown Louisville has exploded with Museum Row — with the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory and the Muhammad Ali Center — [and] Whiskey Row, which features the Evan Williams Bourbon Ex-

perience. Louisville is right up there with Nashville as a hot city. Louisville has one of the top CVBs in the country. I travel a lot, and it’s a force.” Mac Lacy, publisher of Select Traveler magazine, shared with delegates hot trends affecting travel. “Incomes are up, taxes are down,” said Lacy. “Home values are high. We’re at a boom time for travel. Every tour operator can be on a roll. Airline competition is fierce due to inexpensive fuel prices. New routes are forming. The lodging industry is enjoying record business.” The main purpose of the Select Traveler Conference is to pair travel program directors with destination providers for hundreds of brief yet potentially profitable appointments. Each program director came with a personal agenda. “I’m seeking new destinations for 2019 and making connections with suppliers,” said Kathy Scego of Maries County Bank, Owensville, Missouri. “I want something different than what my competitors offer.” John Bowler of Dixie State University in St. George, Utah, was overwhelmed with ideas. “We’ve been a junior college for a hundred years and are transitioning to a university,” he said.



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Friends and competitors!

“We’re adding new value through travel and educational experiences. I’ve seen so many options here I don’t even know where to start.” Nadean Meredith of Commercial Bank in Middlesboro, Kentucky, is a longtime veteran of the bank travel business. “I’ve done this work for 50 years but still want new ideas,” she said. “We want to go somewhere domestically that we haven’t been to before.” Steve Faber of the Salem Memorial Building travel group in Salem, Ohio, said, “I’ve got a senior-citizen client base. We want day trips, then two-night, three-day trips and expand to even longer ones. We want to secure our travel base, let them know we’re still around and doing what we’ve always done.” “I want diverse travel,” said Leslie Jerden of Truity Credit Union in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. “We host large groups where everything is provided, but I want to plan my own motorcoach tours. I know I can sell high-dollar trips, but we also need budget-friendly ones.” Travel buyers also participated in an issue-oriented breakout session. “We talked about whether group travel has a solid fu-

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Cheers, Charlie and Cristoph!

ture,” said Donna Ringey of Mercy Clinic Seniors in Springfield, Missouri. “As travelers age, the younger generation might not be as interested in group travel. That’s somewhat of an unknown. I also got some good best-practice ideas from the breakout.” Betty Snitchler from Grownup Getaways in Dixon, Illinois, was on the lookout for travel trends. “Groups seem to be smaller for overnight trips,” she said. “I heard popular domestic trips include New York at Christmas, New England in the fall and unusual ones like the Calgary Stampede and Wyoming State Rodeo.”





Worldwide appointments took place.



ore than a dozen tour company partners presented travel information to delegates. Among them was Richard Arnold of Atlantic Tours. “There are many unique things that only happen in our region of Canada,” he said. “Please think of us when you want something a little different.” Jim Warren of Anderson Vacations promoted luxury rail adventures. “We crafted great itineraries around this great product and created unique things for these two-nation rail vacation adventures.” Cruising brought Kristin Karst of AmaWaterways to the conference. “River cruising touches your heart,” she said. “You are on a floating boutique hotel. You meet the locals and eat the foods of the region. You have the luxury of time on cruises because you unpack just once.” Bob Cline of U.S. Tours announced he had purchased East Coast Touring Company and revealed a new program. “We’re introducing Select World Travel, a collection of the world’s greatest tour companies,” he said. “We’re making larger investments in your delegates and your marketplaces.” Familiar face Jim Edwards of Collette brought many travel ideas. “Traveling with Collette comes with benefits that take the travel experience to a new level,” he said. “Our tours offer more for the money. Our knowledge and buying power allows us to pass savings to you. We’re the most experienced travel company in North America and the third oldest in the world.” Charming Sobhana Sucharitakul of the Tourism Authority of Thailand promoted exotic travel. “Chiang Mai was selected by Travel + Leisure as the ‘Best City in Asia,’” he said. “Sites in Bangkok have been voted best landmarks by Trip Advisor’s Travelers’ Choice Awards. There are so many things to do and see.” Brian Doughty of Trips promoted the 2020 Oberammergau Passion Play, an event that takes place every 10 years in Germany.


Let’s go there!

“We’d love to share this great trip with you,” he said. “So if you want to go with us, we’re here for you.” Diane Wilhelm of the Globus Family of Brands in Littleton, Colorado, had travel ideas. “We take great pride in our 90 years of escorted tours,” she said. “We’re one of the largest in the world. The best thing that can happen with your travelers is if they get home and say, ‘Where are we going next?’” The travel industry was well represented by diverse cities, states and attractions. For example, Jennifer Andruzzi of White Mountain Hotel in North Conway, New Hampshire, found an untapped source of younger travelers. “I want to make new contacts and get younger groups to try us, like boomers,” she said. “A lot of my group members are between 70 and 90.” Mary Lynn Hegdahl of Royal Gorge Route Railroad in Canon City, Colorado, came to the conference for increased exposure. “I want people to know about our train, and [I want to] strengthen old relationships and build new ones, and move ahead with more business,” she said. Tyrisha Battle of the Holly Springs, Mississippi, Tourism Recreation Bureau said, “My goal is to secure folks who want [to see] the great state of Mississippi and our small town 30 miles from Memphis. They’ll feel loved and welcomed and can enjoy Civil War and African-American history. We have 25 antebellum homes standing.” Beth Mead of the Columbia, Missouri, Convention and Visitors Bureau, was there to promote her hub-and-spoke destination. “Columbia is centrally located in Missouri and shares proximity to five or six really neat communities. We sell ourselves as a regional destination where you can have many convenient experiences.” “We’re the best tour operator no one has heard of,” said Mark House of InterTrav in St. Charles, Illinois. “For 52 years we’ve done the behind-the-scenes work. We don’t buy from anyone; everything we do is customized. We simply ask every client, ‘What are your goals?’”

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Ideas spring from breakout sessions.

EXPERIENCE A… ukulele-playing,

candy-crunching, I’m sold!

wine-tasting, fossil-finding, fire-fighting, murder-solving,

SEE YOU NEXT YEAR! The 2019 Select Traveler Conference will be held February 10-12 in French Lick, Indiana. “French Lick Resort is a historic property, and we felt that Select Traveler’s market is a great group to bring there, not only to see the resort but that part of Indiana,” said Joe Vezzoso with French Lick Resort. “People will be really surprised at what’s there. We’re on 3,500 acres and have two magnificent properties dating back to 1845. They were completely restored 10 years ago. We’ve taken what was here in the past and reinvented it.”


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Bartending referees




ark Lindquist, a motivational speaker and entertainer, told his unusual life story about being born in Korea and adopted and brought to America. Lindquist offered eight tips for a happier life. No. 1: Try something new. “Try a bunch of stuff,” he said. “Key word: try. How do you know you don’t like ‘the thing’ if you haven’t even tried it? Maybe you haven’t gotten out of your comfort zone.” He also suggested that people find what they most enjoy, learn their strengths and their passions, and know that everything is possible. Steve Haffner, a speaker and a mentalist, suggested that audience members check their impulses, and not let likes and dislikes affect unrelated decisions. Also, curb fear, default negativity, and be positive. “Ladies and gentlemen, your brains are being hacked, and it’s an inside job,” Haffner said with a chuckle. “There is a conniving and deceitful creature in your brains that works tirelessly 24/7 to make you do what it wants. Resist it.” The Greater Louisville CVB threw a fun Super Bowl party at downtown’s Fourth Street Live! Jennifer Riddell of the Kentucky Derby Museum in Louisville loved it. “It was a great turnout,” she said. “Everyone had a good time. I think using the Super Bowl as the kickoff was a great idea and allowed everyone to come together and be casual.” Betty Cissell with the Belle of Louisville Riverboat noticed that the crowd was really into the game. “There was good food and drinks flowing, yet people still got up the next morning for Marketplace all cheery and ready for the day,” she said. Other entertainment included a circus-themed dinner that featured a ringmaster, spectacular aerialists, a contortionist and a juggler. Two Louisville-area bands got the delegates out on the dance floor after dinner. Entertainment also included a 50th-anniversary tribute to Woodstock with a pair of talented “hippies” singing and playing songs by Janis Joplin and Grace Slick, as well as a toe-tapping German polka band that oversaw a messy beer-mug competition. Another highlight was a performance by 17-year-old Tristan McIntosh, an “American Idol” contestant many fans of the show remembered. Timothy Moulder of Brilliant Adventures in St. Simons Island, Georgia, was impressed. “We always get top-notch entertainment — in fact, nationally recognized entertainment,” he said. “They cover all ages at Select Traveler, something for everybody.”


Collette luncheon

Woodstock redux

Can we afford it?

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How much?

Mark Lindquist Cash to burn Let’s cruise. A star is born.

Under the big top

I’ll pour. I’ve got a bid!


Renewing friendships

Globus luncheon

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SPONSORS LOUISVILLE CVB Opening Dinner EAST COAST TOURING Breakfast – Day One TRIPS Breakfast – Day Two COLLETTE VACATIONS Luncheon – Day One GLOBUS FAMILY OF BRANDS Luncheon – Day Two FRENCH LICK RESORT Dinner – Day Two Conference Padfolio TOURISM AUTHORITY OF THAILAND Icebreaker Reception Presentation Time EXPERIENCE PARK TOURS Buyer Breakouts ISRAEL TOURISM Marketplace Sessions ISLANDS IN THE SUN CRUISES & TOURS Super Session GO AHEAD TOURS Seminar Delegate Registry Advertisement Floor Graphics A & S SIGNATURE JOURNEYS Marketplace Drape STEP AND REPEAT Media Backdrop ANDERSON VACATIONS Delegate Orientation EUREKA SPRINGS ADVER./ PROMOTION COMM. Destination Showcase GO NEXT Destination Showcase CHEROKEE NATION CULTURAL TOURISM Hotel Key Cards GRAND CIRCLE/ OVERSEAS ADVENTURE TRAVEL Marketplace Kickoff One STAR DESTINATIONS Marketplace Kickoff Two U.S. TOURS Name Badges


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Cast a spell over your group with a different kind of art show—the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular. Every night, this ¼ mile walking trail is illuminated by over 5,000 intricately, hand-carved pumpkins. Discover why the American Bus Association named it one of the top 100 events in North America. Learn more about booking a trip to Louisville’s most artful experiences at

Louisville is proud to host the 2019 ABA Annual Meeting and Marketplace and the 2018 Select Traveler Conference.


• Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular October 2018 •


SHOWING View of U.S. Capitol from the Museum of the Bible

Courtesy Museum of the Bible

“The Columbus Suite” exhibition by Carl Beam


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Courtesy Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto Canada

these five museums deserve a fresh look BY RACHEL CARTER


atch as rusty neon signs with broken bulbs spring back to lighted life after the sun goes down in Las Vegas. Explore a century-old industrial building that has been transformed into a home for contemporary art in Toronto. Appreciate art and then create it in one of nine studios at a new arts center in Kansas. These museums that collect historic objects, ancient artifacts and contemporary art are moving into the future with new buildings, major expansions and innovative experiences.


Anyone who has been to the Neon Museum’s Boneyard in Las Vegas understands the desire to see the rusty, defunct, behemoth neon casino signs ablaze once again. Now they can. Brilliant! is the museum’s expansion and new experience that opened in February. A year earlier, artist Craig Winslow reached out to the museum after stopping in Vegas during a road trip. He had been projecting re-creations of worn “ghost” signs on the sides of buildings and wanted to try projection mapping on old neon signs. For his first attempt, “he had one little laptop and one little projector, and it was amazing because you would have sworn that thing had been restored,” said Dawn Merritt, the museum’s public relations and marketing director. “It was red, the lights were flickering and scintillating. But, in fact, it was rusted, and the bulbs were broken.” Using eight projectors in two 20-foot towers, Brilliant! applies the technology to 40 signs in what was an underused, 8,000-square-foot lot adjacent to the Boneyard. The timed nighttime tours surround visitors in a 3-D experience with music, lights and video. The experience starts with the heart in the middle of the Lady Luck sign pulsing to life as Frank Sinatra’s “Luck Be a Lady” plays. Then lights start flickering and sparkling and twinkling as iconic signs, including the Golden Nugget, “become whole again.” Historic footage of Freemont Street is projected onto the letters S, T, A and R from the Stardust sign. “Strangers in the Night” begins to play as an image of Liberace appears at a piano-shaped neon sign, complete with candelabra. So many people who visit the Boneyard say the museum should restore more signs, which is both expensive and counter to the museum’s mission of collecting and preserving, Merritt said.

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“We like having the aged signs, and now, being able to magically make it come back to life, you get both worlds,” Merritt said. WWW.NEONMUSEUM.ORG



The Mary R. Koch Arts Center, also known as Mark Arts, opened its new $19 million building in Wichita, Kansas, to the public in January, but the organization has been around for nearly 100 years. Originally founded as the Wichita Art Association in 1920 Mark Arts is officially an art center rather than an art museum, and “education is the focus of what we do,” said Laura Roddy, Mark Arts development and marketing director. “We want to have a lot of opportunities for people to appreciate and create art.” The new building has nine art studios where visitors, including groups, can take all sorts of classes. Of those, one is dedicated for children’s use, one is a digital arts studio and another is a culinary arts studio. The center can arrange painting, clay-sculpting or jewelry-making classes for groups. In the culinary studio, a group can do a wine-pairing class, or an island can be wheeled out from the demonstration kitchen into the education commons for events for up to 80 people, using cameras and screens so the group can follow along. The 5,000-square-foot Wiedemann Gallery “is the jewel of the building,” Roddy said, where the juried Abstract National Exhibition will be on display April 13 to July 7. The gallery will have about four shows per year, and other spaces throughout the center, such as the School of Creativity commons area, will also host exhibits and rotate displays. The center collects and displays artwork and has an impressive collection, but it’s meant to be a study collection, Roddy said. Groups can opt to have boxed lunches or buffets in the Great Hall event venue or on one of two outdoor terraces that have access to the sculpture garden. WWW.MARKARTSKS.COM


The Tacoma Art Museum (TAM) in Tacoma, Washington, is growing again with the addition of the Benaroya Wing. Construction on the 6,860-square-foot wing is slated to be complete later this year and will open to the public in January 2019.


Neon Museum

Courtesy Vox Solid Communications

“It’s a major addition for our public and for our visitors,” said Rock Hushka, deputy director and chief curator. “The key part is it helps the Tacoma Art Museum more fully tell the story of Northwest art in the late 20th century and early 21st century.” About 4,550 square feet of the expansion will be gallery space, increasing the museum’s current gallery space by a quarter. Galleries will house the collection that Becky Benaroya and her late husband, Jack, assembled during their 70-year marriage and bequeathed to the museum, along with funds to build the new wing. The collection includes 225 works of Northwestern and international studio art glass as well as important paintings and sculptures by regional artists. The Benaroyas were influential patrons of the renowned Pilchuck Glass School north of Seattle, and “what the Benaroya collection brings to us is these iconic pieces by masters in the studio art glass movement,” Hushka said. TAM’s permanent collection is already nearly 25 percent glass art and includes the Dale Chihuly retrospective collection; the Anne Gould Hauberg collection, 151 pieces donated by Hauberg, one of the founders of Pilchuck; and the Paul Marioni glass collection, which includes nearly 400 artworks. The five Haub Family Galleries focus on Western American art and the people of the West, including the Pacific Northwest. Groups can arrange docent-led tours and boxed lunches, and TAM is revamping its programming to provide more experiences for visitors. WWW.TACOMAARTMUSEUM.ORG


The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Toronto has been without a home since closing its final exhibition at its Queen Street location in August 2015. On May 26, MOCA will reopen to the public with nearly five times more space with a free-admission weekend filled with activities. MOCA will occupy the first five floors, a total of 55,000 square feet, of the 10-story 1919 Tower Automotive Building. The ground floor is open to the public free of charge and will include an entrance lobby with interactive art pieces, a museum store, a cafe and space for public programming. “We want people to come and dwell and spend time with us,” said November Paynter, MOCA’s director of programs. The second and third floors are dedicated exhibition spaces. MOCA partnered with Akin to provide more than 20 affordable artist studios to local artists on the fourth floor, which will also have a larger studio


space for additional programming. The fifth floor will house MOCA offices and event space. Artists will likely host open studios at points throughout the year, and MOCA will be running various talks, workshops and screenings in its program spaces, both on the ground floor and on the studio level. MOCA will open with “Believe,” its inaugural exhibition featuring 16 local, Canadian and international artists. Artists include Jeneen Frei Njootli, a Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation artist who taps traditional materials and techniques from her ancestry in her work. Los Angelesbased artist Barbara Kruger is working on a site-specific technological installation on the third floor. Artist Nep Sidhu from Toronto will be showing a number of new works and is creating an immersive performance piece for opening weekend, Paynter said. WWW.MUSEUMOFCONTEMPORARYART.CA


The Museum of the Bible opened in November with much fanfare and sits just two blocks from the National Mall and three blocks from the U.S. Capitol in Washington. The $500 million museum is the creation of Steve and Jackie Green, owners of Hobby Lobby craft stores, and the 430,000-square-foot building houses more than 3,000 artifacts from biblical times to modern day. About 2,000 of those items are on loan to the museum from more than 40 other institutions and collections, including the Israel Antiquities Authority. While exploring various galleries on the museum’s six floors, guests will see fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls, a first-edition King James Bible and a page from the Gutenberg Bible, which marked the start of mass printing as the first major book to be printed using movable metal type. Exhibits explore the Old and New Testaments, the Bible in America and the Bible around the world. In the Bible Now gallery, guests will see real-time, live-feed Bible-related data such as digital readership and breaking news in a 360-degree digital display. Visitors can learn about the context and culture of Jesus’ teaching in the “World of Jesus of Nazareth” exhibit. In the Galilee Theater, groups can watch the conflict between Herod Antipas and John the Baptist, and in the New Testament Theater, early Christians tell about how Jesus’ followers became a new religious community. Visitors can also shop in the museum store, explore the Biblical Gardens and dine at the Milk and Honey Café or the Manna Restaurant. WWW.MUSEUMOFTHEBIBLE.ORG

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Two weeks to remember IT MAY BE TIME TO CRUISE IN NEW ZEALAND Fiordland National Park All photos by Bob Hoelscher, except where noted



xperienced travelers have long recognized New Zealand, also known as Aotearoa in the Maori language, as one of the most beautiful countries in the world. On a 13-night cruise aboard Holland America’s Maasdam this past January, which included visits to eight different New Zealand destinations, my frequent traveling companion “Di” Varnell and I also found the people we encountered in this vacation paradise are some of the most friendly and welcoming folks imaginable. With the added attractions of three Australian ports and a vessel ideal for the itinerary, this sailing proved to be one of the most memorable I’ve experienced recently and highly recommendable to groups that have already cruised closer to home in the Americas, Europe and Hawaii.


Since Maasdam was scheduled to sail from Auckland, New Zealand, we arrived a couple of days early so we could explore this fascinating city in depth. As is the case in many great cities worldwide, a two-day hop-on/hop-off bus tour proved to an ideal introduction to the area’s numerous attractions. Among the sights we particularly enjoyed were the waterfront area; the impressive (Anglican) Holy Trinity Cathedral; the excellent Auckland Memorial War Museum; Parnell Village; the Museum of Transport and Technology; the charming community of Devonport, reached by harbor ferry; and an

evening visit to the Auckland Sky Tower. One of the most interesting aspects of visiting New Zealand is witnessing the tremendous respect paid to the Maori, the indigenous people who landed here from Polynesia in prehistoric times. Initial conflicts resulting from the arrival of white explorers and settlers beginning in the late 1700s ultimately resulted in the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi between the British Crown and the Maori chiefs. Armed conflict broke out during the early 1860s, after which most Maori land was lost to European colonization. Today, however, the nation’s story cannot be told without recounting the countless contributions of the Maori and their unique culture, values and traditions to the development of modern New Zealand. Visitors will find countless bilingual signs here, in both English and the Maori language.


Departing Auckland, our first port of call was Tauranga, where we explored the downtown shops before embarking on a trip to Rotorua and the extensive Te Puia park, which features extensive geothermal features and the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute. Here we viewed the eruption of the famed Pohutu geyser, the largest in the Southern Hemisphere and the country’s most active, before continuing on to see the colorful Government Gardens nearby. Our next stop was at Napier, known for its spectacular collection of Art Deco

Opposite page: New Zealand honors its indigenous culture through the preservation of artifacts like this Maori sculpture.


