Page 1


A Premier Tourism Marketing publication •

Because the only thing better than telling old stories is creating new ones. If you’ve ever been to Columbus, you know it isn’t your ordinary destination. Its one-of-a-kind festivals, unique hands-on attractions and freethinking attitude make it a city like no other and one your group is sure to love. So start planning your Columbus visit today at or by calling 800-354-2657. COMING IN 2012




Ä‘ĆŤĆŤ!+)!ĆŤ*ĆŤ.0%/0ĆŤ"+.ĆŤ0$!ĆŤ 5ĆŤ0 0$!ĆŤColumbus Museum of Art. Rachel Trinkley, 614-629-5942,

đƍƍ$+,ƍ0ƍ$1* .! /ƍ+"ƍ/,!%(05ƍ/0+.!/ƍ 0ƍEaston Town Centerċƍ Bethany Braden, 614-750-0616,

đƍƍ2+.ƍ0$!ƍ0/0!/ƍ+"ƍ+( ƍ .!(* ƍ%*ƍDublinċƍ Mary Szymkowiak, 614-792-7666,

đƍƍ0ƍ.!'"/0ƍ3%0$ƍ0$!ƍ*%)(/ƍ0ƍ 0$!ƍColumbus Zoo and Aquariumċƍ Roger Dudley, 614-645-3521,

Ä‘ĆŤĆŤ$+,ĆŤ0ĆŤÄ Ä€Ä€ĆŤ*)!ÄĄ.* ĆŤ/0+.!/ĆŤ 0ĆŤPrime Outlets–JeffersonvilleÄ‹ĆŤ Kristen Hauer, 740-948-9091,

Ä‘ĆŤĆŤ$((!*#!ĆŤ5+1.ĆŤ%**!.ĆŤ!4,(+.!.ĆŤ0ĆŤCOSIÄ‹ĆŤ Susan Peters, 614-228-2674 ext. 2542,


Ä‘ĆŤĆŤ2+.ĆŤ$!.ÄĄ%*"1/! ĆŤ"++ /ĆŤ%*ĆŤGahannaÄŒĆŤ '*+3*ĆŤ/ĆŤ0$!ĆŤ!.ĆŤ,%0(ĆŤ+"ĆŤ$%+Ä‹ Katrina McDonald, 614-418-9114,

đƍƍ(+3ƍƍ#(//ƍ+.*)!*0ƍ%*ƍLicking CountyċƍBen Clemons, 740-345-8224,

đƍƍ$100(!ƍ0+ƍ/0+*ƍ+3*ƍ!*0!.ƍ ".+)ƍEmbassy Suites Columbus AirportċƍLindsay Phillips, 614-536-0211,

Ä‘ĆŤĆŤ '!ĆŤEastern Ohio ToursĆŤ5+1.ĆŤ .!/+1.!ĆŤ"+.ĆŤ%*0!.0%2!ĆŤ0+1./Ä‹ĆŤ Dixie Wyler, 740-754-1833,

đƍƍ2!.*%#$0ƍ%*ƍ0$!ƍ$%,ƍ$+.0ƍ+.0$ƍ .0/ƍ%/0.%0ƍ0ƍHampton Inn & Suites Downtown Columbusċƍ Gene Minnich, 614-559-2000, www.columbusdowntownsuites. đƍƍ05ƍ(+/!ƍ0+ƍ+(.%/ƍ/$%+*ƍ(!ƍ 0ƍHilton Garden Inn Columbus/ Polarisċƍ Teresa Shay Tompkins, 614-846-8884,

Ä‘ĆŤĆŤ%#1.!ĆŤ+10ĆŤÄ—3$+ 1*%0Ä˜ĆŤ 1.%*#ĆŤ+.%#%*(ĆŤ %*0!.0%2!ĆŤ %**!.ĆŤ0$!0!.ĆŤ/$+3/ĆŤ%*ĆŤ Ohio VillageÄ‹ĆŤLesley Cornathan, 614-297-3219,

đƍƍ4,(+.!ƍ$!ƍ$%+ƍ00!ƍ*%2!./%05ƍ* ƍ +3*0+3*ƍ0ƍHilton Garden Inn– OSUċƍMaggie Mungai, 614-263-7200, đƍƍ05ƍ +3*0+3*ƍ0ƍHoliday Inn

Columbus Downtown Capitol Square. Tyson Schweitzer, 614-221-3281, đƍƍ2!.*%#$0ƍ(+/!ƍ0+ƍ +3*0+3*ƍ 0ƍUniversity Plaza Hotel & Conference Centerċƍ John Loree, 614-456-1156,

Ä‘ĆŤĆŤ+1.ĆŤ5+1.ĆŤ+3*ĆŤ1/0+)ÄĄ/!*0! ĆŤ * (!ÄŒĆŤ0$!*ĆŤ/!(!0ĆŤ5+1.ĆŤ"2+.%0!ĆŤ 3%*!ĆŤ%*ĆŤWorthington.ĆŤ Mindy Mace, 614-841-2545,

contents Vol. 21, No. 6

December 2011


COVER STORY 27 DISCOVERING SOUTH DAKOTA Photo Courtesy of South Dakota Department of Tourism

Great faces and much more await groups in this monumental state by randy mink


Reader’s Choice Awards


Travel Pros Eye the Future


River Cruise Forecast by cindy bertram


Student Travel Outlook by lance harrell


Central Nebraska’s Crane Convention


Best of Northern Indiana by randy mink


Maryland Celebrates Year-Round by kari kamin


Arizona Spring Training by sue arko


Tennessee for Students by dave bodle



On My Mind


On Tour

by jeff gayduk

by marty sarbey de souto

On Experiential Travel 54

On Marketing

by joe veneto

by dave bodle


On The Write Team


On The Record

42 ON THE COVER:  Mount Rushmore’s Avenue of Flags. (Photo by Chad Coppess/South Dakota Department of Tourism)

Bloomington, Minnesota U.S.A.

Fun: Mallof Family Fun ofAmerica America® has the widest variety of enter entertainment tainment options under one roof, including the largest indoor Nickelodeon® theme park – Nickelodeon Universe Universe..® World-Class Shopping Shoppin : 520 stores all in one location with no sales tax on clothing and shoes! World-Class Shopping: For more infor mation, contact Millie Philipp in Malll of America TTourism ourism at 952.883.8843, 952.8 information, or visit www

on my mind ❖

On My Mind jeff gayduk

❖ jeff gayduk


Vol. 21, No. 6 December 2011 Editorial & Advertising Office

621 Plainfield Road, Suite 406 Willowbrook, IL 60527 P 630.794.0696 • F 630.794.0652

Publisher – Jeffrey Gayduk

Managing Editor – Randy Mink

Senior Editor – John Kloster

I DON’T KNOW ABOUT you, but time passes too quickly in my world. Maybe it’s our super-busy office, maybe it’s my super-busy home life (three kids and an over-stimulated Rhodesian Ridgeback will do that to you!), but it seems like just yesterday we were welcoming 2011, and here we are closing the books on this year. December’s the time to reflect on our achievements of the past year and set the table for what’s next. I don’t know how your business was in ’11, but if you’re like most, it was fair to middling. What can you take away from this year that will help you grow in 2012? What successful tours are you able to duplicate? What new sales or marketing strategies did you put in place that netted measurable results? Any new operational efficiencies help you run smoother trips? Take stock of these wins so they become a habit. And if 2011 wasn’t all you wanted it to be, now is the time to work on your game plan. Where did you fall short? Products – Marketing – Operational Inefficiencies? Now is not the time to blame external factors like gas prices, a weak economy or aging travelers. I travel through airports and they’re jammedpacked with customers. Cruise ships are at record capacity. If your people aren’t traveling, let’s go out and get new people. Despite macro-economic and publishing trends that say otherwise, we accomplished a lot this year. Among our undertakings were a redesign of the website, 6 December 2011

a relaunch of our entire online directory platform, two new religious publications, product improvements in all of our niche markets – reunions, students and sports - and a serious headstart on a major social networking initiative (check out But all this didn’t happen overnight. Our plan was set in motion over a decade ago, and despite two recessions, a massive shift in media buying patterns and shifting group markets, we have persevered by stacking our wins and adjusting our strategy as needed. This Industry Forecast edition of Leisure Group Travel is designed to help you right your ship on a course to success. Travel association leaders provide insider knowledge on what’s in store for their members next year. Noted experiential travel guru Joe Veneto provides insight on how to develop this aspect of your business. Our own Lance Harrell talks technology as it relates to student travel, and cruise columnist Cindy Bertram reports on exciting trends in the burgeoning river cruise industry. No one knows for sure what next year will bring, but the best we can do is prepare for success. Spend some time with this special edition of Leisure Group Travel and set your business on a path of prosperity in 2012. Happy Holidays,

Senior Editor – Elana Andersen

Senior Editor – Dave Bodle

Senior Editor – Carol Smith

Director, Design & Production – Robert Wyszkowski

Regional Sales Managers Illinois – Jim McCurdy

P 630.794.0696 • F 630.794.0652

Northeast & Eastern Midwest/Canada – Harry Peck P 440.334.7928 • F 630.794.0652

Mid Atlantic – Ellen Klesta

P 630.794.0696 • F 630.794.0652

Southeast/West Coast – Cheryl Rash

P 563.613.3068 • F 815.225.5274

Southern – Dolores Ridout P/F 281.762.9546 Florida & Caribbean – Prof Inc. P 813.286.8299 • F 813.287.0651 The publisher accepts unsolicited editorial matter, as well as advertising, but assumes no responsibility for statements made by advertisers or contributors. Every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the information published, but the publisher makes no warranty that listings are free of error. The publisher is not responsible for the return of unsolicited photos, slides or manuscripts.

Leisure Group Travel (ISSN-1531-1406) is published bi-monthly by Premier Tourism Marketing, Inc. 621 Plainfield Road, Suite 406, Willowbrook, IL 60527. The magazine is distributed free of charge to qualified tour operators, travel agents, group leaders, bank travel clubs and other travel organizations. Other travel-related suppliers may subscribe at the reduced rate of $12.00 per year. The regular subscription price for all others is $18.00 per year. Single copies are $4.95 each.

Send Address Change to:

Premier Tourism Marketing, Inc. P.O. Box 609, Palos Heights, IL 60463


Jeff Gayduk, Publisher


All rights reserved. Materials may not be reproduced in any form without written permission of the publisher.

On the Write Team


Meet the Contributors to This Issue joe

see page




see page


Joe Veneto, the “Opportunity Guy,” is a travel industry consultant, speaker and trainer whose areas of specialty include sales development, destination marketing, innovative product development and customer service. His clients have included government tourism agencies, hotels, restaurants, and historical and cultural attractions. See his column on experiential travel on page 12.

Editorial intern Kari Kamin is studying fiction writing at Columbia College in Chicago. Her favorite places to travel are to Madison, Wis. to visit her family or anywhere close to water. Her next trip: the Dominican Republic. She enjoys cooking, embroidery and exploring Chicago. See Kari’s article on Maryland festivals on page 42.



14 sarbey de souto see page

see page






see page



Cindy has 15+ years of cruise expertise in sales marketing and training, with an MBA from Loyola University Chicago. Her cruise blog, “Cindy’s Inside Cruise Track,” can be found at Premier Tourism’s Marketing’s Group Cruise Directory. She can be contacted at See Cindy’s river cruise industry article on page 20.

see page

Cactus League stadiums in Arizona



Based in Gilbert, Ariz., Sue is owner of Free Spirit Vacations and Events and co-owner of Travel Alliance Partners. She earned her bachelors and masters degrees in recreation and public administration at Arizona State University. See her article on Arizona Baseball Spring Training on page 46.

see page


Cows at Indiana’s Fair Oaks Farm

Based in El Cerrito, Calif., our long-time columnist is the author of How to Plan, Operate and Lead Successful Group Tours, an e-book available from Premier Tourism Marketing’s educational website, She founded the travel industry program at Berkeley City College, where she taught all aspects of group travel for 32 years. Enjoy Marty’s column on page 14.


