A Premier Tourism Marketing publication â€˘ www.leisuregrouptravel.com
Because the only thing better than telling old stories is creating new ones. If youâ€™ve ever been to Columbus, you know it isnâ€™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 ExperienceColumbus.com/tours or by calling 800-354-2657. COMING IN 2012
ONE OF THE NATIONâ€™S BEST PLACES FOR FUN
SHOPPING SO GOOD YOU NEED EXTRA LUGGAGE
NEIGHBORHOODS WITH PERSONALITY
Ä‘ĆŤĆŤ!+)!ĆŤ*ĆŤ.0%/0ĆŤ"+.ĆŤ0$!ĆŤ 5ĆŤ0 0$!ĆŤColumbus Museum of Art. Rachel Trinkley, 614-629-5942, www.columbusmuseum.org
Ä‘ĆŤĆŤ$+,ĆŤ0ĆŤ$1* .! /ĆŤ+"ĆŤ/,!%(05ĆŤ/0+.!/ĆŤ 0ĆŤEaston Town CenterÄ‹ĆŤ Bethany Braden, 614-750-0616, www.eastontowncenter.com
Ä‘ĆŤĆŤ2+.ĆŤ0$!ĆŤ0/0!/ĆŤ+"ĆŤ+( ĆŤ .!(* ĆŤ%*ĆŤDublinÄ‹ĆŤ Mary Szymkowiak, 614-792-7666, www.irishisanattitude.com
Ä‘ĆŤĆŤ0ĆŤ.!'"/0ĆŤ3%0$ĆŤ0$!ĆŤ*%)(/ĆŤ0ĆŤ 0$!ĆŤColumbus Zoo and AquariumÄ‹ĆŤ Roger Dudley, 614-645-3521, www.columbuszoo.org
Ä‘ĆŤĆŤ$+,ĆŤ0ĆŤÄ Ä€Ä€ĆŤ*)!ÄĄ.* ĆŤ/0+.!/ĆŤ 0ĆŤPrime Outletsâ€“JeffersonvilleÄ‹ĆŤ Kristen Hauer, 740-948-9091, www.primeoutlets-jeffersonville.com
Ä‘ĆŤĆŤ$((!*#!ĆŤ5+1.ĆŤ%**!.ĆŤ!4,(+.!.ĆŤ0ĆŤCOSIÄ‹ĆŤ Susan Peters, 614-228-2674 ext. 2542, www.cosi.org
WHERE TO REST YOUR HEAD
Ä‘ĆŤĆŤ2+.ĆŤ$!.ÄĄ%*"1/! ĆŤ"++ /ĆŤ%*ĆŤGahannaÄŒĆŤ '*+3*ĆŤ/ĆŤ0$!ĆŤ!.ĆŤ,%0(ĆŤ+"ĆŤ$%+Ä‹ Katrina McDonald, 614-418-9114, www.visitgahanna.com
Ä‘ĆŤĆŤ(+3ĆŤĆŤ#(//ĆŤ+.*)!*0ĆŤ%*ĆŤLicking CountyÄ‹ĆŤBen Clemons, 740-345-8224, www.escapetolickingcounty.com
Ä‘ĆŤĆŤ$100(!ĆŤ0+ĆŤ/0+*ĆŤ+3*ĆŤ!*0!.ĆŤ ".+)ĆŤEmbassy Suites Columbus AirportÄ‹ĆŤLindsay Phillips, 614-536-0211, www.columbusairport.embassysuites.com
Ä‘ĆŤĆŤ '!ĆŤEastern Ohio ToursĆŤ5+1.ĆŤ .!/+1.!ĆŤ"+.ĆŤ%*0!.0%2!ĆŤ0+1./Ä‹ĆŤ Dixie Wyler, 740-754-1833, www.easternohiotours.com
Ä‘ĆŤĆŤ2!.*%#$0ĆŤ%*ĆŤ0$!ĆŤ$%,ĆŤ$+.0ĆŤ+.0$ĆŤ .0/ĆŤ%/0.%0ĆŤ0ĆŤHampton Inn & Suites Downtown ColumbusÄ‹ĆŤ Gene Minnich, 614-559-2000, www.columbusdowntownsuites. hamptoninn.com Ä‘ĆŤĆŤ05ĆŤ(+/!ĆŤ0+ĆŤ+(.%/ĆŤ/$%+*ĆŤ(!ĆŤ 0ĆŤHilton Garden Inn Columbus/ PolarisÄ‹ĆŤ Teresa Shay Tompkins, 614-846-8884, www.columbuspolaris.gardeninn.com
Ä‘ĆŤĆŤ%#1.!ĆŤ+10ĆŤÄ—3$+ 1*%0Ä˜ĆŤ 1.%*#ĆŤ+.%#%*(ĆŤ %*0!.0%2!ĆŤ %**!.ĆŤ0$!0!.ĆŤ/$+3/ĆŤ%*ĆŤ Ohio VillageÄ‹ĆŤLesley Cornathan, 614-297-3219, www.ohiohistory.org
Ä‘ĆŤĆŤ4,(+.!ĆŤ$!ĆŤ$%+ĆŤ00!ĆŤ*%2!./%05ĆŤ* ĆŤ +3*0+3*ĆŤ0ĆŤHilton Garden Innâ€“ OSUÄ‹ĆŤMaggie Mungai, 614-263-7200, www.columbusuniversityarea.stayhgi.com Ä‘ĆŤĆŤ05ĆŤ +3*0+3*ĆŤ0ĆŤHoliday Inn
Columbus Downtown Capitol Square. Tyson Schweitzer, 614-221-3281, www.holiday-inn.com/cmh-cityctr Ä‘ĆŤĆŤ2!.*%#$0ĆŤ(+/!ĆŤ0+ĆŤ +3*0+3*ĆŤ 0ĆŤUniversity Plaza Hotel & Conference CenterÄ‹ĆŤ John Loree, 614-456-1156, www.universityplazaosu.com
Ä‘ĆŤĆŤ+1.ĆŤ5+1.ĆŤ+3*ĆŤ1/0+)ÄĄ/!*0! ĆŤ * (!ÄŒĆŤ0$!*ĆŤ/!(!0ĆŤ5+1.ĆŤ"2+.%0!ĆŤ 3%*!ĆŤ%*ĆŤWorthington.ĆŤ Mindy Mace, 614-841-2545, www.visitworthingtonohio.com
contents Vol. 21, No. 6
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
COLUMNS 6 12