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By Ruth Black

The Giant’s House

Pohutu Geyser

buildings, all built during the mid-1930s after a devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake leveled the town in 1931. The lovely, cosmopolitan capital city of Wellington followed next on our itinerary. Here, our guided tour included the Museum of New Zealand, the bustling waterfront area, government buildings, Old St. Paul’s Church, a ride on the Wellington Cable Car, the beautiful Botanic Garden and panoramas from Mount Victoria. Fifth on our exploration of coastal New Zealand was the picturesque resort community of Akaroa, originally settled by French immigrants. Here, Di took an organized local tour, while I spent a day just wandering around to see and photograph the sights, which included the Akaroa Head Lighthouse, the Garden of Tane, historic cottages and St. Peter’s Church. Both of us managed to visit the Giant’s House, the creation of artist Josie Martin, who describes it as a “sculpture and mosaic garden, and contemporary art gallery,” which hardly does the place justice. All I can say is that it is one of the most bizarre attractions I’ve ever seen in 48 years of being a professional tourist, so don’t even think about missing it if you find yourself in Akaroa.



A guided walk at Ackers Point


Our next stop was the town of Port Chalmers, about a half-hour from the city of Dunedin. Here, Di found an onshore small-group excursion that featured the area’s flora and fauna, which she loved. I opted for a more standardized city tour, which made stops at the ornate Dunedin Railway Station, the Edwardian-era Olveston Historic Home and the expansive Dunedin Botanic Garden. Nearby also is a Cadbury Chocolate Factory, which I understand is scheduled for closure soon. Oban, on Stewart Island, which was our final port stop in New Zealand, is yet another quaint seaside town. Di and I together embarked on a most enjoyable hiking tour from Harrold Bay out to “land’s end” at Ackers Point, at the entrance to Halfmoon Bay. Although we had experienced pleasant weather for most of the trip, the best was yet to come, with glorious blue skies and bright sunshine greeting our full day of cruising through Fjordland National Park. This magnificent natural treasure encompasses three separate areas: Dusky Sound, Doubtful Sound and, finally, Milford Sound, world-renowned for its incredible ocean fjords, comparable in some

Wellington Botanic Garden

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overview MAASDAM


aasdam is among Holland America Line’s smallest and most well-traveled ships, having entered service in late 1993. Please, however, do not assume that the ship’s age must be evident or that it looks old and worn, as nothing could be further from the truth. This splendidly maintained ship is in fine shape due to continuous maintenance attention through the years. At roughly 55,500 tons, with a normal passenger capacity of about 1,250, this vessel offers a relaxed, spacious environment seldom found these days except on smaller luxury ships, as well as excellent service, dining, onboard entertainment and activities. From September 2018 through September 2019, Maasdam will operate a new series of 16 exotic itineraries, mostly two to three weeks long. A choice of six different themes will be offered for in-depth exploration of the peoples, places and cultures to be visited: photography; food, wine and spirits; active exploration; nature and science; history and perspective; and arts and culture. Destinations include South America, the South and North Pacific, the East Indies and Indian Ocean, Polynesia, Alaska and Japan. Even small Zodiac boats will be added to Maasdam’s equipment to facilitate “close-in” shore exploration.

Ackers Point

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Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney Opera House

respects to the equally impressive fjords of Norway. Photographers like me had a field day capturing images of the awe-inspiring scenery that we passed throughout our visit. Then, two days crossing the Tasmanian Sea brought us to our first Australian port: Burnie, Tasmania.


Burnie, on Australia’s northern coast, was the gateway to our fullday tour to splendid Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park, the central feature of which is 1,545-meter Cradle Mountain, which we viewed from the shores of Dove Lake and where we also walked through the rain forest to Pencil Pine Falls. Along the way, we viewed lush agricultural areas, the numerous murals of Sheffield and coastal resort communities. The following day we reached Melbourne. Di was most pleased with her hop-on/hop-off tour of the city, but having explored Melbourne extensively on a previous occasion, I chose a shore excursion that featured a rail trip on the famed Puffing Billy steam train as well as a visit to the magnificent Mountain Ash forests of Dandenong Ranges National Park. After another day at sea, our cruise concluded in Sydney, one of the world’s most interesting and photogenic cities, known for the iconic Sydney Opera House and nearby Harbour Bridge. We had planned a two-night hotel stay here before continuing to Singapore. Di, who had not visited Sydney before, again chose a hop-on/hop-off double-decker bus excursion, while I wandered around for additional photography; then we met late afternoon for a ferry trip through the harbor to Rose Bay and a tasty dinner.


It was a fine trip, but don’t just take my word for it. Ken and Jean from Bothwell, Scotland, said, “We thought the itinerary was magnificent. The Holland America staff always does a wonderful job, and we particularly loved Napier.” Gary and Ginny from Kansas City “love Holland America … This was our fifth HAL cruise and the farthest we’ve ever been from home … It wasn’t anything like we thought it would be, but it far surpassed our expectations.” Tony from Temecula, California, said, “The trip was great … and everything was excellent.” Christian from Santa Barbara, California, “likes a smaller ship because they are more intimate. What’s not to like?” Sue from Tauranga was “on her 11th cruise but the first time on HAL. We’ve done a lot of long cruises, but we were very happy, and service was excellent.” Richie from Rockville, Maryland, found that the “ports were fabulous. We’ve done several dozen cruises as well as land tours, and these were our 94th and 95th countries. It was definitely worth the two years we spent planning the trip, and we really enjoyed learning about the Maori culture.” And from Alec and Sue from Savannah: “It was wonderful, everything was just great.” I couldn’t find anyone who was unhappy.



o f




rom first fliers to football phenoms, greatness is on display in cities throughout Ohio. Journeying across Ohio from west to east, your group will uncover national and local history in museums and well-preserved villages. In Dayton, where the Wright Brothers first imagined flight, the city’s riverfront makes a great place to unwind. In Columbus, the neighborhoods along High Street range from the historic German Village to the eclectic Short North Arts District and Clintonville, where groups can bake artesian breads. Castlelike and ghostly, Mansfield’s Ohio State Reformatory has been the site of five movies, among them “The Shawshank Redemption.” Farther east, Canton boasts the Pro Football Hall of Fame and a surprising number of museums. Cruises step back in time on the Ohio and Erie Canal, and the Gervasi Vineyard offers upscale lodging, tours and culinary classes.


“Mona Lisa” street mural


Though their famous first flight took place in North Carolina, the Wright brothers engineered their flying machines at their workshop in what is now the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park. Groups can start at the Wright-Dunbar interpretative center. Nearby, the Wright Cycle Company building and Hoover Block commemorate where Wilbur and Orville Wright operated their businesses. At Huffman Prairie Flying Field, the Wrights tested their planes in 1904 and 1905; a replica of their hangar and catapult are on-site. One mile away, the Wright Brothers Aviation Center displays their 1905 Wright Flyer III. On May 17, a permanent exhibit opens at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. On display will be the restored B-17F Memphis Belle, the first heavy bomber to return to


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Dayton Aviation Heritage NHP Courtesy Dayton CVB

Courtesy Experience Columbus

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the states after completing 25 missions over Europe during World War II. Special events will be held opening weekend. The world’s oldest and largest military aviation museum and the state’s largest free attraction, the museum has indoor and outdoor exhibits that showcase more than 360 aerospace vehicles and missiles, from early flight thorough the space age. Exhibits include the presidential plane that transported President John F. Kennedy’s body from Dallas and where President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in, as well as NASA’s first crew compartment trainer. Also on-site are an interactive flight simulator, a virtual-reality simulator, an Imax theater and the National Aviation Hall of Fame. “Dayton is the birthplace of aviation and home to WrightPatterson Air Force Base,” said Jacquelyn Powell, president and CEO of the Dayton Convention

and Visitors Bureau. “We see ourselves as the past, present and future of aerospace technology.” Along the Great Miami River in downtown Dayton’s RiverScape MetroPark, visitors can ride paved trails or simply stroll among reflection pools and flower-filled gardens. The area is a hub for festivals such as the Dayton Celtic Festival, held in July, and the 35th annual Germanfest Picnic in August. Other noteworthy festivals around town include the Vectren Dayton Air Show, the Dayton Art Institute’s Oktoberfest and the Wagner Subaru Outdoor Experience for outdoor enthusiasts.


Quaint German Village, located south of downtown Columbus, looks much as it did 100 years ago. Brick cottages sit on limestone foundations graced


by window boxes and slate roofs. At the Meeting House, groups can watch an eightminute video that recounts the village’s history before departing on a guided walking or motorcoach tour. For lunch or dinner, Schmidt’s Sausage Haus and Restaurant serves German fare in a boisterous atmosphere, and upscale Lindey’s offers fine dining. Groups won’t want to miss the Book Loft, the nation’s largest independent bookstore, which sells thousands of volumes displayed in 32 themed rooms. No two shops are alike in the hip and artistic Short North Arts District, which also boasts some of the city’s best art galleries and coffee shops. The Pizzuti Collection, housed in the architecturally rich Traveler’s Insurance Company building, displays the personal collection of a local art aficionado and offers rotating exhibits, artist talks and special events. At the Candle Lab, groups pick out scents and make candles for a fun make-and-take experience. Farther north, Clintonville began when land grants were given to Continental Army soldiers in lieu of pensions. Today, Flours and Bread offers private group dining and year-round classes. In its floral studio, an instructor walks participants though building bouquets. Group can also gather around the wood-fired oven to make dough and top pizzas, or take part in crafting doughnuts and artisanal breads. “Like a string of pearls along High Street, the motorcoach can start at German village, drive through downtown and end in Clintonville for a full day,” said Experience Columbus spokesperson Amy Weirick.


Ohio State Reformatory Courtesy Destination Mansfield

Flowers and Bread cafe

Courtesy Experience Columbus

Flowers and Bread flower arranging class


Courtesy Experience Columbus


Ohio State Reformatory tour

An hour north of Columbus, tours highlight unique features of the castlelike Ohio State Reformatory, a former prison made famous as a filming location in “The Shawshank Redemption” and other Hollywood movies. Built in 1886, it’s said to be haunted. Along the Shawshank Trail, step-on guides take travelers to 14 other filming sites. “The Reformatory tour takes groups behind-the-scenes, where they see movie props and hear stories that the general public isn’t going to hear,” said Jodie Snavely, group tour/media director for Destination Mansfield. “Several miles away, downtown’s Richland Carrousel Park makes a fun stop, and local shops sell Shawshank-inspired souvenirs, pizza and even wine.” Malabar Farm, where Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall married and honeymooned, was the site of the opening scene of Shawshank. Tour the Big House and hear about its owner, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Louie Bromfield and the movie stars who stayed there, among them Shirley Temple and James Cagney. Visitors can explore some of the 900 acres on tractor-drawn wagon rides. In late September, Ohio Heritage Days features food, crafts, live music and a Civil War living-history camp.