Senior editor Dave Bodle, a former publisher of travel trade publications, heads up our Southern editorial coverage. He operates David’s Tour Connections, a receptive operator that serves Myrtle Beach, the Carolinas and Virginia and offers outgoing tours as well. See Dave’s Tennessee article on page 49 and marketing column on page 54.

59,610 Population of Rapid City, South Dakota

1867 Year that Nebraska entered the Union

40 Miles of Lake Michigan shoreline in Indiana



Lance Harrell is the director of online operations at Premier Tourism Marketing. A molecular geneticist by training, he also has over a decade of web design, online marketing and SEO experience. A lifelong student and explorer at heart, he seeks remote, nature-filled destinations where he can immerse himself in the local biology and culture. See Lance’s article on student travel on page 25.

Become a fan of ours on Facebook and we’ll keep you informed of the latest news in the industry by sending you Facebook updates when news breaks. Simply search for “Group Travel” and look for the Premier Tourism Marketing logo! Leisure Group Travel is also joining the Twitter craze. Go to to get the latest “tweets” from the Leisure Group Travel staff.

8 December 2011


1,600 Bears living in Great Smoky Mountains NP

43 Percent of Maryland covered by forests Bottom Two Photos © 2011 JupiterImages Corporation

Schynige-Platte cogwheel railway

Train travel in Switzerland. Switzerland’s public transportation network is second to none. It’s fast, efficient, frequent and connects even the most remote places. Explore Switzerland with a single ticket for trains, busses and boats: the Swiss Pass. Lucerne - in the heart of Switzerland. Lucerne has it all: the great transport museum, the first and the steepest cogwheel railways, a narrow-gauge panoramic train, and historic steamships on Lake Lucerne. Thanks to its attractions, its souvenir and watch shops, the impressive mountainous panorama and the nearby excursion mountains of the Rigi and Mt. Pilatus, the town is a destination for many travel groups on their journey through the Lake Lucerne Region. A train buff‘s paradise! Engadin St. Moritz UNESCO World Heritage site. The UNESCO World Heritage recognition of the high-altitude engineering wonderland through Switzerland’s Engadin Valley honors one of the most spectacular, technically innovative and harmonious narrowgauge railways. Since the extension of the road system through these passes,

the construction of the Rhaetian Railway and the Bernina Express, which reaches as far as Veltlin, Upper Engadin has been accessible to the entire world - and people from all over the world love this valley, which delights visitors with its incomparable nature at all times of the year. Sunstar Hotels - Alpine Emotions. Sunstar, founded in 1969, is the only genuinely Swiss Hotel Group, with nine first-class hotels nestled in the Alps and offering a total of over 1,670 beds in 915 rooms. Arosa, Davos, Flims, Klosters, Lenzerheide, Grindelwald, Zermatt and Wengen are the best-known resorts. Whether you come for a walking or winter sports vacation, to visit a spa center or to attend a meeting or other special event – at Sunstar Hotels, guests with varied interests will feel at home and enjoy “Alpine emotions”.

For information on Switzerland, please visit For bookings, call Rail Source International: 1-800-551-2085

1 1 0 2

RE ADER’S ★ C H★I C Erds a w A ★

You voted...and the results are in! Congratulations to our 2011 Reader’s Choice winners, selected by readers of Leisure Group Travel. Subscribers voted by mailing in their Reader Service Card or going online at

About This Year’s Award Winners

n the Domestic Destination category, New York City muscled its way into first, proving it’s A-No.1, top of the heap in reclaiming the title earned in 2009. Right behind were Las Vegas and San Francisco, making it an urban sweep. Last year’s top destinations—Alaska, Branson and Pigeon Forge— were far from city lights. New York also took honors in the Tourist Attraction sweepstakes with the World Trade Center’s Ground Zero site placing third, apparently garnering support with news of the 9/11 Memorial that opened in September. It was runner-up to the Grand Canyon, a Gold recipient for the second year in a row, and first-place finisher Walt Disney World, which reclaimed the top slot after not placing in last year’s balloting. Attraction category winners reflected a nice balance between theme park, natural wonder and urban site. In the International Destination category, London—fresh from the William and Kate wedding and gearing up for the 2012 Summer Olympics—earned Platinum, followed by perennial Reader’s Choice favorites Italy and Ireland.


10 December 2011

In the Theater category, Sight & Sound beat out The Fireside for first place, a flip-flop of last year’s results. The Palm Springs Follies earned Silver. In the voting for Tour Operator, Leisure Group Travel readers for the fifth year in a row gave the Platinum and Gold to Collette Vacations and Globus Family of Brands, respectively. Apple Vacations took Silver. The Cruise Line competition also saw familiar players as Princess and Holland America again placed first and third, with NCL replacing last year’s Gold winner, Carnival. Long-time reader favorites Holiday Inn and Hampton Inn won Platinum and Gold in the Hotel category, while Fairmont took Silver. Two of the top three Casino winners— Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun and Atlantic City’s Tropicana— were in the East, with Washington State’s Tulalip, recognized for the first time, coming in second. Thanks to all who cast their ballots in the Reader’s Choice Awards. If you disagree with this year’s results, ensure your opinion is voiced in our 2012 Awards—voting starts next August.



Walt Disney World • Platinum Grand Canyon • Gold Ground Zero • Silver

London • Platinum Italy • Gold Ireland • Silver



Princess • Platinum NCL • Gold Holland America • Silver

Collette Vacations • Platinum Globus Family of Brands • Gold Apple Vacations • Silver



Sight & Sound • Platinum The Fireside • Gold Palm Springs Follies • Silver

Mohegan Sun, CT • Platinum Tulalip, WA • Gold Tropicana, NJ • Silver



New York • Platinum Las Vegas • Gold San Francisco • Silver

Holiday Inn • Platinum Hampton Inn • Gold Fairmont • Silver

December 2011 11

On Experiential Travel

❖ joe veneto

It’s All About the Experience THE GROUP TOUR marketplace continues to undergo a remarkable transformation that began in the 1990s. This is due to shifts in both the demographics and psychographics of group travelers as well as the emergence of the Internet. Today’s group travelers, whether adults or students, are experience junkies and do not want a vanilla vacation of show and tell. Rather, they want to be engaged and immersed in their travel experiences. These customers are healthier, more active, better educated and more sophisticated in their travel tastes. They possess an innate curiosity about the world, want to learn, explore new horizons and are connected to the worldwide web of information and ideas. The best way to meet the ever-changing desires of this new and emerging group tour customer is to engineer unforgettable experiences in which they are active participants. By doing this, destinations and their travel supplier partners will create competitive advantage and marketplace visibility. While many destinations and travel suppliers recognize and acknowledge the ever-changing group travel landscape, far fewer have engineered new experiences to address these trends. Four U.S. destinations that have recognized the trends and market shifts include Philadelphia, Pa; Columbus, Ohio; Dutchess County, N.Y.; and Virginia Beach, Va. In each case, the DMOs, all very involved in the group market, developed new experiences for group travelers. Each destination participated in the Experiential Development Process. The DMOs selected a group of partners that were interested in engineering innovative 12 December 2011

experiences. Then, current products were assessed, evaluated and re-engineered. In addition, new exclusive group experiences were designed, scripted, staged and launched. In each case, tour operators, motorcoach companies and receptives now have a host of unique new experiences to wrap into their travel products. In Philadelphia, a city of murals, groups can participate in painting a mural with a local artist. Joe Poone, one of the city’s ambassadors, will engage visitors on a “Walk ’n’ Wok” tour of Chinatown, escorting them through the neighborhood and bringing them to his

makes history come alive at a variety of historic homes. As a participant on the “Servants to Stewards” tour at the Vanderbilt Mansion, everyone is assigned a character role and chores. A trip to Mount Gulian features the homestead of original Dutch settlers, the Verplancks, where a white-glove tour allows a glimpse into the archives and artifacts. The Millbrook Winery provides wonderful settings to learn about wine making. In Virginia Beach, “Live the Life Adventures” offer a variety of themed experiences. For a trip down memory lane, groups at the Military Aviation

Destinations that offer special experiences have a competitive edge restaurant for a wok lunch. The Academy of Natural Sciences offers “Behind the Scenes” tours. Groups can meet a paleontologist and see the dinosaur bones collection or discuss entomology while viewing the original specimens from the Lewis & Clark expedition. Columbus, Ohio has over 40 engaging experiences for groups. “A Stop at the Kelton House” includes meeting Sophia Kelton, whose family hides runaway slaves on the Underground Railroad. At the Columbus Art Museum, visitors can learn George Bellows’ twominute drawing technique using the collections in the galleries for inspiration. Ballet Met, the city’s ballet company, provides an “Open House Experience” where participants learn about the company and engage in a “Dance, Move, Stretch” class. Along the Hudson, Dutchess County

Museum meet Rosie the Riveter and see the largest collection of flying WWII aircraft. Edgar Cryce’s A.R.E. (Association for Research and Enlightenment) provides a host of experiences, from holistic health to understanding dreams. In each destination tour groups have the option to be engaged in a host of new experiences. Tour groups want unforgettable experiences that will provide bragging rights, and savvy operators that wrap their tours with these products will reap rewards. It’s all about the experience and to be successful, tour planners must get on the bus. Joe Veneto, a.k.a. The Opportunity Guy, collaborates with destination marketing organizations and travel suppliers to engineer unforgettable experiences. He is creator of the Experiential Development Process. Joe can be reached at; email: or (617) 786-9096.

On Tour

❖ marty sarbey de souto, ctc

Tour Planners Need to Be Prepared for Emergencies ONE FRIDAY AFTERNOON a couple of weeks ago I fell and broke my shoulder and arm. I had blithely parked my car at the shopping center and walked across the parking lot toward Trader Joe’s, where I tripped and fell “splat” on my face on the cement, my arm curled under me to break the fall. The ambulance ride with sirens blazing, the emergency room crew, the whole drama – I look back on it now with amazement. Then, as I lay there doped up on vicodin, I started thinking, “What if this had happened to me while escorting a tour? Or, what if it had happened to one of my tour members while on my watch? How would I have handled it? And although I have written on this subject a number of times before, I think it’s worth our taking a second look to be sure we’re prepared for such an eventuality as it really can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere. Much of the preparation for an unsettling event like this goes back to the trip-planning stage – back to when we first set up the trip, selected the operator and costed the program. Did we pick a truly reputable tour operator with the years of experience behind them and a protocol for handling such emergencies? Or did we think we could do it ourselves and save some money or perhaps select a less-experienced operator? Did we review their company emergency protocol with them? Did we consider that we should, perhaps, cost something into the budget if we were to suddenly have to hire a pro14 December 2011

fessional paid tour manager to take over the tour escorting duties should you become incapacitated? While many colleagues may be willing to escort a tour in your stead just for the free trip, many “pros” will require a salary to pick up the tour where you left off and complete it successfully. This happened to me back in 1980 when I suddenly was told I had to have emergency surgery a couple weeks before departure and I had to locate a knowledgeable French-speaking tour leader to take my annual ladies’ tour to Paris.