On My Mind
by jeff gayduk
by marty sarbey de souto
On Experiential Travel 54
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, email@example.com or visit www .mallofamerica.com www.mallofamerica.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Publisher – Jeffrey Gayduk email@example.com
Managing Editor – Randy Mink
Senior Editor – John Kloster firstname.lastname@example.org
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 LeisureGroupTravel.com 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 www.Facebook.com/GroupUniversity). 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 email@example.com
Senior Editor – Dave Bodle firstname.lastname@example.org
Senior Editor – Carol Smith email@example.com
Director, Design & Production – Robert Wyszkowski firstname.lastname@example.org
Regional Sales Managers Illinois – Jim McCurdy
P 630.794.0696 • F 630.794.0652 email@example.com
Northeast & Eastern Midwest/Canada – Harry Peck P 440.334.7928 • F 630.794.0652 firstname.lastname@example.org
Mid Atlantic – Ellen Klesta
P 630.794.0696 • F 630.794.0652 email@example.com
Southeast/West Coast – Cheryl Rash
P 563.613.3068 • F 815.225.5274 firstname.lastname@example.org
Southern – Dolores Ridout P/F 281.762.9546 email@example.com Florida & Caribbean – Prof Inc. P 813.286.8299 • F 813.287.0651 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 Jeff@ptmgroups.com
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
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
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 email@example.com. See Cindy’s river cruise industry article on page 20.
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.
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, groupuniversity.com. 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 Twitter.com/LeisureGroup 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 MySwitzerland.com/steam 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 leisuregrouptravel.com.
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 www.opportunityguy.com; email: firstname.lastname@example.org or (617) 786-9096.
❖ 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 (sarbeyassociates.com).
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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.
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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 knowâ€”or people who are likemindedâ€”so weâ€™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 togetherâ€”sometimes the extended family. Families are busy these days, but they still need quality time together. Two additional markets are growing: adventureâ€”from a light hike in a national park to shooting the rapidsâ€”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.
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