Courtesy Destination Mansfield

Most recognized among Canton’s numerous museums, the Pro Football Hall of Fame showcases all things NFL. Groups can watch replays of the Super Bowl and see the new Hunt/Casterline Pro Football Hall of Fame Card Collection. The NFL Hall of Fame Game, played in early August, is part of the ticketed enshrinement week. Also opening that week will

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Ring Up Some Great Times in DAYTON,


DID YOU KNOW? The Cash Register was invented in DAYTON!

You can BANK on your group having a fantastic time in Dayton! See over 50 original NCR Cash Registers at Carillon Historical Park.

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Contact Teena Sheffler, Dayton CVB Sales Manager today for customized tour itineraries, information on group tour incentives, complimentary assistance! or 937.226.8292


the Piazza for outdoor dining. be the Paul Brown Museum, On-site, the Villas, AAA Four filled with football memorabilia. Diamond accommodations, feaThe Maps Air Museum, feaPro Football Hall of Fame ture fireplaces and lake views. tures 47 types of aircraft, from Scheduled to be completed in the one-of-a-kind 1908 Martin early 2019, the 24-suite luxury Glider to an F-16 Fighting Falboutique hotel will feature heatcon, and numerous artifacts ed floors, fireplaces, a delivered and interactive exhibits. Last gourmet continental breakfast summer, the museum unveiled and in-room spa treatments. its Ohio Military Museum, which honors more than 60 Ohio heroes and displays their memorabilia, uniforms and equipment. The Canton Classic The 86-mile Ohio and Erie CaCar Museum, in a 1914 Ford nal Towpath Trail connects Lake dealership, exhibits more than Erie in Cleveland to New Phila45 antique and collectible cars. Courtesy Canton/Stark County CVB delphia, approximately 20 miles The McKinley Presidential Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge south of Canton. Near Canton, Library and Museum preserves the Canal Fulton Canalway Centhe history surrounding Wilter presents the film “Our Canal liam McKinley’s presidency Zoar Village Heritage,” a good introduction and assassination. In a separate to a canal boat ride. The replicatwing, there’s an interactive scied St. Helena III, boat pulled by ence center and planetarium. two Percheron horses, departs Within the library, tours of the from St. Helena Heritage Park National First Ladies Library for one-hour cruises narrated by and Museum highlight the first an onboard historian. Themed ladies’ dresses and teacups, as cruises and private group charwell as Ida McKinley’s home. ters are available. The domed William McKinley South of Canton on InterMonument is the final resting state 77, Zoar Village was foundplace of the 25th U.S. president ed in 1817 when 200 German and his family. Separatists built their homes “Groups will also want to along the banks of the Tuscaravisit the Canton Museum of was River. Zoar, translated as Art and the Massillon Mu“a sanctuary from evil,” became seum, which combines art and a refuge for religious freedom. history,” said Tonja Marshall, The Separatists dug part of the vice president of marketing Ohio and Erie Canal by hand, and communications for Visit which helped pay for their land. Canton. “And they can extend Today, the historic district that experience by viewing features shops, bed-and-breakpublic art and visiting galleries fasts, restaurants and 12 rethroughout the Canton Arts stored living-history museums. District.” The three-acre formal garden is Built around a state-of-thethe village showpiece. Lantern art winery, the Tuscan-inspired ghost tours and Heimatfest take Gervasi Vineyard bottles more place in October and Christmas than 20 varieties of wine, intours in December. cluding several estate wines. “Our knowledgeable tour The owners reinvented Canton’s Courtesy Andy Donaldson Photography guides talk about how the peolast remaining working farm, ple lived and produced their which dates to the early 19th products as groups explore the century and lies within the city village,” said Julie Levengood-Stephon, group limits. Classes at the Culinary and Wine EducaTo u r i s m Oh i o tour manager at the Tuscarawas County Contion Center offer the chance to create a meal and vention and Visitors Bureau. “And the groupdine in class. Winery tours can be bookended by WWW.OHIO.ORG friendly Canal Tavern of Zoar serves German lunch or a tasting. Restaurants include the Bisfare in an Old World atmosphere.” tro, the Crush House Wine Bar and Eatery, and



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THE PICTURESQUE HISTORIC DISTRICT often gets much of the attention in Savannah, Georgia, but just blocks away is another famous stretch of the city: the Savannah River front. River Street runs along the riverbanks for about a mile, and along the street, visitors will find nearly 100 shops and restaurants, mostly local and independent businesses, in historic converted warehouses, many with wood beams, exposed brickwork and original hardwood floors. “Most were cotton warehouses at the time,” said Mindy Shea, director of tour, travel and international sales for Visit Savannah. “They really give you a sense of place.” All the area’s open-air trolley tours take passengers to River Street, and a motorcoach drop-off about midway on the mile-long street is a good starting point for groups to explore, especially if they have free time, or lunch or dinner on their own. “They can be literally feet away from the Savannah River and see the ships going by,” Shea said. For rooftop dining, Rocks on the Roof at the Bohemian Hotel and Top Deck at the neighboring Cotton Sail Hotel have sweeping views of the Savannah River and the Talmadge Memorial Bridge. Savannah Riverboat Cruises offers sightseeing, sunset, and lunch or dinner cruises that run the length of River Street. Passengers can also hop on and off the city’s free water taxi as they take it across the river to take in views of downtown Savannah’s skyline, including the gold dome of city hall. WWW.VISITSAVANNAH.COM

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Courtesy Visit Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH DOESN’T HAVE ONE RIVERFRONT; it has three. The Allegheny and Monongahela rivers hug two sides of the triangle-shaped downtown known as the Golden Triangle and converge to form the Ohio River. The 36-acre Point State Park at the tip of the triangle offers visitors plenty of riverfront and is the site of many festivals and fireworks displays throughout the year. On the north bank of the Allegheny, PNC Park is home to the MLB Pittsburgh Pirates, and groups can either catch a baseball game or tour the stadium. A riverwalk leads to nearby parks, such as Allegheny Landing. Groups can rent kayaks to paddle alongside coal barges and pleasure craft on the rivers. “From that vantage point, the skyline is right there,” said Karl Pietrzak, vice president of convention sales for VisitPittsburgh. “It’s a pretty awesome view.” On the Monongahela, Station Square is a historic train-station complex that’s been transformed into an entertainment, shopping and dining district. From its Station Square dock, the Gateway Clipper Fleet riverboat offers year-round cruises and charters. Also based at Station Square, Just Ducky Tours includes a drive across the Roberto Clemente Bridge before splashing down into the river. Two of Pittsburgh’s historic inclines remain on the south bank of the Monongahela and Ohio rivers across from downtown Pittsburgh. WWW.VISITPITTSBURGH.COM





NORTHERN KENTUCKY By Joy Tengker, courtesy I Amsterdam

WHETHER ON THE HISTORIC SOUTH BANKS of the river IJ or across the water in the new North Amsterdam district, groups have plenty of ways to enjoy the water and the attractions that line its banks. NDSM Amsterdam is a former industrial ship wharf that’s been transformed into a creative community with cafes, clubs, restaurants and bars overlooking the IJ. The Eye Film Museum on the north bank explores the history of cinema and filmmaking and showcases various filmmakers. Just a few hundred feet away, Tolhuistuin is located on the former Shell site and is an eclectic arts and culture venue with a massive restaurant, three theater and concert halls, exhibition spaces and a sun terrace overlooking the IJ. On the south bank, the Nemo Science Museum is a massive boat-shaped building that juts onto the water. Inside, visitors will find interactive science exhibits, experiments and shows. Amsterdam is famous for its 17th-century canal system. Canal cruises are a favorite way to tour the city, and groups have their choice of tours, from romantic to wacky. De Pannenkoekenboot, i.e., the Pancake Boat, serves all-you-can-eat Dutch pancakes during cruises on the IJ. Many canal cruises also provide hop-on/hop-off access so passengers can visit various city attractions such as the Rijksmuseum, the Anne Frank House, the Royal Theatre Carré and the Heineken Experience. WWW.IAMSTERDAM.COM


Courtesy Northern Kentucky CVB

CINCINNATI, OHIO, gets a lot of name recognition, but its smaller neighbors in Kentucky, just across the Ohio River, have plenty of ways for groups to enjoy the river. BB Riverboats in Newport offers lunch, dinner and sightseeing cruises that are a great way for groups to see both the Kentucky and Ohio sides of the river, said Erin Hoebbel, group tour manager for meetNKY, the Northern Kentucky Convention and Visitors Bureau. Nearby, the Newport Aquarium has water views inside and out, and groups can also splash into the river during a Ride the Ducks tour. The Newport on the Levee shopping center sits next to the Purple People Bridge, an 1872 train bridge that today allows only pedestrian traffic, and where visitors can straddle the KentuckyOhio border. In Bellevue, the New Riff Distilling Company is preparing to release its first batch of bourbon this fall after four years of barrel aging. The distillery sits on the riverbanks, making it the northernmost stop of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour. Groups can take guided tours with a tasting at the end, and the distillery has a rooftop event space and terrace with a fire pit. At the base of the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge in Covington, the Roebling Murals are a series of 18 panels painted on the floodwall depicting the history of Covington from ancient times to the present day. Groups can view them up close on foot or from the water during a river cruise. WWW.MEETNKY.COM

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take your next tour somewhere



QUAD CITIES, IOWA/ILLINOIS Courtesy Quad Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau

THE QUAD CITIES REGION straddles the banks of the Mississippi River with Davenport and Bettendorf in Iowa, and Rock Island, Moline and East Moline in Illinois. “All the cities have been embracing the riverfront,” said Jessica Waytenick, public relations and marketing manager for the Quad Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau. And a seasonal open-air water taxi allows passengers to explore both sides of the river. On the Iowa side, downtown Davenport has a huge stretch of riverfront with hotels, restaurants and parks. The 512-room Isle Casino Hotel in Bettendorf built a new casino in 2016 that sits on the riverfront between its two hotel towers. On the Illinois side, the 800-passenger Celebration Belle Riverboat docks in Moline and offers narrated sightseeing tours, lunch and dinner cruises, and themed departures. Also in Moline, visitors can take kayaks and stand-up paddleboards out into Sylvan Slough, a small channel of the river that helps form Arsenal Island. On Arsenal Island, an active U.S. Army facility and popular tourist destination, the Mississippi River Visitors Center sits on a lock and dam, so guests can learn about the system as they “watch the barge traffic come through,” Waytenick said. Visitors can also tour the Rock Island Arsenal Museum and the 1833 Colonel Davenport House. In the city of Rock Island, the Quad City Botanical Center sits on the riverfront, and Schwiebert Park has a stage and lawn for concerts, a dock and an “urban concrete beach.”