Very rarely will you need to use this information but the once-in-a-bluemoon when you may have to, it’s worth its weight in gold. Another aspect to consider is preventative care. How can you help your participants take good care of themselves on tour? They need to watch where they’re walking; many of the most interesting towns have narrow, cracked, bumpy sidewalks, perhaps with tree roots growing up through the cracks. They may need to be reminded to eat moderately – not overstuff themselves just because it’s “free.” They need to be

Gather emergency contact and other vital information on each tour member I then have to ask myself, “Am I taking all the necessary information with me on my tour members so that if something like this happened to one of them along the way, I would be able to step in quickly and efficiently to expedite emergency handling?” In addition to the basic information I take on each member (legal name, address, phone number(s), and e-mail), do I also have an emergency contact for everyone (family member, best friend, neighbor)? In addition, do my records indicate a contact for the member’s personal physician and any necessary information on the medical insurance plan to which they may belong or membership number? It’s fairly easy to make up a standard questionnaire that you require of all tour members before departure.

traveling on a carefully crafted itinerary that does not exhaust them; there needs to be “time out” inserted here and there in the days’ activities. And all mornings do not necessarily need to start at the crack of dawn – how about a morning here and there when they can “sleep in,” enjoy a more leisurely breakfast, take their vitamins, maybe even do a few exercises? All in all, we cannot avoid all emergencies. But we can do ourselves and our tour members a favor by being as prepared as possible “just in case.”

Marty is a Certified Travel Counselor who designs and leads tours. Her travel industry consulting and educational firm is Sarbey Associates (

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industry forecast ❖

Travel Pros Eye the Future As we close the door on 2011, we turn our attention to 2012. Where’s the tour business headed next year? To find out, we asked those at the heart of the industry— association leaders from USTOA, ABA and NTA—for their perspective on how 2012 will shape up.

16 December 2011


ith a membership that spans the globe with diverse products, destinations and experiences, USTOA is in this business not simply to sell travel, but to inspire and motivate others to travel. Our members recognize that travel is proven economic stimulus and, as such, prompts job creation in the US and abroad. The demand in business travel often sets the tone for leisure travel, and so far we have cause for optimism in 2012, with business travel demand on the rise. While it would be wishful thinking to say “we’re out of the woods,” there is a case for optimism, especially with demand in luxury travel and increased consumer confidence. Travelers are also President, USTOA now more willing to pay for luxury amenities, which is a leap forward from 2010. A recent survey in leisure travel trends by Ypartnership showed that “nearly two in three travelers are willing to pay full price if they are guaranteed the quality and service they believe they deserve.” Travelers know they can trust USTOA’s Active Member Tour Operators to deliver authentic experiences safely and securely— both critical benefits for consumers in today’s ever-changing world. This past year, political and natural events had a major impact on travel patterns around the world. Naturally, consumers were wary of traveling to some countries because of these events. USTOA’s Active Member Tour Operators responded swiftly to these events to ensure their guests’ safety and security, and they continue to provide a level of insight as well as timely packages to not just allay consumers’ nervousness but to encourage travel and reward travelers with memorable experiences. The Ypartnership survey also showed that consumers are optimistic and exhibit a “new resourcefulness” and an “unwavering commitment to travel despite economic setbacks.” Whether it’s pentup demand or the continued passion for enriching experiences, an optimistic outlook is encouraging and the members of USTOA will continue to provide rewarding experiences, safely and securely.

The Shape of the Travel Industry in 2012 By Terry Dale


ith 2011 coming to a close and 2012 just around the corner, it is an appropriate time to look back and forward at the same time. Speaking with operators from across the country yields a positive of how 2011 turned out. Many tour and coach operators have said their business was even or ahead of 2010, although some of the reviews were mixed. Some indicated that sales were up, but that was often accompanied by the sentiment that more effort was put in to staying even or that sales were up while profits were down. Nearly everyone noted, with exuberance, that business was better than 2008 and 2009. Regardless of how you President & CEO, ABA look at it, 2011 seemed to be another year where staying even was classified as a WIN! As we enter into the booking cycle for 2012, most operators are optimistic that the New Year will be stronger than last year. Tours and especially motorcoach charters will be ahead of 2011. The concept of “pent-up demand” is beginning to push consumers and groups to making decisions that they may have been putting off for some time. Much still depends on the economy. A stronger economy, or even a steady economy without wild swings and the uncertainty it creates for consumers, will help travel. The weak dollar, which is likely to continue through 2012, will continue to attract overseas travelers seeking tours and travel across North America. While no one can predict exactly what will happen in 2012, early signs are for a good travel season, and the optimism expressed by most operators seems to echo that.

2012 Motorcoach & Group Travel Outlook By Peter Pantuso

As we enter into the booking cycle for 2012, most operators are optimistic that the New Year will be stronger than last year.

December 2011 17

industry forecast â?–


Customize for the Like-Minded Group By Lisa Simon

ecember is Convention month for NTA this year, and if registrations are any indication of the business climate, 2012 will be an uplifting year for packaged travel. NTA tour operators are seeing opportunities for growth through special-interest and affinity markets. People want to travel with people they know—or people who are likeminded—so we’re seeing more products catering to these special groups. At the same time, more consumers want trips customized to their likes and needs. Taken together, these general trends point to a few specifics: As has been the case for many years, people are booking later and taking shorter trips. These tendencies have been accelerated by the aging baby boomers and new senior market, as well as the recent economic climate. Travelers want more hands-on activities, and they travel because of special interests such as bird watching or wine tasting or photography. Smaller groups make these activities

more attractive. More boomers are traveling with tour operators, and they, too, want smaller groups. This is an independent-minded, young-acting population. They want to learn. They want to do. They want those authentic experiences. Another important group to look at is the family traveling together—sometimes the extended family. Families are busy these days, but they still need quality time together. Two additional markets are growing: adventure—from a light hike in a national park to shooting the rapids—and faith-based tourism, everything from a church group traveling together on a vacation, to a mission trip or a trip to the Holy Land. While the global economy has been sluggish, I am optimistic. What has been most encouraging during this economic slowdown is the creativity and diligence NTA members have shown in generating new revenue streams through product development, collaboration and new marketing strategies.

President, NTA

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Association Conferences – At a Glance USTOA The 2011 USTOA Annual Conference & Marketplace will take place from Dec. 11-13 at Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort, Golf Club and Spa in Marco Island, Fla. All activities, both social and professional, are planned to give Supplier Members plenty of opportunities to meet with some of America’s most respected and renowned tour operators. The conference is open only to delegates from Active Member and Supplier Member (Allied and Associate) companies of USTOA. The 2012 conference will be held from Dec. 6-8 at Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Big Island of Hawaii. 212-599-6599, ext 24;

ABA (30614"-&4ʤʥʰ #30"%8":1-";" &-.4'03% /: #090''*$&ʤʥʰ

18 December 2011


ABA’s 2012 Marketplace will take place in Grapevine, Texas from Jan. 6-10. It is a premier business event for the group travel

industry. The appointments, the core of the show, allow buyers and sellers to meet face-to-face in pre-scheduled sevenminute sessions. In addition to the quality appointments, ABA’s Marketplace offers professional education seminars and numerous networking opportunities. ABA’s 2013 conference will be held in Charlotte, N. C. from Jan. 5-9. 202-218-7230,

NTA The National Tour Association’s annual convention is from Dec. 5-9 in Las Vegas, Nev. This annual, all-member convention brings together a diverse group of buyers and sellers. With its all-inclusive format and proven business-building design, NTA’s convention has been described as “a business meeting extraordinaire, designed to maximize the opportunities for networking.� NTA’s next conference is from Jan. 1923, 2013 in Orlando, where it will co-locate with the United Motorcoach Association (UMA). 859-264-6540,

JACOB’S PILLOW DANCE FESTIVAL 80th Anniversary Season June 20-August 28, 2012

Customize your group visit to this National Historic Landmark and world-renowned dance festival: • Discounts and flexible payment plan • Personalized historic tours

Adele Myers and Dancers; photo Karli Cadel

• Group dining • 200 + free performances, talks, & exhibits


Group Sales Coordinator: Toni Bolger 413.243.9919 x132 •

December 2011 19

industry forecast â?–

cindy bertram

A Viking Longship in Passau, Germany

River Cruise Industry

Looks Ahead to


nce a small niche, the river cruise industry has evolved into a mainstay and continues to blossom with new ships, amenities and upgrades. In fact, calmwater cruising is booming. Cindy Bertram of Leisure Group Travel spoke with several river cruise industry leaders to get insights on how river cruising is evolving, why it’s a prime market for groups, extra features and distinct selling points. Participating were Timothy Beebe, vice president, marketing, American Cruise Lines; Patrick Clark, managing director, Avalon Waterways; Richard Marnell, vice president marketing planning, Viking River Cruises; Rudi Schreiner, president, AmaWaterways; and Guy Young, president, Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection. Cindy Bertram: What are key differences between the river cruise experience and ocean cruising that 20 December 2011

Solid Growth group leaders and planners should be aware of? Timothy Beebe: There are several key differences. First, river cruises take guests to unique ports and river towns often inaccessible by other transportation. Due to the smaller size of river cruise ships, the vessels often are able to dock right in the heart of town, with no ushering back and forth on smaller boats from ship to land. Ocean cruising is provided mostly by larger ships. When docked, cruise ship crowds dominate the areas visited; the oversaturation takes away from the true experience of the location visited. River cruising is also extremely calm as the ships cruise calm rivers and inland waterways.

Patrick Clark: River cruises offer an all-inclusive way to explore a destination in comfort. Ships dock in the heart of villages and cities on the rivers, providing easy access for experiencing included shore excursions and exploring sights, dining with locals and enjoying the culture. The majority of Avalon staterooms include floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors/French balconies and the amenities of an upscale resort room. Guests have a wide range of dining options onboard with complimentary choices of wine, beer or soft drinks with dinner. There is nightly music and also local entertainment on selected evenings. Richard Marnell: The cruise concept is the same for both; unpack once


PaTRick claRk

Guy younG

RichaRd maRnell

Avalon Waterways

Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection

Viking River Cruises

TimoThy BeeBe

Rudi SchReineR

American Cruise Lines


Group planners should also know about the features that make our river cruises a great value. We not only offer complimentary daily shore excursions tailored to passengers’ desired walking tastes, but provide complimentary instateroom Internet access, first-run Hollywood movies and a virtual PC; complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the ship for those passengers who wish to bring a laptop or smart phone on board; complimentary bottled water, specialty coffees, wine, beer and soft drinks with

dinner; and guided bicycle tours in a number of destinations.     Guy Young: Guests are constantly surrounded by beautiful scenery. There is no tendering into ports because ships dock in the heart of the destination, another distinct advantage. The river cruise experience is more inclusive. At Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection, for instance, all meals on board and wine with dinner are part of the experience. In 2012, free Internet, complimentary bottled water in the staterooms, and 24-

and sail from port to port. The river cruise experience, however, combines the comfort and convenience of cruising with the ability to visit and explore ports that are not accessible by ocean ship. The ship is the floating hotel, transporting guests from cosmopolitan city to quaint riverside village, with ever-changing scenery all day, every day. The ships are smaller, more intimate, where guests can enjoy the camaraderie of like-minded travelers. River cruising also takes guests to a new port every day, and sometimes two in a day, where they can tour the city or explore on their own. Plus, a Viking River Cruises trip is all-inclusive—accommodations, meals, tours, port charges and more. Rudi Schreiner: Probably the biggest difference is size of the vessels. We are definitely a more intimate experience, carrying approximately 150 passengers on our European ships, as opposed to thousands on most ocean vessels. Our ships journey across the heart of Europe, docking a few steps away from historic sites. This allows for a very immersive cultural experience, quite different from the typical ocean cruise experience of a large industrial port.

December 2011 21

industry forecast ❖ hour specialty coffees and teas will be included, and most importantly, complimentary shore excursions. Overall, the river cruising provides an intimate experience – we have an average of 130 passengers on board. Bertram: Who is the ideal river cruise guest today? Also, average age? Beebe: Today’s river cruiser spans a variety of age groups depending on cruise line, destination and itinerary, but tends to be slightly older in age (45+), affluent, well-educated and well-traveled. Most are avid cruisers, having “graduated” from the contemporary mega-ship lines, and are looking for a more enriching, personalized and intimate experience. Although American Cruise Lines passengers tend to be older in age (55+), we have seen an increase in younger and multi-generational bookings.

