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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? We’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. We’ve also re-created life on the Underground Railroad. Groups can meet the special “resident� 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

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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 life’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 (Churchill’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. It’s asking the Southern Folklore Museum in Memphis to open early for a breakfast, music and talk. Curators, architects, authors – 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 McDonald’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 – 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 Vanuatu’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,




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On The Record  

9-5 August 1-12 like snow leopards. Nordstrom at Easton Town Center also opens its doors early to groups, who can enjoy breakfast before the...