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 Museum. From a new appreciation of our spirit at the Oklahoma City National Memorial 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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6/9/17 4:06 PM


from wildflowers to

FLIGHT Botanica Wichita

All photos courtesy Visit Wichita



o glance at Wichita, Kansas, today, you would never know that lawmen like Wyatt Earp once rode into town to keep the local cowboys under control. And you may not think of the city as a destination for prairies filled with colorful wildflowers, renowned art collections or unsurpassed aircraft production industries. Wichita’s Wild West history, natural beauty, art and aviation heritage are on display for visitors at the city’s numerous museums. The Old Cowtown Museum, for instance, helps visitors appreciate the city’s intriguing history as a bustling cattle-drive stop.


These museums do more than fill an hour or two; they authentically present various aspects of Wichita’s heritage for a better understanding of the Midwestern town. These four acclaimed Wichita museums will keep your travelers educated and entertained.


Listen to horses trotting down the street, blacksmiths clanging on metal and occasional gunfire as you walk through the Old Cowtown Museum. The living-history museum re-creates Wichita in 1865 with 54 historic and re-created buildings, costumed interpreters and an artifact collection of more than 12,000 items. Groups can walk down the dirt streets past period farm wagons, the City Marshal’s Office, the Southern Hotel and the General Store. Inside the city’s saloon, visitors can quench their thirst by sipping on sarsaparillas. “It provides an authentic Old West experience,” said Susie Santo,

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president and CEO of Visit Wichita. “You really get a flavor of what it was like for early settlers. It really stands out among other experiences in the country.” Pioneer trader Jesse Chisholm established a trading post at the site in the 1860s when he established what would become the famous cattle-drive route known as the Chisholm Trail. With the influx of cowboys came a revolving list of well-known lawmen such as Earp, hired to keep the rowdy group in line. The museum preserves this exciting time in Wichita’s history to tell the story of how Wichita transformed from a frontier settlement to a cattle town to an agricultural and manufacturing area. Established in 1952, the museum is one of the oldest open-air history museums in the central United States. Groups can schedule a guided tour, an educational program or wander the 23 acres on their own.


Stand still and breathe in the sweet fragrance of more than 120,000 daffodil bulbs each spring at Botanica Wichita. The botanical paradise brings the blooms of the region to the spotlight with 18 acres of landscaped gardens divided into more than 30 themed gardens and exhibits. Groups can gaze at native flora and other flowers suited to Wichita’s growing climate. Visual stunners abound in the garden yearround, with Kansas’ largest tulip display in spring, vibrant summer prairie wildflowers, more than 5,500 chrysanthemums in autumn and 12,000 pansies in winter. “For groups, it’s a unique and authentic experience,” said Santo. “They can go for a stroll and enjoy the spectacular garden.” Botanica Wichita first welcomed visitors in 1987 with four gardens and a horticultural library. The garden has since undergone many expansions, including the 2015 addition of the Chinese Garden of Friendship to celebrate the city’s relationship with its Chinese sister city, Kaifeng. One popular exhibit sits inside the 2,880-square-foot Butterfly House. Up to 50 species of butterflies fill the venue with flying color from June through September. Another favorite, the Cissy Wise Wildflower Meadow, showcases native wildflowers in a naturalistic prairie garden filled with spiderwort, penstemon and asters. Groups can tour solo or with a guide, for a more educational focus.


Take a step and then picture Howard Hughes lounging nearby. Take another step and imagine Amelia Earhart gearing up for her next flight. Or conjure images of Fred Astaire, Charles Lindbergh and Bob Hope waiting to take off. Groups inside the Kansas Aviation Museum can relive the 1935 building’s illustrious past as the last airport stop before crossing the Rocky Mountains. Because of Wichita’s key location as a refueling stop, the stars and pilots of the day all walked the former terminal’s terrazzo floors in what was known as the “Country Club without dues.” “It is incredible to be in the building where you know the legends of aviation once walked these floors,” said Santo. “We are known as the Air Capital of the World.” This designation came not just from the city’s time as a key terminal from 1935 to 1951 but also from the city’s later expansion as a hub of aviation manufacturing. Wichita has produced more aircraft than any other American city. During World War II, the city’s popu-

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lation boomed with military aircraft production workers. Wichita’s aircraft industry employment has remained high ever since. Tours allow groups to see biplanes, sports planes, crop dusters and business jets up close, as well as learn about their production. The museum regularly opens larger airplanes for interior viewing so visitors can see their cockpits. Hands-on opportunities also illustrate the aircrafts’ complexities with flight simulators and a mock control tower.


Visitors can walk over the twisted glass designed by Dale Chihuly on a clear glass bridge at the Wichita Art Museum. The museum features installations designed by American artists, part of the mission laid out when Louise Murdock created a trust for an art collection in honor of her husband, Roland, in 1915. Today, the collection includes works by Mary Cassatt, Arthur G. Grove and Winslow Homer. The building, expanded in 2004, now comprises 115,000 square feet; exhibits mainly feature American painters, potters, sculptors and textile weavers. Exhibits on Kansas artists are also a focus of the museum. “This is where you are going to see the local Kansas artists,” said Santo. “They also offer a group venue there where you can look at art while enjoying a reception.” Groups can also dine in the Muse Cafe for lunch or shop in the Museum Store. Docent-led tours deliver interesting background information about how the heritage of the Great Plains ties in with the broader development of American art. In 2015, the Art Garden opened to the public to revitalize the surrounding eight acres into an oasis of lush plantings and 13 outdoor sculptures.

Kansas Aviation Museum

Botanica Wichita’s Butterfly House

Old Cowtown Museum












ost of us can conjure a picture of the idyllic Southern small town. Maybe it involves sipping sweet tea on a veranda or walking through a historic downtown, or maybe we imagine interacting with locals eager to offer assistance.

Though the image is familiar, finding a quaint Southern town suitable for group tours can prove challenging. Groups want authenticity but also enough historic attractions to keep travelers interested. They want wellpreserved downtowns that can both cater to their group size and retain their small-town feel. These five charming Southern towns enchant groups of all sizes regularly with gorgeous architecture, interesting history, experiential attractions and passionate locals. Whether groups seek live oaks, antebellum homes, art havens or even gold, they will find all those and more at these distinctly Southern destinations.

Charming Southern towns like Dahlonega, Georgia, offer walkable downtowns with both beauty and plentiful activities.


Courtesy Georgia Dept. of Economic Development

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Between Charleston, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia, lies a quaint Southern town filled with unspoiled historic homes and mossdraped live oaks. Though not as widely known as those other two coastal towns, Beaufort, South Carolina, is the second-oldest city in the state. “We have all the history of Charleston and Savannah; we just don’t have the traffic,” said Robb Wells, vice president of tourism for the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce. “There is an authenticity here that everyone experiences. The person you stop on the street for directions will stop what they are doing [to] not only answer you but also share their favorite things to do. Everyone has that friendly demeanor.” Groups can explore the town’s interlocking streets lined with foliage and Civil War-era homes on walking tours, step-on guided tours and horse-drawn carriage rides. Each tour reveals compelling stories about some of Beaufort’s most revered buildings, such as the 1712 Parish Church of St. Helena and the Robert Smalls House, purchased by a former slave after valiantly fighting in the Civil War for Union forces. Groups treasure the historic stops, among them the Santa Elena History Center, the Beaufort History Museum and the Penn Center. The Penn Center exposes visitors to the town’s Gullah culture by chronicling a former college built after the Civil War to teach the newly freed Gullah people to support themselves. “We have a strong connection to the Gullah people,” said Wells. “Groups can learn about it in a number of ways, such as a concert, tour and Gullah restaurant to spice up what’s going on. We find that Gullah experiences resonate with groups very well.” MUST-SEE VIEW: From Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park, guests can gaze at historic buildings of downtown’s Bay Street on one side and the Beaufort River on the other. W W W . B E A U F O R T S C . O R G

Beaufort’s Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park Courtesy Beaufort Regional COC






While Henry Flagler, co-founder with John D. Rockefeller of the Standard Oil Company, was vacationing in St. Augustine, Florida, in 1883, he had a vision: He imagined the small town a winter resort of American high society. He then proceeded to erect ornate hotels in the Moorish Revival style. These distinctive 19th-century buildings helped turn the small town into an architectural marvel. Groups enjoy learning the stories behind each Flagler construction as well as about St. Augustine’s history as the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in the United States. The city still displays much of this history with Spanish Colonial attractions along the pedestrian-only St. George Street. “It’s a coastal city that is very quaint,” said Evelyn Vazquez, director of leisure sales for the St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra and the Beaches Visitor and Convention Bureau. “It is a very walkable destination. Buses can be parked on St. George Street while the group walks to shops, attractions and restaurants.” Groups can also explore the grand Flagler College; the living-history museum Colonial Quarters; and Castillo de San Marcos, the oldest masonry fort in the country. MUST-SEE VIEW: Onlookers can view the iconic Moorish Revival buildings of St. Augustine from above from the top of the 219step St. Augustine Lighthouse. WWW.F LO R I DASH I STO R I C C OA S T . C OM Barton Distillery

How does a place so small become the Bourbon Capital of the World®? Start with the second-oldest town in Kentucky, add a plethora of bourboninspired restaurants and shops, sprinkle with ten distilleries, and serve on a scenic countryside. Visit Bardstown — the small town with big escapes. | 800.638.4877

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Castillo de San Marcos

Courtesy St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra and the Beaches CVB