Germany’s Rhine River enchants passengers on the Avalon Panorama.

Clark: It is an experienced traveler with reasonable affluence and most likely a past ocean cruiser. The average age has not changed (typically 50- 70). We do, however, see younger clients on shorter, four- to seven-night itineraries and choosing theme cruises such as wine/food, music/jazz or art in France. Marnell: The river cruise guest is 22 December 2011

typically a bit older, averaging 55+ years, well-educated and interested in the destination. They enjoy seeing, exploring and discovering new sights, learning about cultures, and have an interest in the history, arts and culture of where they are traveling. The age range has stayed similar through the years and may have dropped slightly as the baby boomer generation has become more active river cruisers. Schreiner: Anyone can be an ideal guest; we really do attract a wide range of ages and interests. Most of our guests are well-traveled and many have experienced ocean cruising before.  We also attract land tour clients who appreciate in-depth cultural tours, but don’t want to be in a motorcoach all day and a different hotel each night. Our cruises in Europe are attractive to younger cruisers – we offer Active Walker options on many of our shore excursions and have free bikes.  Young: Our core river cruise client today is 55 years old and over. Many are retired or empty nesters who travel extensively.  Ninety percent of all river cruisers are previous ocean cruisers.    Bertram: We’ve seen more river cruise ships being built. What does your line have coming up? Also, what are new features and innovations onboard? Beebe: American Cruise Lines’ brand new 140-passenger authentic sternwheeler, Queen of the Mississippi, debuts Aug. 11, 2012. Her inaugural cruise from New Orleans to Memphis brings back the first brand-new overnight paddlewheeler on the Mississippi in nearly 20 years. Queen of the Mississippi will boast 75 passenger staterooms larger than those on any former Mississippi riverboat, spacious private balconies and all of the amenities today’s travelers expect, while maintaining the elegance and traditional Victorian appearance.

Queen of the Mississippi will operate over the entire Mississippi River system with the option of cruising at significantly higher speeds to make more itineraries possible than ever before, longer visits to river towns and less night traveling. A number of unique seven-, 10-, and 14-day cruises are planned, taking passengers as far north as St. Paul on the Mississippi River and as far east as Pittsburgh on the Ohio River. An authentic paddlewheel supported by Z-drive assist makes for a quicker, smoother and more environmentallyfriendly cruise. The latest communication technology aboard will ensure the best in safety regulations, service efficiency and passenger satisfaction. Clark: In 2012 we are introducing two new ships in Europe and one new ship on the Mekong. In Europe, we have introduced a new class of “Suite” ships. The Avalon Panorama, christened this past May, offers 200-square-foot staterooms with a wall of glass facing the river bank and a seven-foot-wide window that opens, creating an indoor balcony with seating for four. The two new Europe ships will also be the “Panorama” class. Our ships include the “Comfort Collection” bedding, marble bathrooms and L’Occitane bath products. The Avalon Angkor on the Mekong will be a small 32-passenger ship. Due to the shallow draft, the Avalon Angkor is the only one sailing from the city center of Siem Reap, Cambodia to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. But she will include the amenities that guests of Avalon in Europe have come to expect. Marnell: Viking River Cruises is embarking on a $250-million fleet development program. In 2011, we celebrated the launch of Viking Emerald along China’s Yangtze River and Viking Prestige on Europe’s Danube River. In 2012, we will be introducing six new vessels in Europe, which we are collectively

industry forecast ❖ calling the Viking Longships. Viking Aegir, Viking Embla, Viking Freya, Viking Idun, Viking Njord and Viking Odin will sail along the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers next season. Plus, 2012 will mark the last of our Russian vessels being completely refurbished. From bow to stern, the entire inside of each was reconfigured; space was

redefined offering larger staterooms, modern bathroom facilities and elegant public areas. The last of the four ships in our Russia fleet to be refurbished— Viking Peterhof—will have Suites, Junior Suites and Veranda Staterooms. Schreiner: Our brand-new, 124passenger MS AmaLotus just debuted in September, our second ship on the

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Mekong River, and boasts outside balconies in 90 percent of her staterooms. Public areas include a main restaurant serving Asian and Western specialties, Saigon Lounge, gift shop, fitness center and spa, plus a swimming pool and bar on the Sun Deck. The ship also features an English-speaking staff. In spring 2012, we’ll introduce the MS AmaCerto, our largest vessel in Europe and newest Twin Balcony ship. This innovative concept (full step-out balcony plus a French balcony) was introduced in 2010 on the MS AmaBella and is found on the MS AmaVerde. The MS AmaCerto features staterooms and suites up to 350 square feet, a heated swimming pool, multiple dining venues, glass elevator, fitness center and more.  Young: In 2011 we launched the S.S. Antoinette. On the most expensive, luxurious and largest ship in Uniworld’s fleet, extra space was used to introduce new public area features (swimming pool, small movie theater, lounge on the sun deck) and larger staterooms. Topdeck staterooms have an open-air balcony with a touch window that can either be raised or lowered based on the weather. If it is raining or cool, you can simply raise the window to create an enclosed balcony area. All our ships have a unique decor theme and are decorated by the renowned design team from Red Carnation Hotels, a sister company to Uniworld. The uniqueness, original artwork and sheer beauty of our ships set us apart in the marketplace. In 2012 we are launching a new ship on the Mekong doing a Vietnam and Cambodia itinerary. In 2013 we are launching a second ship on the Mekong and will also introduce a new ship in Europe. LGT

online eXcluSiVe

800-728-0724 Deluxe Escorted Holidays 24 December 2011

Our conversation with river cruise executives continues online. See the panel’s answers to additional questions at http://www.leisuregrouptravel .com?p=25857

on student travel ❖

lance harrell

Student/Youth Market Mirrors Future of Travel


hange and innovation have always been championed by youth, and this is true of our industry as well. Therefore, trends in the student and youth travel market are often good indicators of things to come in other sectors of the travel industry. So just what is going on in the student and youth travel market? According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, youth travel now accounts for more than 190 million international trips a year. This figure is estimated to grow, in response to higher living standards and an increase in youth travelers from developing countries, to 300 million by 2020. Young people travel for a variety of reasons including education, expanding their social circle, experiencing new cultures, career development and straight up bragging rights. They tend to be pioneers in discovering new destinations and are early adopters and heavy users of new technology. All of these areas offer opportunities for future growth in the youth travel marketplace and one of the most important factors in tapping into this market is the final item mentioned − technology. Young people are always on the move, and there is one thing that is usually on the move with them − their smart phone. Youth are now more likely to own a mobile phone than a book. By 2014 it is estimated that more users will connect to the Internet via a mobile device than by a computer. In 2011, there


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December 2011 25

on student travel ❖ for Social, Local, Mobile and essentially means that users want instant access to locally relevant information from wherever they are and they want to be able to share that information with their social circle. Consider the following scenario, taken from a real example, that I believe is a good indicator of things to come: A student arrives in a new city and wants to find a place to stay. She pulls out her iPhone and performs a local search for hostels in the area. The search reveals several, their locations clearly marked on Google Maps. She sees that one of the hostels has a mobile friendly website and thus views it for more information. On the website, there is a link to a free mobile application for the hostel that allows her to book and pay for a room directly from her phone, as well as providing independent reviews and comments from previous patrons. She also sees that there is a live video feed from the hostel’s common area and clicks to see how lively the scene is. While viewing the live feed, she can read through the schedule of events taking place at the hostel and surrounding area, and sees that a nearby restaurant offers a discount to people staying at the hostel. After deciding to book a room and have dinner at the restaurant, the GPS system in the phone detects her current location, accesses Google Maps and pro(Photo courtesy of 2011 © Tyler Olson. Image from

was a 400% increase in mobile searches over the previous year and 42% of 1834-year-olds research and share purchases via social media. What does this all mean for you? If you want to successfully tap into the youth travel market, you have to be on the cutting edge of technology. Student and youth travelers are all about the SoLoMo revolution. SoLoMo stands

A double-decker bus takes students across the Golden Gate Bridge.

vides her with detailed directions to the hostel as well the best mode of transit to take. Upon arriving, using the social networking functionality of the mobile app, she directly updates her Facebook, Twitter and FourSquare status to let her friends know where she is. This may sound a little fantastical, but this is all technology in use today. Youth travel is a recession-resistant, expanding market in the global travel industry, offering many opportunities for development. However, whether you are an operator, destination or agent, you will need to understand and develop your SoLoMo profile to compete successfully. As famously stated by H.G. Wells, “Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature’s inexorable imperative.” LGT

Order your copy of the 2012 Student Travel Planning Guide @

26 December 2011

on location: midwest â?–

Nationally famous attractions and a mother lode of unexpected delights await groups in this truly monumental state


South Dakota


Falls Park in Sioux Falls showcases the Big Sioux River cascades that give South Dakota’s largest city its name.

when a ranger talk and stirring movie are followed by the playing of the National Anthem and floodlighting of the faces, stark white against the starry Dakota sky. Touched emotionally, many leave with a tear in their eye or a lump in their throat. Even as you depart, you’ll find yourself glancing back for one final look. Mount Rushmore may be the face of South Dakota tourism and a must-see on any group itinerary, but hidden surprises abound within the state’s borders—and they’re not all in the popular Black Hills region. The astounding collection of rare instruments at a museum in Vermillion is the envy of music institutions worldwide. A tour of a Hutterite colony will remind you of Amish enclaves to the east. Admire the works of one of America’s favorite artists at his

Photos Courtesy of South Dakota Department of Tourism

arved into a granite peak in the Black Hills of Western South Dakota, it’s been called the “Shrine of Democracy” ever since the phrase was coined during the 1930 dedication of George Washington’s head. His 60-foot-high visage was followed by the chiseled faces of three other U.S. presidents—Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt—in a herculean, 14-year project undertaken by sculptor Gutzon Borglum and a team of 400 workers. Mount Rushmore National Memorial, so much a part of our national identity, is almost a cliché. But even the most jaded come away in awe of the carving’s sheer size, its artistic splendor and the lofty ideals it embodies. Most inspiring is the patriotic pageantry on summer nights in the amphitheater,

The exotic Corn Palace in Mitchell is one of America’s true folk art icons. 28 December 2011

hometown gallery. Or how about sampling fruits of the vine at a South Dakota winery? South Dakota, our 16th largest state, stretches 380 miles from east to west, from the tabletop flatness of the eastern farmlands to the forested hills and ranch country of the west. Dividing the state approximately in half is the mighty Missouri River, prized by outdoors-minded vacationers for its huge reservoirs, known as South Dakota’s Great Lakes. In the eyes of many travelers and tour planners, South Dakota tourism is heavily weighted toward the Black Hills and Badlands National Park in the west. Besides the plethora of natural and manmade attractions, the region’s compactness is another plus. Most points of interest are within two hours of each other. The fifth granite face in the Black Hills appears in the form of the famous Lakota leader Crazy Horse. The Crazy Horse Memorial, a work in progress since 1948, is the world’s largest mountain carving and eventually will show the fierce warrior astride a horse; a visitor complex features the Indian Museum of North America. At Custer State Park, a nearby crowd-pleaser, Jeep safaris venture into the backcountry for closeup looks at one of the nation’s largest publicly-owned buffalo herds. In the southern Black Hills, near Hot Springs, groups can tour The

Custer State Park, in the Black Hills of South Dakota, abounds with recreational as well as sightseeing options.

moth Site, a working paleontological site and museum, and mingle with wild mustangs at Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary. Not far away is Wind Cave National Park, which offers tours of the world’s fourth-longest cave system. Rapid City (pop. 59,610), the state’s second largest city, makes a good base camp for touring the Black Hills and is 45 minutes from Mount Rushmore. Besides offering more than 4,000 guest rooms, Rapid City has a number of group-friendly attractions itself. The Journey Museum spotlights the natural history and culture of the Black Hills, with excellent exhibits on pioneer life, Sioux arts and crafts, and even a planetarium program in the theater. At a drive-through park called Bear Country U.S.A., groups can see a variety of

wildlife, including elk, bison, wolves and black bears. Reptile Gardens is reputedly the world’s largest reptile repository. Rapid City is 90 minutes away from Badlands National Park. Both barren and beautiful, the park presents a stark, eerie moonscape of deep gorges, jagged spires and bands of colorful rocks. Visitors may see buffalo, mule deer, pronghorn and prairie dogs. The old Black Hills mining town of Deadwood, an hour north of Mount Rushmore, has emerged as a group tourism hotspot since small-stakes gaming became legal there in 1989. In the past two decades, more than $220 million has been invested in this quaint Victorian town tucked in a gold-filled gulch, making Deadwood one of the

This Watertown attraction displays the wildlife paintings of Terry Redlin.



Capital: Pierre Population: 814,180 (2010 Census) Nickname: The Mount Rushmore State Bird: Chinese Ring-necked Pheasant Dessert: Kuchen Flower: Pasque Animal: Coyote Fish: Walleye Insect: Honey Bee Tree: Black Hill Spruce Song: Hail, South Dakota Sport: Rodeo Motto: Under God the People Rule

largest historic preservation projects in the nation. Old storefronts and warehouses are now casinos, restaurants and hotels. Visitors to Deadwood, once known as the wildest and woolliest town in the West, discover brick-paved streets, intriguing museums and Main Street shootouts, not to mention parades, rodeos and other special events. Tourists can take underground tours at Broken Boot Gold Mine and visit the graves of Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok at Mount Moriah Cemetery (Boot Hill). The town’s newest pride and joy is Deadwood Mountain Grand, a casino, restaurant and concert hall that opened this past summer in a converted slime plant that processed gold ore. Musical acts have included Charlie Daniels and the Oak Ridge Boys. December 2011 29

The fall roundup of the famed bison herd at Custer State Park is one of South Dakota’s top spectator events.

EASTERN SOUTH DAKOTA Tourist spots in Eastern South Dakota may not be as nationally famous, but there are treasures waiting to be discovered. In De Smet, the “Little Town on the Prairie,” groups can visit homes that inspired author Laura Ingalls Wilder’s beloved “Little House” series. The Ingalls Homestead offers covered wagon rides and hands-on pioneering activities. Watertown (pop. 20,237) is home to another famous South Dakotan, Terry Redlin, one of the most widely collected painters of wildlife and Americana. The imposing Redlin Art Center, a colonialstyle, four-story brick building supported by 24 granite columns, offers a video presentation and displays more than 150 of his original oil paintings. The Aberdeen CVB can arrange tours of a Hutterite colony, offering groups a chance to meet the people of a self-sustaining farm community that makes its own clothing, crafts its own furniture and generates its own electricity. Visitors can witness the Hutterites’ farming operations, see their schoolhouses and watch them sew perfectly pleated skirts. In the southeast, Sioux Falls, near the border with Minnesota and Iowa, is South Dakota’s largest city (pop. 156,500). Located on the Big Sioux River at the junction of I-90 and I-29, it’s the commercial hub for the whole region. Falls Park, near the downtown dis30 December 2011

trict, has a triple waterfall, five-story viewing tower and a summer sound and light show that presents the cultural heritage of Sioux Falls. Other attractions include Sertoma Butterfly House and Great Plains Zoo & Delbridge Museum of Natural History. Mitchell, an hour east of Sioux Falls on I-90, boasts one of America’s true folk art icons—the Corn Palace. Topped with whimsical onion domes and minarets, the Moorish-style building pays homage to South Dakota’s agricultural heritage and is decorated every year with interior and exterior murals made from corn, grasses and grains. Tours of the fanciful 1892 landmark, originally built for farmers to showcase the fruits of their harvest, are available. In the state’s southeastern corner, on

The grave of Wild Bill Hickok in Deadwood’s Mount Moriah Cemetery.

the campus of the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, is the National Music Museum, the premier institution of its kind. The global collection of some 15,000 musical instruments spans five centuries and represents virtually every culture and historical period. Rare items range from zithers and harpsichords to Stradivari violins and guitars. Pierre, the capital of South Dakota, lies smack dab in the middle of the state. Prime options for groups in this delightful city of 14,000 include a Capital City Queen cruise that visits Missouri River sites associated with Lewis & Clark. Tours of the powerhouse at Oahe Dam show how the water in Lake Oahe is harnessed to generate electricity. ChrisaMari Vineyards invites groups to tour and taste. Other attractions in Pierre (pronounced “peer”) include the South Dakota State Capitol and South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center. Aside from the awesome sights in this all-American state, a solid tourism infrastructure, along with a state tourism department providing an array of group services, makes South Dakota a tour planner’s dream. The state’s hefty “Group Tour Planning Guide” is a gold mine of information, offering a rich sampling of the potential routes and themes that can be mixed and matched to build the perfect tour in this land of Great Faces and Great Places. LGT


SOUTH DAKOTA , groups of all sizes can make endless

memories when they explore our Great Faces and Great Places. Groups will find boundless adventure in the Black Hills and Custer State Park; be awestruck by the grand scale and beauty of Mount Rushmore National Memorial and Crazy Horse Memorial; imagine history at Fort Sisseton Historic State Park; and witness centuries-old cultural traditions along the Oyate Trail and the Native American Scenic Byway. Whatever your groups envision, they’ll find South Dakota to be the tour of a lifetime.

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W W W.T O U R S D A K O T A . C O M














1 • 8 0 0 • 9 5 2 •3 6 2 5


W W W.T O U R S D A K O T A .C O M







GROUP TOUR PLANNING ASSISTANCE Vicky Engelhaupt South Dakota Department of Tourism 1-800-952-3625 |

SOUTH DAKOTA MOTORCOACH SERVICES wash, dispose, fuel, maintenance

Dakota Bus | 605-642-2353 | Grayline: Black Hills | 800-456-4461 | Interstate Betroit Diesel | 800-348-3042 | Windmill Truck Stop | 605-348-7070

on location: midwest ❖

Groups of all kinds, not just hard-core birders, enjoy one of mid-America’s great annual wildlife spectacles

Central Nebraska’s Crane Convention

Nebraska DED Photos


undled in layers of thermal clothing, your feet tucked into warm boots, you find yourself shivering in the early-morning darkness inside a quiet wooden shack. As you wrap the fleece blanket tighter around you—your Thermos of coffee and binoculars nearby—you may ask yourself what you are doing in the middle of Nebraska in the pre-dawn of an early spring day. Then, you hear it. It starts slowly—as a quiet roar—and builds to an unimaginable volume. As the sun crawls over the horizon bringing first light, the deafening sound is joined by a breathtaking sight: thousands upon thousands of sandhill cranes waking up, shuffling about and calling out in their plaintive, trilling call. Soon, throngs of the majestic birds take flight, darkening the early morning sky. It is an astounding wildlife spectacle that can only be truly appreciated in person. Each year between late February and mid-April, more than a half million sandhill cranes descend on the Platte River Valley in Central Nebraska to rest and recharge en route to their summer breeding grounds in Canada, Alaska and Siberia. The cranes—a species in existence for more than nine million years— are drawn to the valley’s abundant food and shelter from predators. Feeding on waste corn found in nearby fields, the cranes will gain up to a pound of weight during their stay in Nebraska. It is weight the birds will use to complete the final portion of their northern migration. Without it, the journey would be impossible. During the six-week period, nearly 80 percent of the world’s sandhill crane population passes through the area. In addition to cranes, more than 10 million ducks and geese, majestic bald eagles and possibly the endangered whooping crane migrate through the area. December 2011 35

Wildlife Viewing in Nebraska roups traveling to Nebraska for the sandhill crane migration should seize the opportunity to discover other wildlife and explore the natural beauty of the state. Hundreds of American bald eagles call Nebraska home. Viewing spots include: • Kingsley Dam Eagle Viewing Facility at Lake McConaughy near Ogallala. • Gavin’s Point Dam and Lewis & Clark State Recreation Area near Crofton. • Nebraska Public Power District’s J-2 Hydroplant south of Lexington. For details, visit guides/migration/eagles.asp


American white pelicans begin returning from their winter feeding grounds along the U.S. Gulf Coast to take up temporary residence at Harlan County Reservoir near Republican City.

on location: midwest ❖ The cranes, in turn, draw thousands of spectators from around the world to experience this amazing scene. A crane tour will likely involve some brushes with wintery weather and probably isn’t for the group that enjoys sleeping in and reading the paper over coffee before starting the day. However, don’t think this trip is only for serious birders. The sandhill crane migration is a chance to marvel at the wonders of nature and can include as much, or as little, birding as a group desires. Begin the tour by heading to Grand Island or Kearney to give your group a bird’s-eye view of this phenomenon. Visitors can observe the largest concentration of cranes during morning or evening blind tours when the cranes are leaving and returning to their river roosts. Morning trips begin before dawn, 36 December 2011

Arrival dates can be as early as late February up through early April. ( Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge near Oshkosh has the third most documented number of bird species in the country. Observe sharp-tailed grouse on their dancing ground throughout April, while peak songbird migration occurs mid-May. ( Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge south of Valentine is home to the Great Plains bison, the black-tailed prairie dog and elk. View wildlife up-close in a drive-through exhibition pasture. ( Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Conservation Park and Safari near Ashland is a fourmile, drive-through exhibit open April through October. Visitors feel like they’re on an actual safari, coming face-to-face with elk, white-tailed deer, bison, pronghorn antelope, wolves and waterfowl. ( Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center south of Lincoln includes more than 350 plant species and 170 bird species on more than 600 acres of rare, native tall grass prairie, springs, wetlands and ponds. (

as viewers have to be in the blinds before the sun rises, and evening trips start before sunset. The blinds, unheated wooden structures with rectangular viewing holes, provide panoramic views of large flocks of cranes. The Nebraska Nature & Visitor Center near Grand Island offers guided blind tours, guided sunset tours on its footbridge, an interpretive center, nature trails and a 35-foot-tall observation tower. Your group can also reserve guided blind tours at the Rowe Sanctuary and Iain Nicolson Audubon Center near Kearney. This wildlife sanctuary has exceptional educational displays and an indoor viewing area. Fort Kearny Recreational Area provides a different viewing experience at sunrise or sunset. An old railroad bridge spans the river, allowing you to watch cranes as they fly overhead.

Day-time excursions can be planned and offer the opportunity to see the cranes feeding, preening and dancing in the fields. Avid birders may want to observe the prairie chicken spring courtship rituals. Male prairie chickens, found in the grasslands of Central Nebraska, perform an intriguing courtship display characterized by stomping feet, towering leaps and resonant booming noises. Other travelers may want to learn more about the cranes at any number of art exhibitions, museum displays, events and festivals, including the 42nd annual Rivers and Wildlife Celebration from March 15-18—the nation’s longest running wildlife festival. Some groups may get their fill of birds after viewing the cranes. Fortunately, the area boasts many appealing attractions. Visit Grand Island to experience pioneer life at the Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer, which includes an 1890s railroad town. Grand Island has a variety of art galleries, specialty stores and interesting restaurants such as Sin City—where the burgers are sinful. Fort Kearny State Historical Park, a good place for crane viewing, appeals to military history buffs. Located on the

The Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer preserves Nebraska’s past.

site of an Oregon Trail that housed Pony Express and stagecoach stations, it features a recreated stockade with parade ground, sod blacksmith shop and powder magazine. Be sure to schedule a stop at Kearney’s Great Platte River Road Archway, the only tourist attraction in the nation located over a federal interstate highway. The Archway commemorates westward expansion of America, including the West’s original American Indian habitants; the Mormon, Oregon, and California Trails; the early pioneers; the modern railroad; and the Lincoln Highway. Kearney is also home to the Museum of Nebraska Art. The museum’s permanent collection includes more than 5,000 works by artists of regional, national and international importance. Your group might consider a side trip

Great Platte River Road Archway chronicles America’s trek westward.