A historic home in Natchez Courtesy Visit Natchez

The people of Natchez, Mississippi, take their reputation for hospitality seriously, so seriously that many residents of historic antebellum mansions open their homes to the public for the Spring and Fall Pilgrimage Tours. These tours let guests explore the town’s high concentration of antebellum mansions, both those open to the public and those privately owned. “Without a doubt, our people make us unique,” said Jennifer Ogden Combs, executive director of the Natchez Convention Promotion Commission and Visit Natchez. “If we didn’t have our hospitable community who really believe in our history and culture, we would be just another cool, interesting town.” Groups love interacting with locals and touring the walkable downtown along the Mississippi River. The town also celebrates its music heritage at the Delta Music Museum and during the Natchez Festival of Music, which features live musical performances around the city throughout the month of May. The oldest settlement on the Mississippi River, Natchez has successfully preserved much of its history for groups to experience, including the Natchez African American History and Culture Museum. Also popular, the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians provides information about Natchez’s earliest residents with ceremonial mounds, a replica of an Indian dwelling and a museum. Over a dozen of the town’s antebellum homes lie open for tours year-round, among them Stanton Hall, Rosalie and Melrose. Each home features a distinct architectural style and fascinating stories about the owners, such as how Longwood stands incomplete due to Northern construction workers dropping their tools and taking off at the start of the Civil War. MUST-SEE VIEW: Guests can enjoy gorgeous sunset views of the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River from the Natchez City Cemetery. WWW.VISITNATCHEZ.ORG


Dahlonega, Georgia, is a small town of contrasts with both an old-fashioned architectural look and a hip, artistic side that some compare to that of Asheville, North Carolina. “We are about 40 percent Asheville and about 60 percent Mayberry,” said David Zunker, tourism director for the Dahlonega-Lumpkin County Chamber and Visitors Bureau. “We’re genuine and authentic. We’re very much a small town with an energy to it.” Visitors can peruse numerous art galleries, several with tasting rooms, since the area has the highest concentration of wineries, vineyards and tasting rooms in the state. Known as the Heart of Georgia Wine Country, the area’s mountain elevation creates excellent growing conditions for varieties of European and American wine grapes. Groups can also sample locally grown mead, with flavors such as blackberry, blueberry and honey. Dahlonega’s culinary options attract guests as well, with 15 local restaurants and two homemade-chocolate shops. Many of these tasty experiences take place on Dahlonega’s historic public square, which fea-


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tures public concerts, shaded brick sidewalks and shops inside 19th-century buildings. The National Main Street Center Inc. honored Dahlonega with the 2016 Great American Main Street Award to commemorate its lively city center. The town’s history as the site of the first gold rush in America also captivates visitors. The sentence “There’s gold in them thar hills” “is sometimes attributed to California,” said Zunker. “That was actually spoken in Dahlonega to try and convince the miners to stay in town. There is still gold here.” Groups can learn about the town’s gold rush at the Gold Museum, then try to pan for gold themselves at Crisson Gold Mine. MUST-SEE VIEW: Atop Crown Mountain, visitors can behold panoramas of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the gold steeple of Price Memorial Hall and Dahlonega’s 19th-century downtown. WWW.DAHLONEGA.ORG


Eureka Springs is a true original. This Victorian village on the slopes of the Ozark hills is a locally minded town with more than 100 independent shops and galleries. The downtown, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, welcomes groups to roam, shop and chat with local merchants. Restaurants also satisfy a range of tastes, from down-home Southern cuisine to Czech-German dishes and spicy East Indian fare. After a long day of touring and eating, Eureka Springs offers several relaxing options, such as pampering spas or a performance of optical illusions at the Intrigue Theater. To admire the architecture and discover more about this distinctive town, groups can take a tram, a carriage or a stepon guide tour. Groups also delight in exploring the surrounding Ozark Mountains on a steam train, on a two-hour zip-line tour or by hiking through a 500-acre wildlife refuge. Even the lodging opportunities in Eureka Springs stand out. There are locally owned hotels, cabins, and bed-and-breakfast establishments. The 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa remains one of the most popular lodging options. A member of the Historic Hotels of America, this Victorian hotel offers 15 wooded acres, the New Moon Spa and Salon, and the Crystal Dining Room. MUST-SEE VIEW: The Crescent Hotel sits perched above the city of Eureka Springs, and guests on the hotel’s outdoor deck can savor a drink while gazing at the surrounding Ozark Mountains. WWW.EUREKASPRINGS.ORG

EXHIBIT OPEN MAY 25, 2018 - FEBRUARY 14, 2021

Downtown Eureka Springs

Courtesy Eureka Springs CAPC

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#PressPlayRecord • @CountryMusicHOF • #Outlaws • Downtown Nashville












he world’s first modern cocktail — a drink made with spirits, bitters and sugar — was born in the South, so it is fair to say that mixology is a longtime Southern tradition. Each state boasts its own classic concoctions, from the Sazerac in New Orleans to the Alabama Slammer in Tusca-

loosa, and many of these drinks are tied to fascinating stories about the regions. For any travel group that enjoys cocktail tours or mixology classes, here are five signature cocktails to sample next time they journey south.

One way to sample Kentucky’s famous bourbon is by ordering a mint julep.

Courtesy Greater Louisville CVB







The mint julep may not have originated in Kentucky, but it has found its home in the Bluegrass State, where it presides as the official drink of the world-renowned Kentucky Derby. Over the course of Derby weekend in May, more than 120,000 mint juleps are served at the historic Churchill Downs racetrack in Louisville. The cool concoction consists of bourbon whiskey, fresh mint and sugar, and is typically served in a chilled silver cup and garnished with a sprig of mint leaves. “It has the perfect amount of sweet and refreshing mint to complement the bourbon,” said Jessica Dillree, marketing communications manager at the Greater Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It’s a great daytime cocktail.” Each year in April, Louisville leads up to Derby Day festivities with the celebration of Mint Julep Month, and many venues along the city’s Urban Bourbon Trail feature specialty mint julep products during these weeks. Of course, there is no better place to sample a mint julep than Churchill Downs, which partners with a local mint farmer to produce the cocktail by the gallons. Though not everyone can snag a ticket to the Kentucky Derby, there are many other events and races to attend throughout the year, such as Dawn at the Downs in early May and Downs after Dark during the summer. W W W . G O T O L O U I S V I L L E . C O M










More than one classic cocktail can trace its roots to the epicurean hub of New Orleans, but only one claims the title as the city’s official cocktail: the Sazerac. The cocktail emerged during the 1830s when a local apothecary named Antoine Amedie Peychaud began serving his friends and customers an original brandy toddy made with Sazerac cognac and his own special recipe of bitters. During the 1870s, the French cognac was replaced with American rye whiskey. “It’s interesting because it was influenced by all the different cultures that have called New Orleans home,” said Kristian Sonnier, vice president of public relations at the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau. One of the best places to try the cocktail is at the Sazerac Bar inside the historic Roosevelt Hotel. Groups can also take advantage of the immersive Drink and Learn tours led by local cocktail historian Elizabeth Pearce. Drink Lab also offers a wonderful workshop called Classic New Orleans Cocktails during which participants hone their mixology skills as they follow a two-hour guided program on key cocktail ingredients and mixing techniques. In 2019, the Sazerac Distilling Company plans to open the Sazerac House Museum to commemorate the Sazerac cocktail’s colorful history and influence. WWW.NEWORLEANS.COM


GRACELAND.COM/GROUPS • 800-238-2010 © EPE. Graceland and its marks are trademarks of EPE. All Rights Reserved. Elvis Presley™ © 2017 ABG EPE IP LLC

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Courtesy New Orleans CVB

CHERRY BOUNCE By Patrick Shanahan, courtesy Visit Raleigh

Those with a penchant for tart, fruit-based drinks are sure to enjoy the cherry bounce, the official cocktail of Raleigh, the capital of North Carolina. “If you ask any bartender in town what the signature cocktail is, they’ll say it’s the cherry bounce,” said Scott Peacock, director of public relations at the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau. The cocktail gained prevalence during the mid-1700s when a tavern owner named Isaac Hunter began serving the infused cherry-and-brandy blend at his establishment along a popular travel route between Fayetteville, North Carolina, and Petersburg, Virginia. The bar became such a popular spot among state legislators that when the North Carolina General Assembly met in 1788 to determine the location of the state capital, they decreed: “The General Assembly shall fix the unalterable seat of government within 10 miles of Isaac Hunter’s Tavern.” Though the original Isaac Hunter’s Tavern no longer exists, a new bar of the same name recently opened in downtown Raleigh. Another great spot to stop for cocktails is Watts and Ward, a speakeasy basement bar with leather tufted couches, bookshelves and exposed brick walls. The name Watts and Ward is a nod to the two pieces of legislation that initially introduced Prohibition to the state: the Watts Act of 1903 and the Ward Law of 1905. A few other excellent drink venues for groups to check out are Dram and Draught, Whiskey Kitchen and Vidrio. WWW.VISITRALEIGH.COM



Tennessee whiskey, whether a trademark brand like Jack Daniels or a regional favorite like Memphis Toddy, can serve as a great base for creative cocktails. The historic recipe for Memphis Toddy can be traced back to the Old Dominick Distillery in Memphis, a new distillery with a 100-year-old heritage. The company was founded during the 1870s by an Italian immigrant named Domenico Canale who partnered with a Kentucky distillery to develop a complex, high-rye bourbon whiskey with cinnamon and citrus undertones, a distinct blend he later dubbed the Memphis Toddy. The business closed following Canale’s death in 1919 but reopened in 2017 in a beautifully renovated warehouse with expansive tasting rooms and a rooftop patio. “Whatever you get at Old Dominick’s is going to be original and unique to Memphis,” said Caroline Parks, public relations and communications manager at Memphis Travel. “It’s distilled right here in the city.” There are several cocktail variations that groups can try when they visit the distillery for a tour and tasting. The Trolley Stop is a sweet blend of Memphis Toddy, Dolin Vermouth Dry, Dolin Vermouth Sweet and cherry bitters, served in a chilled toddy glass with dried cherries to garnish. WWW.MEMPHISTRAVEL.COM


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The Alabama Slammer has been a staple beverage of Crimson Tide fans and students of the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa since the 1970s. It was later made famous by Tom Cruise’s “Last Barman Poet” speech in the classic 1988 film “Cocktail.” The drink was featured as TGI Friday’s pitcher cocktail for many years and shares the title of the country song “Alabama Slammer” by the Casey Donahew Band. A classic Slammer combines a rainbow array of orange juice, ambertoned Amaretto, deep-red sloe gin and Southern Comfort liqueur, which adds a rich undertone of spice and fruit. Many bartenders add a cherry and an orange slice to garnish. The sunset-colored drink makes a perfect summer cocktail or game day drink, and travelers may find themselves ordering more than one as they explore Tuscaloosa’s eclectic bar scene. Tucked along a side street in downtown Tuscaloosa, the Alcove International Tavern has far more to offer than the typical hole-in-thewall college bar, with over 100 craft beers, a colorful range of islandinspired cocktails and a covered outdoor patio. Catch 22, another local venue, specializes in original infused cocktails. The Alabama Slammer should not be confused with the Alabama Yellowhammer cocktail, which is a trademark of Gallettes bar next to the University of Alabama football stadium. Gallettes is an iconic watering hole of Alabama Crimson Tide fans, and though the Yellowhammer recipe has been closely safeguarded for nearly 40 years, it is commonly believed that it contains a mix of pineapple juice, orange juice, Amaretto, vodka and rum. V I S I T T U S C A L O O S A . C O M


Courtesy Old Dominick Distillery

ALABAMA SLAMMER Courtesy Alcove International Tavern

Our history ain’t the only thing that’s colorful...