Dream. The museum also boasts the largest whooping crane display in the United Sates. As you plan a tour, keep in mind that the sandhill crane migration is more than a tourist attraction; it is also essential to the birds’ survival. Bird watchers must take particular care not to disrupt the cranes during the critical layover in Nebraska. Cranes can’t tolerate human contact, so they shouldn’t be approached. So pack your warmest boots, your winter gear, your camera and your spirit for adventure as you prepare to experience one of the world’s natural wonders unfolding in Central Nebraska. LGT

to the Hastings Museum of Natural and Cultural History, where visitors can learn the story of the birth of one of America’s favorite soft drinks in the interactive exhibit Kool-Aid: Discover the



Obtain Nebraska visitor guides and itineraries – and contact groupfriendly suppliers directly – at


7JTJU/FCSBTLBHPWr888-444-1867, Dept. 2LGA

the magic of road trips past. And with all this history to experience, you’ll be inspired to relive great memories—and even make some new ones.

Nebraska Department of Economic Development’s Division of Travel and Tourism

December 2011 37

on location: midwest â?–

randy mink

Menno-Hof in Shipshewana sheds light on the Amish and Mennonite lifestyles.

Best of Northern Indiana Groups can climb sand dunes, mingle with the Amish, watch cheese being made and tour Notre Dame University


rom waves pounding the sandy shores of Lake Michigan and the ringing of casino slot machines to the rhythmic clip-clopping of Amish buggies rattling down the road, the sounds of Indiana’s

northern tier beckon tour groups. Tucked between metropolitan Chicago and the borders with Michigan and Ohio, cities and rural areas are packed with group-friendly attractions, shopping opportunities, pockets of natural beauty and places to commune with the past. Many tourist favorites are a short drive from Interstate 80/90.

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Fair Oaks Farms

Northwest Indiana’s Lake County, just a half hour from downtown Chicago, abounds with affordable places to stay and boasts three casinos fronting Lake Michigan—Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Majestic Star Casino and Hotel in Gary and Ameristar Casino & Hotel in East Chicago—all with live entertainment, gourmet steakhouses and expansive buffets. Fair Oaks Farms Adventure Center is another Lake County hotspot for groups. One of the nation’s largest dairies, it is home to 30,000 cows that produce four million glasses of milk a day. Besides enjoying interactive exhibits and a 4-D movie, visitors see the milking

For an enlightening and uplifting experience, church groups might consider the Shrine of Christ’s Passion in St. John, about 35 miles from downtown Chicago. Pilgrims along the Prayer Trail encounter 40 life-size bronze statues that depict the Passion of Jesus Christ from the Last Supper and Garden of Gethsemane to the Stations of the Cross. Music plays along the trail, and each stop has a listening station describing the scene. Miles of beaches fringe the Indiana shores of Lake Michigan’s southern tip, stretching from Chicago to New Buffalo, Mich. Impressive sand dunes invite hikers to explore at Indiana Dunes

from the mall, showcases the opulence enjoyed by John H. Barker, who made his fortune in freight cars at the turn of the 20th century. More of the area’s past is on display at the La Porte County Historical Society Museum in La Porte. The spacious, three-level brick building has antique cars, a vast collection of rare firearms and 14 period rooms that range from a pioneer log cabin to a 1950s living room. South Bend, home to the University of Notre Dame, offers groups a variety of options on campus and off. Learn about the university’s rich traditions and current student life on free, 90-minute tours that begin with a video presenta-

The La Porte County Historical Society Museum (left) is well known for its collection of antique cars. Four casinos on the southern shore of Lake Michigan make Northern Indiana one of the Midwest’s top gaming centers.

process firsthand on a bus tour of the farm. A popular stop is the Birthing Barn, where 80 calves are born each day. The Cheese Factory complex, famed for its grilled cheese sandwiches, houses an ice cream parlor, gift shop and cafe overlooking cheese-making and milk-bottling facilities. Candy making takes center stage at Albanese Candy Factory and Outlet Store in Hobart. It offers thousands of candies at wholesale prices, the world’s tallest chocolate fall, and an up-close look at the manufacture of its chocolates and “World’s Best” gummi candies.

State Park in Chesterton, a popular swimming hole with an old-time bathhouse. The state park is part of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, a protected ecosystem with marshes, bogs, ponds, 15 miles of beaches and 45 miles of trails, boasts majestic dunes that shift with the wind and soil deposits. The largest dune, 126-foot-high Mount Baldy (near Michigan City), moves four to five feet south from the lake each year. Michigan City is home to Blue Chip Casino, Hotel & Spa and the 120-store Lighthouse Place Premium Outlets. Barker Mansion, a block

tion. The walking tours include the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, a masterpiece of neo-Gothic splendor with one of the largest collections of 19th century French stained glass in the world. South Bend’s Studebaker National Museum features horse-drawn and motorized vehicles once manufactured at the city’s Studebaker plant. On display are carriages used by U.S. presidents, including the one Lincoln rode to Ford’s Theatre. South Bend Chocolate Company offers tours of its factory, along with free samples, a movie, a shop, a nostalgia-filled chocolate museum December 2011 39

on location: midwest ❖ with rare artifacts and space for groups to have lunch. Amish traditions thrive in towns like Nappanee, Middlebury, Goshen, Wakarusa and Shipshewana, where hearty foods and one-of-a-kind crafts tempt visitors. Amish Acres Historic Farm & Heritage Resort in Nappanee serves up a full plate of sightseeing, shopping and dining, with a nighttime theater performance to top it all off. Craft demonstrations include lye soap and broom making, rug weaving and quilting, plus seasonal activities like maple syrup, cider, apple butter and sorghum molasses making. Films discuss Amish history and customs. A highlight at Amish Acres is an all-you-can-eat meal under the handhewn timbers of a century-old barn. The family-style Threshers Dinner features fried chicken, ham and roast beef,

The Shrine of Christ’s Passion brings groups to St. John, Indiana.

plus thick ham and bean soup, hearthbaked bread with apple butter, mashed potatoes, giblet gravy, sage dressing, beef and noodles, and sweet and sour cabbage salad. Save room for shoofly or peanut butter pie. Menno-Hof, a barn-shaped museum in Shipshewana, brings to life the story of the Amish and Mennonite people of Northern Indiana. The Tornado Theater replicates the power of a tor-

G Groups Gr savor our Hoosier hospitality. H Int Interactive tours, delicious food, unique sh shopping and original entertainment. Ve ent Venture to Brown County, Indiana….. c ca all today t call for your Group Packet!

ILoveBrownCounty ILuvBrownCounty 80 800.753.3255 | 40 December 2011

nado and explains how Amish and Mennonite crews respond to cleanup efforts following disasters. Shipshewana is best known for the Shipshewana Flea Market. Held every Tuesday and Wednesday from May through October, it is the Midwest’s largest flea market. Fort Wayne (pop. 300,000), close to the Ohio border, is Indiana’s second largest city and abounds with groupfriendly attractions. Some of the finest chocolate in the country is made at DeBrand Chocolatier, which offers tours of its kitchens. After a short video, guests get a chance to peek through the windows and perhaps see caramel pretzel bars being enrobed in chocolate or the production of gelato in flavors like sweet potato, apricot, orange peel and marzipan. Samples are given out along the way. Relax over coffee or hot chocolate in the elegant, wood-trimmed cafe. Parkview Field, home of minor league baseball’s TinCups, is the jewel of downtown Fort Wayne. The SingleA affiliate of the San Diego Padres draws 400,000 fans a year to the retrostyle brick ballpark, one of the most popular minor league stadiums in the country since it opened in 2009. Other downtown gems include the Embassy Theatre, a restored 1920s movie palace/vaudeville house, and FoellingerFreiman Botanical Conservatory. For just the right combination of city lights and country sights, Northern Indiana has all the ingredients for a wellrounded trip. Your groups will find dozens of places pleasing to the eye and to the palate. Toss in a dose of nostalgia and you’ve got a winning itinerary, whether for a week or a weekend. LGT Obtain Indiana visitor guides and itineraries – and contact groupfriendly suppliers directly – at







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on location: northeast ❖


ucked along the East Coast, Maryland offers group travelers a boatload of cultural opportunities and lessons in national history. And what better way to experience the state’s heritage and personality than including one of its countless events and festivals in your next mid-Atlantic itinerary. Many of these local events have been in existence for decades, attesting to their worth as trip enhancers. Whether you’ve got Maryland on your radar for winter or warmer months, the state has countless fairs and festivals that will keep your groups entertained.

Jousting, the state sport of Maryland, takes center stage at the Maryland Renaissance Festival in Annapolis.

kari kamin

WINTER The North American Craft Show, a longstanding staple in Ocean City, marks its 25th year on Jan. 14-15, 2012. Admission gets you into its sister show, the Nautical & Wildlife Art Festival, conveniently located in the same building. The art and craft mediums are extensive and attract artists from many different states and nearly 6,000 people. (410-524-9177) The 11th annual World of Pets Expo will be taking place Jan. 27-29 at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium, near Baltimore. Whether

they own a pet or enjoy offering a good head scratch, animals lovers of all kinds gather to watch performances, attend seminars, or browse merchandise for their favorite pet or pet owner. Well-trained pets are welcome (if kept on a leash), but not required. (410374-5964, The Maryland Home and Garden Show comes to the Maryland State Fairgrounds on March 3-4 and 10-11. Look for home improvement ideas in the show’s 400-some exhibits and learn about the latest products. (410-8631180,

Maryland Celebrates Year-Round Crafts, music, seafood and history flavor group-friendly annual events in Baltimore, Annapolis and beyond

42 December 2011

Das Best Oktoberfest in National Harbor brings out the German in everyone.

SPRING The Maryland Film Festival will be held in Baltimore during the weekend of May 3-6. This noncompetitive film festival screens international films in various locations, encouraging filmgoers to view movies as both art and entertainment. Filmmakers often attend, so bring your autograph books. (410752-8083, Your groups can view some of the most elegant and impressive yachts when United States Yacht Shows presents the Bay Bridge Boat Show April 19-22 in Annapolis. The event will feature seminars and demonstrations as well as a “guess the fish’s weight” competition. (410-268-8828, Ever wondered how to use a medieval crossbow? Find out safely at Steppingstone Museum’s Medieval Days Encampment on May 12-13 in Havre de Grace. There will be arts and crafts, period dance and music, and equestrian games. (410-939-2299, The 17th annual Western Maryland Blues Fest takes place May 31June 4 in downtown Hagerstown and City Park. Be a part of the festivities as Hagerstown celebrates this distinctly

American style of music as performed by nationally known blues artists. (301739-8577, SUMMER Kick off your summer with the StarSpangled Spectacular 2012 from June 13-19 in Baltimore. The weeklong event, sponsored by the U.S. Navy and Operation Sail, observes the 200th anniversary of the U.S. declaration of war against Great Britain. The event’s theme—“Our Flag Was Still There”— commemorates the struggles and triumph of the War of 1812 and Francis

Scott Key’s writing of the Star-Spangled Banner while Baltimore’s harbor was under attack. Explore tall ships and a vast, international fleet of war ships from over 25 countries and mingle with the sailors. This group-friendly, once-in-alifetime event will feature an air show by the Blue Angels, musical performances and other landside festivities, plus fireworks on Flag Day ( June 14). Water taxis will be available so your group can travel from one area of the harbor to the other. One- to three-hour boat cruises will coincide with special events like the ships’ arrival and departure, Blue Angels show and fireworks. Ships will be staged in Baltimore’s famed Inner Harbor, Fell’s Point, Canton and Locust Point. (410767-6974, The Dundalk Heritage Fair boasts the largest parade in Maryland. The festival will take place June 29-July 1, with a special fireworks celebration on July 4. While this year’s festivities are still pending, last year’s events included live music, pig races and a magician. (410284-4022, Seafood fans head to Havre de Grace Seafood Festival from Aug. 10-12 in Havre de Grace, a city located on Chesapeake Bay. Besides crab cakes, shrimp, scallops and other fruits of the sea, the

Artscape, set for July 20-22, is one of Baltimore’s biggest summer events. December 2011 43

on location: northeast ❖ An experience worth sharing.

Ocean City, Maryland Group Tours. Plan a group trip everyone will love. Explore nature or enjoy a historic Heritage Tour. Indulge in our unique shops and outlets. Offering entertainment and dining choices as vast as our 10 miles of award-winning beaches, you can’t help but have a great time. For planning materials and assistance, contact the Group Tour & Travel Coordinator at 800-626-2326 or

44 December 2011

festival offers live entertainment and arts and crafts. ( Billing itself as the largest free arts festival in America, the 31st annual Artscape will take place in Baltimore on July 20-22. Whether you prefer paintings or sculpture, performance art or street art, theater or opera, there will be something for everyone at Artscape with nearly 175 exhibitors on 12 city blocks. (877-225-8466, The 45th Maryland Seafood Festival at Sandy Point State Park, on the northwestern shore of Chesapeake Bay near Annapolis, takes place at the end of the summer and offers an extensive menu as well as chef demonstrations, a crab soup cook-off and crab cake eating contest. Not a fan of crab, shrimp, oysters, clams or rockfish? There are other food options available. Live music and arts and crafts also are featured. (443926-1464,

One of the state’s most popular events, the Maryland State Fair in Timonium, comes around in late August and early September, offering livestock, crafts, farm and garden exhibits and midway rides, not to mention Thoroughbred horse racing and jousting, the official state sport of Maryland. (410252-0200, The 65th National Hard Crab Derby in Crisfield takes place next Labor Day weekend. Festivities kick off on Thursday night with a carnival, but be sure and get plenty of rest for the early morning crab cooking contest. Other events include a street parade, live music, a crab picking contest, and of Obtain Maryland visitor guides and itineraries – and contact groupfriendly suppliers directly – at

pah bands and classic German food like potato pancakes, schnitzel and sausages. Maryland Brewer’s Oktoberfest, the largest beer fest in Baltimore, offers similar festivities Oct. 13 at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium, with Best Beer Belly and Carry Your Wife contests thrown in for good measure. (,

Enjoy apple fritters, apple cider, apple cake and candy apples at the annual Darlington Apple Festival, always on the first Saturday in October in the quaint village of Darlington in Northeast Maryland. This harvest fest also includes stage entertainment and hundreds of crafters. (410-457-4189, LGT

The Maryland Film Festival in May draws movie buffs to Baltimore.

course, the crab derby itself. The upstairs of Tawes Museum will shine a spotlight on photographs of crab races from past derbies. Close out the weekend with a fireworks show. (410-9682500, FALL Step back in time at the Maryland Renaissance Festival in Annapolis. Next year’s edition begins Aug. 24 and runs for nine weeks every weekend, ending in October. There will be plenty to do and see with stage and street acts, vendors, jousts and musicians to swell your Renaissance spirit. Willing festivalgoers are encouraged to partake in the fun and wear family-friendly costumes. (800-296.7304, There’s no better place to celebrate Oktoberfest than Maryland. At Das Best Oktoberfest (Sept. 22-23 in National Harbor) you’ll feel like you’re in Germany with over 80 different beers, 15 of which come straight from breweries in Maryland. The festival will feature oom-

ONLINE EXCLUSIVE See the article on Fort McHenry National Monument in Baltimore. Log on to /?p=25806.

December 2011 45


on location: west â?&#x2013; very February and March, Major League Baseball players flock to the Valley of the Sun to prepare for another season of baseball. Professional baseball has had a presence in Arizona since the early 1900s when minor league teams frequently

sue arko

stopped there to play exhibition games before their regular season. It has progressed over the years and continues to grow. Currently, 15 teams and 10 first-class Cactus League stadiums draw large numbers of fans and provide significant economic impact to Arizona cities. These cities roll out the red

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

The boys of summer lure groups to Arizona for springtime fun in the sun

The San Francisco Giants play the Arizona Diamondbacks at Scottsdale Stadium.

46 December 2011

carpet to groups following their favorite teams while enjoying Arizona’s sunshine, world-class attractions, dining options and fabulous shopping. Surrounded by the scenic landscapes of the Sonoran Desert, Greater Phoenix provides the excitement of the Old West within a thriving metropolitan area brimming with cultural and outdoor activity. The Cactus League contributes more than $350 million to Arizona’s economy. The training facilities draw the teams and the teams draw the fans. The stadiums are attractions in themselves and all do tours for groups. Stadiums and their teams: Camelback Ranch, Glendale – Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers Maryvale Baseball Park, Maryvale – Milwaukee Brewers Peoria Sports Complex, Peoria – San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, Salt River Pima Indian Reservation – Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies Surprise Recreation Campus, Surprise – Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers Goodyear Ballpark, Goodyear – Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds Hohokam Stadium, Mesa – Chicago Cubs Phoenix Municipal Stadium, Phoenix – Oakland A’s Scottsdale Stadium, Scottsdale – San Francisco Giants Tempe Diablo Stadium, Tempe – Angels Baseball In addition, Chase Field in downtown Phoenix, the regular season home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, provides tours, including the right field swimming pool, fountains and indoor picnic area. When planning a spring training tour, plan to visit the Arizona Historical Society Museum at Papago Park in

The Cincinnati Reds meet the Cleveland Indians at Goodyear Ballpark.

Tempe. Through March of 2013 it will host Play Ball: The Cactus League Experience, an exhibit that provides a nostalgic look at Cactus League history. With so many teams and Valley destinations to choose from, how do groups decide on a host city and itinerary? It’s an easy solution if the group is from a certain city or follows a certain team. But if this is not the case, former NTA chairman and big-time baseball fan Bob Hoelscher has a few words of wisdom for fellow tour operators. Hoelscher feels that Surprise’s stadium and Goodyear Ballpark are good choices because they have a more intimate atmosphere than some of the larger stadiums. It is easier to get up-close and personal with players. Additionally, Hoelscher recommends the Peoria stadium because hotels, shopping and dining are all within walking distance of the ballpark. Soon the Chicago Cubs will have the same opportunity in Mesa with the opening of a new stadium that includes an adjacent retail and entertainment development called Wrigleyville West. Developers hope to lure Chicago-area businesses to the site. Mesa also will be opening a “Cactus League Trail” with two or three baseball exhibits. Sites will be the Mesa City Hall lobby, Mesa Convention & Visitors Bureau lobby and Hohokam Stadium. Completion dates for these projects are not known at this time. While in Mesa, groups will want to check out the Diamond Sports Grille (formerly owned by Cubs broadcaster

Well-supplied vendors – a sure sign the baseball season has begun.

Harry Caray). Located several blocks from the stadium, the place is alive with Cub fans after the game. Fans can check out Cubs, White Sox, Bears, Bulls and Blackhawk memorabilia. It is like never leaving Chicago. Scottsdale Stadium also is surrounded by shopping and dining options. It was the end of an era when owner Gwen Briley closed The Pink Pony Restaurant in 2009 after a slow summer in the midst of the recession. Located just blocks from the ballpark, this Scottsdale Old Town institution was long known as a hangout for baseball’s creme de la creme, who would fill the place during Cactus League season to eat steaks and drink martinis. Now, The Pink Pony is on the verge of a comeback, thanks to new owners. For those wanting to get away from all the action around Old Town Scottsdale after the game but keep the sports December 2011 47

on location: west ❖ DESTINATION


David Bradley (Chippewa), “The Tradition Lives On,” 2008 PHOENIX: 2301 N. Central Ave. Phoenix, AZ 85004 602.252.8848 | Light Rail stop: Central/ Encanto

48 December 2011

theme going, Fox Sports Grill is a great spot to watch a game and top off the evening with a “Baseball Cut” top sirloin. Camelback Ranch, the largest park in the Cactus League, is owned by the City of Glendale and features a two-acre lake. It has picturesque walking trails, landscaped grounds and an orange grove. Guests enjoy water features and a fully stocked lake between the Dodgers and White Sox facilities. The park includes more than 118,000 square feet of major and minor league clubhouse space, 13 full baseball fields and three halffields. It has a seating capacity of 13,000, which includes 3,000 lawn seats, 12 luxury suites and a party deck. The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community has partnered with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies to build Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, the first Major

League Baseball spring training facility to be built on Indian land. The complex includes an 11,000-seat ballpark and 12 practice fields. It is located near Talking Stick Golf Club, Pavilions retail center, Talking Stick Resort and Casino Arizona at Talking Stick. So, the choices are many. Make spring training in Arizona part of your group’s future travel plans. It means great games, great players, jumbo hot dogs, inexpensive tickets and the opportunity to get close to the athletes while soaking in the sun and hearing the crack of the bat. It doesn’t get any better than that! LGT Obtain Arizona visitor guides and itineraries – and contact groupfriendly suppliers directly – at

on location: south ❖

dave bodle

Elvis Presley’s Graceland

Tennessee ennessee is an absolute treasure of opportunities for student/youth groups. From its influential history and music contributions, to its wonderful culture and scenic beauty, Tennessee is ready for your groups. The eastern portion of Tennessee with the majestic Smoky Mountains as a backdrop is one of the state’s most popular destinations. Pigeon Forge, with more than a dozen theater and entertainment venues and a host of educational opportunities, is a magnet for student/youth groups. Fun and scholarship just seem to go together in Pigeon Forge. Visiting Mother Nature is a natural

Photo used by permission, Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.


Hits the Right Note with Student Groups Educational discoveries await young travelers in Pigeon Forge, Nashville and Memphis

way for student groups to enjoy Pigeon Forge because America’s most visited national park is Pigeon Forge’s nextdoor neighbor. The 500,000-acre Great Smoky Mountains National Park is easily accessible and perfect for any U.S. history curriculum. Groups learn about the formation of the national park sys-

tem and the famous dedication visit to the park by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. For years, local receptive operator Steve Ellis Tours has been using retired National Park Service rangers as stepon guides and program coordinators. Science takes center stage at a number of Pigeon Forge venues. WonderDecember 2011 49

The Dolly Parton Homecoming Parade in Pigeon Forge attracts school bands.

on location: south ❖ Works, the upside-down building, specializes in curriculum-based science programs. Gravity, force and motion, probability, sound and energy can all be explored. Titanic Pigeon Forge shares the story of the ship’s tragic ending, with activities to enhance English, history and literature curricula available online. Dollywood’s “Science in the Park” workbook provides a look at the rides from a totally different perspective. With music such an integral part of Pigeon Forge’s appeal, it’s understandable that performance groups are welcomed. Venues providing opportunities include Dollywood, Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede, Smith Family Dinner Theatre, Tennessee Shindig, Grand Majestic Theater and WonderWorks. Career options in the entertainment field are offered at Country Tonite with topics covering theater production and management careers. The city-sponsored Dolly Parton Homecoming Parade attracts a variety of regional bands. Dolly is a crowd favorite and the annual May event honoring her attracts tens of thousands of spectators. Look no further than the Music City’s commitment to the student/youth market to understand why the Student Youth Travel Association (SYTA) chose Nashville as host of its 2012 annual 50 December 2011

conference. The city combines a rich history and diverse culture with its fabulous music offerings. The Museum of African American Music, Art & Culture, opening is 2013, will be ready to welcome students with a unique Nashville learning experience. Belle Meade Plantation offers tours conducted by costumed guides who share the estate’s storied

WonderWorks is a student favorite in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

history. Performance groups are invited to the 1890s Carriage House, just seven miles from downtown Nashville. The Hermitage: Home of President Andrew Jackson provides a look into how our young nation was shaped. Hands-on history classes can be tailored to any age group. The Visitor Center Breezeway allows for student performance groups following the tour.