Carol y n J o y ce

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he South has everything groups need for enjoyable golf trips: ocean views, balmy weather and world-class entertainment just minutes from the course. Many resorts offer all-inclusive golf packages that cover lodging and tee times, making these dream trips affordable for every traveler.

Before you plot your next course down South, consider taking your group to one of the following golf destinations.

Gulf Shores, Alabama, offers both a proximity to the beach and renown golf courses. Courtesy Gulf Shore and Orange Beach Tourism


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Kiawah Island Golf Resort is one of South Carolina’s foremost golf destinations, boasting 90 holes of championship golf along pristine beaches and lush low-country landscape. “You can come to one resort and, within 20 minutes, drive from one end of the island to the next to play these championship-level golf courses,” said Bryan Hunter, public relations director at Kiawah Island Golf Resort. Kiawah Island Golf Resort’s flagship course, the Ocean Course, is one of only four courses in the United States to have hosted every major PGA event, among them the 1991 Ryder Cup and the 2012 PGA Championship. It is consistently ranked as one of the top golf courses in the world and will host the PGA Championship again in 2021. Pete Dye designed the course to be level with the top of the dunes along the beach, so players are completely exposed to strong and unpredictable ocean winds. “It’s very unusual for an American course to be built more like a Scottish course: not overly manicured and with natural hazard areas,” said Hunter. Surrounded by maritime forest and salt-water marshes, Osprey Point is favored by many resort guests for its stunning layout and scenery. Oak Point brings various elements of water into play as it winds along the Kiawah River and Haulover Creek. Designed by Jack Nicklaus, Turtle Point features tight fairways that challenge players to make precise shots. Cougar Point reopened to rave reviews in 2017 following an extensive 10-month renovation and was recently rated “Golf Course of the Year” by the South Carolina Golf Course Association. “It’s a thinking golfers’ course,” said Hunter. “It looks very simple from an initial impression, but from the way he designed the course, you really have to think through each shot strategically.” Groups can rent their own private villa or luxuriate in five-star accommodations at the awardwinning Sanctuary Hotel, which offers exceptional dining, a world-class tennis program and a spa. W W W . K I A W A H I S L A N D . C O M






Tucked along the turquoise waters and white sands of the Gulf of Mexico, the vibrant seaside communities of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach provide a diverse range of boutique shopping, mouthwatering seafood and family attractions. “There is live music every night up and down the coast,” said Kay Maghan, public relations manager at Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism. “You can play golf, have a dinner somewhere with live music and really enjoy yourself.” Golfers can choose from over a dozen first-rate golf courses in the area. The award-winning Kiva Dunes Golf Course is considered the No. 1 course in the state, with a challenging and beautiful layout design by Jim Edgemon and U.S. Open champion Jerry Pate. Lost Key Golf Club is situated just across the state line in Florida near historic downtown Pensacola. Lost Key was the first course in the state to be designated an Audubon International Silver Signature Sanctuary, meaning that it protects the area’s natural resources while displaying incredible views. North of the beach in a serene wooded landscape, Craft Farms Golf Resorts offers two exceptional courses — Cotton Creek and Cypress Bend — designed by golf legend Arnold Palmer. Peninsula Golf Club, Timbercreek Golf Club and Rock Creek Golf Club are popular choices as well. WWW.GULFSHORES.COM

The Delta on Display.

Greenwood’s rich culture and history comes to life at the Museum of the Mississippi Delta. Take a trip back in time and explore the first inhabitants of the Delta region from Mastodon skeletons and fossils to Pre-Columbian Native American artifacts, and stories of military history. View paintings and sculptures from local artisans, see what animals you can find in the indoor Mississippi swamp room, and immerse yourself in featured seasonal exhibitions.

Sanctuary Hotel

Find what moves you in Greenwood.

Courtesy Kiawah Island Golf Resort


Paid for in partnership by Visit Mississippi.

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Lakeview Resort

Courtesy Lakeview Resort

Sanctuary Hotel sitting room

Courtesy Kiawah Island Golf Resort

Morgantown is a colorful college town nestled amid West Virginia’s steep, rolling hills. The city provides a good home base for golfers as they visit some of the state’s most outstanding courses in the surrounding area. Pikewood National Golf Club was ranked as number 40 in Golf Digest’s “Top 100 Greatest American Golf Courses of 2017-18.” Dow Finsterwald, a former Ryder Cup captain and PGA champion, called it “the most challenging, fair and beautiful course in the world.” The course takes full advantage of West Virginia’s richly forested terrain, weaving around natural features such as a waterfall, rock bluffs and rapids. Lakeview Golf Resort and Spa is another of the most popular golf destinations in the Mid-Atlantic region. “The nice thing about Lakeview is that there are two courses,” said Dave Plevich, sports and special events sales manager at the Greater Morgantown Convention and Visitors Bureau. “People in groups love that because they can come in on the weekend and play two different courses while they’re there.” Spanning nearly 500 acres, the Lakeview course challenges players with sloped, narrow fairways encircled by towering oak and maple trees. During their stay, guests can also enjoy the resort’s amenities, including the Fitness and Sports Complex, a full-service spa and two restaurants overlooking Lakeview’s 18th green. WWW.TOURMORGANTOWN.COM


Just 20 minutes from the Gulf of Mexico in southwest Louisiana, Lake Charles provides the perfect setting for golf trips with year-round temperate weather, deluxe dining and nearby coastal attractions. There are several top-of-the-line golf courses based in this scenic area. Set against the beautiful backdrop of Lake Charles, the Contraband Bayou Golf Club at L’Auberge du Lac Casino Resort was named one of the “Best Places to Play in Louisiana” in 2010 and 2011 by GolfWeek. Adjacent to L’Auberge du Lac, the Golden Nugget Lake Charles casino resort features an 18-hole championship course designed by Californiabased architect Todd Eckenrode and Origins Golf Designs. Just five miles away in West Lake, the National Golf Club of Louisiana is one of the region’s newest and most affordable golf courses with 14 lakes and 65 bunkers. Groups can also take advantage of the state-of-the-art practice facility on-site. The Gray Plantation Golf Club is another award-winning golf course in town that includes a full-service sports facility with eight tennis T H E A L L UVI A N H O T EL • T H E A L LU V I A N S P A courts and two hard courts. “The greatest advantage of these courses is VI KI N G C O O KI N G SC H O O L • G I A R D I N A ’ S that they’re no more than 30 minutes apart, so players can visit multiple courses in one day,” said William Precht, media relations manager at the Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention and Visitors Bureau. 314 Howard Street | Greenwood, Mississippi 38930 | 662.455.4227 WWW.VISITLAKECHARLES.ORG THEALLUV I AN. COM


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The city of Virginia Beach sits on the southeastern tip of Virginia where Chesapeake Bay joins the Atlantic Ocean, right next to historic sites such as First Landing State Park and the Jamestown Settlement in Williamsburg. Groups will find no shortage of entertainment in the area, which contains a wealth of restaurants, craft breweries, museums and recreational water activities. Out of the region’s 19 golf courses, the Signature at West Neck is one of the most prestigious, with a beautiful layout design by Arnold Palmer and a 24,000-square-foot clubhouse. In a serene setting between Lake Lawson and Lake Smith, the Cypress Point Country Club presents an 18-hole championship course from architect Thomas Clark. The Virginia Beach National Golf Club offers an engaging course designed to accommodate players of all skill levels. “We have some for pro golfers that were designed by golf legends, but then we also have Topgolf for the golf enthusiasts who don’t want to stop by the courses,” said Charli Sharp, director of public relations at the Virginia Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau. Topgolf is a premier entertainment complex that features high-tech virtual golf and other games, using microchip technology to track each player’s points. After playing a few rounds of golf, groups can explore some of Virginia Beach’s countless attractions, among them the Military Aviation Museum and the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center. Other travelers may enjoy winding down with a sunset dolphin kayak tour or a stroll to the Cape Henry Lighthouse, or by simply lounging on Virginia Beach. W W W . V I S I T V I R G I N I A B E A C H . C O M

Gray Plantation Golf Course Courtesy

Virginia Beach

Courtesy Virginia Beach CVB

Plan your family’s out-of-this world adventure now! All-inclusive weekend program * Ages 7 to 100 Family Space Camp is an all-inclusive weekend

camp program for families with children ages 7 and up. This exhilarating world-renowned adventure allows parents and children train like astronauts and take part in simulated missions to space. Call 1-800-637-7223 today to plan your journey!

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marketing Y O U R




oogle performs 3.5 billion searches for users around the world each day. With such an unfathomable amount of traffic, Google’s ad platform, called Adwords, is the largest and most widely used online advertising network on the planet. Google Adwords continuously tweaks its advertising capabilities, resulting in a platform capable of impressive data tracking and customizable options. But as the technology improves, using this behemoth company to get the word out about a small travel program can seem like an increasingly daunting task. However, loyalty group travel programs of any size can harness the power of Google to their advantage by understanding a key concept: geotargeting. A small company’s ad doesn’t need to reach the far corners of Google’s audience to make a marketing impact. Instead, its field should be narrowed to target users in the right geographic areas, income brackets and age demographics.