There’s a good reason they call it Music City. Nashville features plenty of opportunities for performance groups to display their talents. What better place to perform than the Country Music Hall of Fame? Small ensembles to marching bands of up to 100 members have been featured. A chance to perform at the General Jackson Showboat boarding area is sure to excite; dates are available from March-October. The world-famous Grand Ole Opry welcomes student groups to perform prior to seeing a show in February and March. Ryman Auditorium, with its outstanding acoustics, welcomes up to 80-member performance groups to its stage. When the weather’s right, Nashville Shores Outdoor Water Park provides two performance venues. Throughout 2012 Gaylord Opryland will host a variety of festivals and events. Festivals of Music and the Heritage Festivals are featured on extended weekends throughout April. Other dates will become available soon. Memphis, located on the Mississippi River, has become a favorite destination for student/youth groups. Its cotton industry heritage and involvement in the civil rights movement tell a compelling story. And music has always been an important part of Memphis and its contribution to American culture. Before exploring the obvious, there are a few itinerary options you may not want to overlook. Lichterman Nature Center is a certified arboretum featuring extensive natural areas and gardens, Mecca for those interested in botany and biology. The center is part of the Pink Palace Family of Museums, which includes Pink Palace, Sharpe Planetarium, CTI IMAX® Theatre, and Coon Creek Science Center. How does breakfast with Elvis Presley sound? One of his favorites, the Arcade Restaurant, opened in

Titanic Pigeon Forge offers many lessons for student travel groups.

1919 and has been featured in Great Balls of Fire and The Client. It’s a great way to start a music-filled day. The Memphis Rock ’n’ Soul Museum is the first stop for any group exploring the musical pioneers who broke down barriers to create music that impacted the world. Next stop is Graceland. After a Platinum Tour, musical groups are invited to perform at the pavilion

across the street from the mansion. Performance groups are also welcomed at Opera Memphis, Cannon Center for Performing Arts, Germantown Performing Arts Center and Bartlett Performing Arts Center. Stax Museum of American Soul Museum is popular with all groups. Coming in 2012, Beale Street Landing, with retail shops, restaurants, meeting space and home of the American Queen steamboat, will host performing groups. Mud Island River Park pays tribute to the mighty Mississippi River. Its “Explorer Package” includes a visit to the River Museum and a self-guided tour of the River Walk, a half-mile-long concrete scale model of the Lower Mississippi. Other tours include “Transportation on the Mighty Mississippi” and “Civil War River Walk Tour.” “The Mud Hunt,” a scavenger hunt for infor-

mation found on the River Walk, is popular with student groups. As a major stop on the Underground Railroad, Memphis has made significant contributions to African American history. A key sight is the National Civil Rights Museum, which focuses on the struggle for freedom. A visit to Memphis is not complete without an inspirational tour of the museum, housed in the Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. From across the state and region, teachers are opening the Tennessee treasure chest and discovering a rare and exciting field trip option. LGT Obtain Tennessee visitor guides and itineraries – and contact groupfriendly suppliers directly – at

KING OF THE ROAD NEW EXHIBIT COMING SOON The Bakersfield Sound: Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, and California Country Open March 2012 – December 2013 This exhibit will draw on the Museum’ Museum’ss rich collection of artifacts, vintage film footage, photos, costumes, and more to tell the story of two of country’ country’ss most influential and successful artists who emerged from the thriving Bakersfield, California music scene. UNIQUE GROUP GROUP TOUR TOUR PACKAGES P PA ACKAGES AVAILABLE AVAILABLE

222 5th Ave. Ave. South


Downtown Nashville, TN




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The Country Countr y Music Hall Hallll of Fame® Fame® and Museum is op operated erated b byy the Count Country r y Music F Foundation, oundation, Inc., Inc., a Section Section 501(c)(3) non-profit non-profit education education organiz organization ation chartered chartered by by the state of Te Tennessee ennessee in 1964.



December 2011 51

on the record â?&#x2013;

On The Record Special Touches Enhance Itineraries FOLLOWING ARE ANSWERS from Leisure Group Travel readers who responded to this question about experiential travel: In light of the trend toward experiential travel, are your travelers asking for more unique experiences? If so, what kind of hands-on or behindthe-scenes elements have you used to make an ordinary trip a special one? Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve seen a demand for experiential activities since the mid-2000s and have been working with our attractions ever since to continuously develop fun, hands-on and VIP activities. We currently have more than 60 experiences tailor-made for groups. One of our most popular experiences is Wax, Wicks and Wine. Groups can pour their own custom-scented candle at The Candle Lab, then, while it hardens, stroll next door to sample a variety of vintages at House Wine. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve also re-created life on the Underground Railroad. Groups can meet the special â&#x20AC;&#x153;residentâ&#x20AC;? at the Kelton House, a restored Underground Railroad stop filled with original furnishings. Groups get the ultimate VIP access at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, named the No. 1 zoo in the nation by USA Travel Guide. Eat breakfast with the animals and even touch rare animals

niCholAs CAlderAzzo

like snow leopards. Nordstrom at Easton Town Center also opens its doors early to groups, who can enjoy breakfast before the store opens and get advice on fashion trends. Groups can even be a professional baseball player for a day and experience what lifeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s like in the minors for the Columbus Clippers, the Triple-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. Alissa Preston Tourism Sales Manager Experience Columbus Columbus, Ohio Travelers are looking to experience a destination, not just see it. As travel professionals we need not only offer experiences, but offer ones they cannot easily find on their own. Therefore, I lean heavily on suppliers to come up with something special that will not easily be found on the Internet or at least is a

The Little Theatre On The Square in Sullivan, IL

Grease June 6-17

7 Brides June 20-July 1

ChArlene PAlmer


Pirates July 5-15

Music Man July 18-29

9-5 August 1-12


AlissA Preston

group-only experience. At Blenheim Palace (Churchillâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s birthplace) we have an author who has penned several books on Blenheim and Churchill conduct the tour and give a talk. In NYC we have an elegant tea room that few know of. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s asking the Southern Folklore Museum in Memphis to open early for a breakfast, music and talk. Curators, architects, authors â&#x20AC;&#x201C; we try to give our tours special touches that do not necessarily add much to the cost, but become invaluable memories and set us apart. Nicholas Calderazzo Twin Travel Concepts Kinderhook, NY I asked the catering director at McDonaldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Corp. in Oak Brook, Ill., with whom I work to stage our holiday party for the club, if she could assist me in having a special tour. She did a fantastic job! We had a private tour of Hamburger University and then a tour of the private art collection, which had not been included in their tours previously. The disappointing factor of this tour is that I have a waiting list of members wishing to participate, and it is not promising that I will be able to repeat the tour because it was scheduled special by the catering director. It is creating an idea, working with someone whom you respect, that you

can offer unique and unusual tours. This is what my people expect for their tours â&#x20AC;&#x201C; seeing, learning and becoming a part of the unusual. By working with the same person/ persons consistently, one is able to create a networking situation and can expand ideas and connections. Esther M. Scott Assistant Vice President Hinsdale Bank & Trust Co. Hinsdale, IL I have a lot of group trips in South Africa and I include things like elephant safaris (interacting with and riding elephants), cage diving (getting to see a shark up close) and canopy tours (traveling through the forest from treetop to treetop). I try to include activities that most people would not usually experience and something that is unique to the country they are visiting, like posting a postcard in Vanuatuâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s underwater post office or sailing on a pirate ship in the Caribbean. People like to experience a place as much as they like to take in the sights.

Combining these elements ensures a wellrounded and exciting trip. Charlene Palmer Liberant Travel CC Centurion, South Africa


IN THE FEBRUARY ISSUE of Leisure Group Travel, our On the Record column will look at shopping. Please send us your response to this question: What kinds of free-time shopping experiences have worked best for your groups? More specifically, name stores, towns and malls they have raved about. And what places have provided special offers for your group? Along with your comments, please include your name, company name and location. Also for publication, send a high-resolution photo of yourself. A selection of responses will be printed in the February 2012 issue. Thanks in advance for your valuable opinions.

Follow the Sparkle Across The Natural State

Send to: Randy Mink,




For more information or to book your group, call toll free 1-877-778-8138 or email

Must be 21 years of age or older and possess a valid photo ID to enter casino and to gamble. Know When To Stop Before You Start.Ž Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-522-4700. An Enterprise of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation. Š2011, Caesars License Company, LLC.

On Marketing

❖ dave bodle

Recapping a Year Filled with Marketing Advice OVER THIS PAST YEAR it has been an absolute delight to author this marketing column. It has been fun, but also a really positive learning exercise for me. With each issue’s writing I was drawing from personal business experiences. In more than one issue I came to realize my business had drifted away from what I was sharing with you! I’m certain that each and every Leisure Group Travel reader has blindly followed my every word. Well probably not, but even if you have read the column at times we’re all a little memory-challenged. So, I thought it might be good to take a look back at some highlights from previous issues. I will do so in the form of a non-graded quiz, but with promises of some Christmas pudding for those with the

better recall. Of course, this is an open book exercise.


We began the year in February with a column that basically dealt with listening to your customers. I spoke with a few tour operators that are close friends and discovered how one operator listened and developed a really interesting idea for a garden club that had traditionally only done day trips. What elements did he incorporate into a garden tour?


In April I faced my fear of social media by admitting I didn’t understand much about how it worked. Since then I’ve developed a Facebook page and website for my political campaign. I’m running for Myrtle Beach City Council. More on those results in a later issue. Who helped me with the technical stuff?

3 Looking Ahead to Our


• Native American • Religious Travel • Factory Tours • Shopping • Oklahoma • Texas • New Mexico • Missouri • Michigan • Rhode Island • Connecticut • Florida • Caribbean/Mexico • Virginia See our page-flip edition & past issues at We can help showcase your business to groups. Call us 630.794.0696 or

54 December 2011

In June we talked a little about “Branding.” It’s that term when you search it on Google you get more than 100 million hits in just seconds. I’m not a fan of branding, but I did recommend you bring in a facilitator if you were interested. Where did I suggest you look for that help?


With August came one of my favorite topics—public relations. We talked about how a good program needed to be planned and not “just when something happens.” What is the cornerstone of a good public relations effort?


October was another opportunity to get on a soapbox. The need for well-written, insightful copy was stressed. When there is a call for copy that

sells, where did I suggest you turn? Have some fun with this, but most importantly have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I was just kidding about the Christmas pudding. ANSWERS: 1. Ginny’s Garden Club is very interested in a destination’s formal gardens. However, it takes a little digging and some listening to know that Ginny’s Garden Club also does a progressive dinner every other month. At each of their monthly meetings they have a drawing and give away a bottle of wine. A tour that blends gardens, wineries and a unique dinner one evening just might work for Ginny. 2. My 15-year-old grandson helps me set up Facebook accounts for each of my small business ventures. 3. Get it started in-house by bringing in a facilitator (somebody from the industry) for a few days. Tell them you want to be certain that everything you’re doing is sending the same message to your customers. 4. Begin by developing a strong media list. A good list is the cornerstone of your public relations effort. In the end that list will be 60 percent responsible for the success of your program. 5. For magazines and newspapers, they’ll handle the editorial. For your catalogs, newsletters and online, the burden is on you. Here’s when you turn to your industry partners for their assistance. Remember, they’re invested in your success and may very well have in-hand the words and images you need. Contact Dave at 843-712-1140 or email



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Leisure Group Travel Magazine  

December 2011 edition of LGT Magazine

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