Geotargeting allows advertisers to choose who sees their ads based on the viewers’ zip codes or places of interest. This technique is used by Facebook, Twitter, Google and other online marketing platforms so small businesses can ensure relevant people see their ads. For example, an Arizona Mexican restaurant wouldn’t want to pay for ad views from Web users as far away as Pittsburgh. Adwords offers three options when targeting by location: targeting using a physical location, targeting destinations for which people are searching online and a combination of both. To set up a geotargeting ad based on a physical location, enter a zip code, a city name or a destination, and a radius within which you want to reach. Banks with a travel program would want to restrict their ad for a bank trip to the area they service for maximum results. This option of geotargeting may work best for most loyalty travel programs, since targeting people searching for the area online may result in too many casual visitors who wouldn’t be interested in joining a travel program. The platform also lets advertisers exclude people from certain locations if there is an area the advertiser knows will probably not yield many interested viewers. After running a few campaigns, advertisers can examine what areas generate the least leads and cut those areas out of future marketing endeavors for a higher return on investment. There are often many marketers trying to reach users in


densely populated, affluent cities, so group travel planners in those markets may have to pay more for online advertising than those in small towns. For those wanting to attract people in multiple regions, such as a bank with more than one branch, each region can have a separate ad campaign that is directed specifically at that area. For example, an alumni travel program seeking to invest more money on advertising toward the original campus than the satellite campus location can specify these ad budgets with separate ad campaigns.


For some travel planners, a geographic area may not contain all the potentially interested viewers. For those types of programs, advertisers can target based on keywords rather than physical location. For example, an alumni travel planner might set one campaign to target people searching for “Georgetown alumni,” so no matter where the viewer is, that person will see an ad for Georgetown University’s alumni travel program. Advertisers should beware of using only generic keywords, since Google Adwords’ prices are set by a bidding system. So, common keywords like “travel” would be highly coveted and expensive, whereas more specific searches like “Albuquerque businesses” would be much more limiting for someone attempting to promote Albuquerque’s Chamber of Commerce travel program. The trick is to find a set of keywords for which enough people are searching but not so many that the advertiser will face stiff competition. Travel planners should use online aids such as Adwords’ Keyword Tool to determine a list of relevant keywords and the amount of Web traffic each word brings. To help narrow the list of potential search terms, planners can also select negative keywords to weed out the irrelevant viewers. Chamber groups could remove anyone searching with the keyword “visitor” from seeing their ad, since they rely more on locals to join their programs. If a keyword set proves too expensive, advertisers can use tools like Wordstream, which integrates keywords relevant to the content to let them know the volume of each keyword and its competition.


Google Adwords allows users to target more than just location and keywords. Advertising campaigns can also be narrowed by income and age demographics. For a luxury alumni travel

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OF YOUR MARKETING PLAN program, a Google advertisement targeted to higher income brackets would ideally appear only to potential customers, instead of reaching a wider audience of varying income levels. For groups with a variety of tour prices, multiple campaigns aimed at different income brackets could also yield the most return on investment. Narrowing age demographics can also prove useful for groups with age limits, such as a bank travel program limited to travelers aged 50 and up. With those age limits set up, a bank program’s ad would appear only to seniors who qualify.

For many advertisers, the limits set up in their Adwords campaigns need to be re-evaluated constantly. Instead of running the same ad to the same group of people, planners should continually tweak and examine data to make sure their advertising dollars are well spent. Adwords Performance Grader and other online tools work to help clients analyze their Adwords campaigns by reporting on the strength of their mobile optimization, landing pages, clickthrough rates and text ad optimization. If an Adwords campaign doesn’t work the first time, planners should try again after more research. With the right online advertising campaign in place, group travel clients are only a click away.

New Hampshire’s Lakes Region

• Scenic Boat & Train Cruises • Museum & Castle Tours • Itinerary Ideas & Development

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sometimes a weekend is all it takes BY BRIAN JEWELL


eekends were made for getaways. Traditional tour groups have long attracted customers with long trips to faraway places. And though there are wonderful destinations that require a lot of travel time to reach, the modern American lifestyle affords few people the opportunity to depart on a 10- or 14-day tour. Many affinity travel club members are still working and are unlikely to want to be away from the office that long. The perfect solution for reaching these people may be the long-weekend trip. Three days and two nights is the perfect length of time for exploring some of the most distinctive destinations around the country. It allows younger travelers to join an outing without having to take excessive time off from work. It’s a perfect opportunity for new travelers to test the waters of group travel without committing to a longer journey. And these short trips emphasize fun. Whether you travel over a weekend or take a three-day midweek outing, here are five ideas for creative weekend getaways, as well as five practical tips for making them work for your group.


From seaside escapes to mountain retreats, dude ranches, golf destinations and more, there are great resort properties in every region of the United States. A group can easily experience the food, spa, natural attractions and other amenities at a resort in a long weekend. Turn travelers loose to explore on their own throughout the day, then come together for a memorable meal each evening. Work with the resort before your visit to reserve some spa appointments or tee times for your group.


A long weekend can be ideal for a focused visit to a single city. Longer tours often involve moving around a region from one destination to the next, but shorter excursions like this allow more time to enjoy places like New York, San Francisco, Atlanta, Chicago and Las Vegas, as well as other popular spots. Three days is long enough for planned visits to highlight attractions, and travelers will still have time to shop, explore or dine on their own. Staying in a centrally located hotel will help you make the most of these great cities.


Many conventional tours are built around visits to spectacular national parks, but because of the tour routing, travelers may only get to spend a day or less in the park itself. A three-day trip that focuses exclusively on the national or state park of your choosing will give travelers time to enjoy the natural beauty, the history and other elements of the destination at a more relaxed pace. It will also allow groups to experience some of the interesting hotels and lodges within those parks. Top: West Virginia train ride, courtesy Durbin and Greenbrier Valley Railroad Bottom: Kimmel Center, courtesy Philadelphia CVB


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Instead of trying to package a trip that offers something for everyone, standard practice on many full-length tours, why not plan a short, focused trip around a specific area of interest? Plan girlfriend getaways that are all about shopping; theater and music trips to popular entertainment destinations; or culinary trips to one of the country’s most delicious destinations. Three days is time enough to savor a single style of travel without tiring of it.


Nothing brings strangers together faster than team spirit. If your organization’s membership includes a fair number of sports fans, why not plan a trip around a specific sporting event they would enjoy? It could be a trip to a major event, such as the Masters or the Kentucky Derby, or even a trip to follow your community’s favorite college or professional team to an away game. Take some time to visit area attractions before heading to the arena or stadium for the main event.


You could save substantial money on your three-day trip by checking with the destination’s convention and visitors bureau to learn about area hotel occupancy patterns. In some places that have high weeknight business-travel occupancy, groups can get good deals booking unused hotel rooms for Friday, Saturday or Sunday nights. The opposite is true in highly trafficked tourist destinations, where hotel rates are lower midweek and then spike on the weekend.

Top: Horseback excursion, courtesy French Lick Resort Middle: Tipton Cabin Rentals, courtesy Great Smoky Mountains NP Bottom: Whiteoak Canyon, courtesy Shenandoah NP M A R C H / A P R I L

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Dine With History

Twilight Tour Progressive Mansions Dinner


Time is at a premium on long-weekend trips, and your travelers will be disappointed if too much of their trip time is taken up in transit. To keep travel time to a minimum, select destinations that are within a four-hour motorcoach ride of your community. That will allow you to leave first thing Friday morning, arrive by lunchtime and then spend two whole days exploring or relaxing before departing after lunch on Sunday to return home at a decent hour.


For most clubs, traveling by bus is the most cost-efficient and time-effective way to reach a weekend getaway destination. But if your organization is based near a city that has exceptional air or rail service, there’s a case to be made for flying or taking the train. If you can get a nonstop route from your home airport or train station to the place you’re visiting, you can cut your travel time and enjoy more time seeing the sites.


Costumed Guides; Catered Dinner, Delicious Desse


Dinner at Heritage Farms at Willow Creek

One of the primary goals of shorter trips is to woo younger travelers to your organization. So when you plan weekend getaways, eschew senior-citizen traditions and plan excursions that younger people will enjoy. This means including abundant free time and more physical activity, as well as emphasizing higher-end dining and lodging experiences. Plan to stay out later at night and not start quite so early the next morning.


1853 Hay Press Barn; All American Meal OHIO Indianapolis




If you’re traveling to a big city on a short time frame, you’ll want some local experts to help you make the most of the destination. This is where receptive tour operators come in. These companies specialize in packaging tours that highlight the best of their local areas. Receptive operators often have access to coveted theater tickets, restaurant reservations and other perks that groups usually can’t get on their own, and they know how to arrange one-of-a-kind experiences that aren’t available to the public.




Above: A luxury resort pool, courtesy French Lick Resort

South of I-74 & west of I-275, 20 minutes west of Cincinnati 800-322-8198


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w e ’ v e


georgia chamber of commerce ATLANTA, GEORGIA TRIP: Experience Africa With the Georgia Chamber TOUR OPERATOR: Central Holidays West DATE: June 2017 For 12 days, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce discovered South Africa’s natural beauty and cultural riches, including Johannesburg, Cape Town and Table Mountain. “Out of the many places we’ve explored through our international travel program, South Africa has by far been the most memorable destination. One of the coolest things our guests experienced was the safari through Kruger National Park. We’re talking up-close encounters with some of the world’s wildest and most exotic animals. Another part of the trip that our guests couldn’t stop talking about was Victoria Falls.”


manhattan area chamber of commerce MANHATTAN, KANSAS TRIP: Manhattan and Salina Area Chambers of Commerce Present the Best of Italy

TOUR OPERATOR: Chamber Explorations DATE: March/April 2017 The Manhattan and Salina Area Chambers of Commerce teamed up to explore Italy in Florence, Rome, Venice and Assisi. “Whether it was the hilltop town of Assisi or the larger cities of Florence and Rome, we loved the building, architecture, history, artwork and beauty of Italy. I think most on our tour group found taking a real gondola ride through Venice as a top highlight. In Rome, seeing firsthand the incredible works by Michelangelo at the Sistine Chapel was spectacular. An unscheduled stop on top of a hill overlooking the beautiful city of Florence at dusk was absolutely breathtaking.”


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