Groups Today November 2022

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POSTMASTER: 1 THEME DESTINATION PLANNER PROFILE Lisa Busch & Kevin Thuman page 4 5 MINUTES WITH... Janette Roush page 30 TOP DESTINATIONS TO CONSIDER IN 2023 page 10 MAKE ONTARIO YOUR NEXT GROUP ADVENTURE page 22 ISSUES Safe and Sound: Hotel Safety Considerations page 6 EDUCATION Tax Planning for Your Travel Business page 28 IN EVERY ISSUE Editor's Letter 2 | Online 3 | Spotlight 18 | Ad Index 31 IN THIS ISSUE GROUPS TODAY IS PUBLISHED BY: Serendipity Media, LLC 866-252-7108 PRESIDENT & PUBLISHER
Smith ART DIRECTOR Courtney Van Hagen MANAGING EDITORS Sarah Suydam Josh Veal PRODUCTION COORDINATOR Emily Alspaugh SALES & ACCOUNTING COORDINATOR Megan Marshall MARKETING DIRECTOR Loren Eisenlohr MARKETING COORDINATORS Jasa West Natalie Villar MARKETING & MEMBERSHIP COORDINATOR Kayla Swem MEDIA CONSULTANT Haleigh Gerwig MEMBERS OF: Student & Youth Travel Association American Bus Association National Tour Association Circle Michigan Ontario Motor Coach Association Groups Today is published bimonthly by Serendipity Media, LLC; 535 Cascade West Parkway SE; Grand Rapids, MI 49546. Periodical postage is paid at Grand Rapids, MI, and additional mailing offices. Subscription information may be obtained through the above address, by calling 866-
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Send address changes to Groups Today c/o Serendipity Media, LLC; 535 Cascade West Parkway SE; Grand Rapids, MI 49546. All rights reserved. Groups Today content may not be photocopied or reproduced or redistributed without the consent of the publisher. © 2022 Serendipity Media LLC NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022 Volume 20, Issue 6


It’s hard to believe, but a new year will soon be upon us—2023 is knocking!

And with a new year comes embracing new adventures, something Lisa Busch and Kevin Thuman, co-owners of Prime Tours, know well. After purchasing the business in 2019, they never could have known what would shortly await them and the rest of the world. Turn to page 4 to learn how they first joined forces and what they’re up to now as they take groups back on the road.

And speaking of hitting the road, be sure to read our list of the top destinations to consider for 2023, found on page 10. This grouping of 15 destinations includes both domestic and international treasures, from the instantly recognizable to the hidden gems flying under the radar. On page 22, we also shine a spotlight on Ontario and all that Canada’s second largest province has to offer, from ways to honor the history of Canada’s First Peoples to exploring the oldest continuously operated canal system in North America and more.

We also sat down with Janette Roush, Executive Vice President, Marketing & Digital for NYC & Company, who came to the organization in 2018 after promoting Broadway shows for 20 years. Flip to page 30 to get her take on changes, challenges, opportunities for the future, advice and more.

A new year also brings with it many things to plan for. From tax planning tips (page 28) to considerations for selecting the right hotel (page 6), we cover it all.

No matter if you’re enjoying a Christmas market with one of your groups in Europe or spending time with loved ones in your hometown, we at Groups Today wish you a safe, healthy and happy holiday season.

We’ll see you in the new year!

Send your stories, suggestions and thoughts to:

535 Cascade West Parkway SE Grand Rapids, MI 49546

2 GROUPS TODAY November/December 2022

Embracing a New Adventure

WWhen Lisa Busch, a former office administrator, and Kevin Thuman, a retired educator, coach and student travel leader, purchased Dublin, Ohio-based Prime Tours in 2019, they couldn’t have known the challenges they’d soon face. However, as new co-owners of a company that’s been customizing group tours since 1996, Busch and Thuman’s past experiences prepared them to take it all on in stride.

Thuman had utilized Prime’s services in the past for a student trip he led to DC, along with working full time in the industry since 2014, and Busch was already plenty familiar with Prime and its workings

“I began as the office administrator for Prime Tours in 2016 after selling my previous retail company and learned every aspect of the business from the ground up,” said Busch, who is also the company’s CFO.

When Prime’s previous owner expressed interest in retiring, talks with Busch and Thuman began. Recognizing the great potential to grow the business, Busch and Thuman pooled their talents and equity to make the purchase official. However, when COVID-19 hit six months later, there was much to consider.

“It made for some very anxious moments as we waited impatiently for travel restrictions to be lifted,” Thuman recalled. “We had time to think and plan for how our

business model would look in a post-COVID world, and we changed our marketing strategy.”

Fortunately, the combination of flexibility and loyal customers helped Prime Tours remain in a good position. They’ve since added more robust terms & conditions and added post-departure insurance for every student traveler. Busch explained that more travelers than ever are seeking travel insurance—a welcomed change.

Among some of Busch and Thuman’s favorite travel offerings are their British Invasion Band Fan Tours in Liverpool, Windsor and London; Haunted Tours with Sheri Brake in Gettysburg and Ireland; senior citizen trips to Italy; and more.

“I love our celebrity tours. Fans absolutely love to travel with others who share the same passions,” Busch said, whose personal favorite experience was at a castle in Czechia. “Our Outlander trips to Scotland and Bead Tours to the Czech Republic stand out as the most memorable, with spectacular farewell dinners and entertainment that left everyone laughing, crying and singing along.”

When it comes to lessons learned and advice for newcomers, both Busch and Thuman agree: The fine print matters.

“Prepare, prepare, prepare, and have a backup plan,” said Thuman, who in his spare time enjoys garden model railroading and pickleball. “Hire good local guides, establish relations with bus companies and other vendors. Have a plan for what type of travel you will offer. Think about who your customers will be.”

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Busch suggests developing workflow systems and checklists; verifying everything; and paying close attention to contracts—especially from hotels. Don’t like the terms? Negotiate.

“Learn how your money works. Take classes, get a coach or advisor, and if it’s not your forte, get a bookkeeper,” she said. “The fastest way to put yourself out of business is a lack of understanding about cash flow and how your expenses impact the bottom line.”

Though she still gets nervous going into a tour from time to time, Busch loves traveling with groups. She even wears a red coat on tours so groups can always find her!

“Once I’m on the tour, the nervousness goes away and it’s great fun to be with the guests and show them the places I love.” 5


so they can complete their jobs. With hotel employee turnover, former employees may still have access to the hotel, including guest rooms,” Bowers said. “Simply ask the hotel how often their master keys are rekeyed. A respectable property should change them at least every six months.”

Bowers notes the majority of hotel safety issues happen in the parking lot, so it’s smart to ask if the area where a motorcoach unloads is well lit, and if there are functioning security cameras both inside and outside of the property.

“Upon checking in, ask if the property has a current fire and evacuation plan, a crisis management plan and an active shooter plan. You may also ask how often they practice those plans,” Bowers advised.

WWhile travel is all about having fun and making memories that last a lifetime, safety is always paramount on the road. When it comes to selecting suitable accommodations, there are a variety of different steps to take, tips to keep in mind and red flags to note.

For insight, we tapped the expertise of Michael J Bowers, President & CEO of Travel Safety Solutions, LLC, who has decades of experience supporting the safety needs of student tour operators and travel organizations.

First and foremost, do your due diligence and conduct thorough research (reading reviews from other travelers, considering hotel location and looking up crime rates for that particular neighborhood, etc.). Bowers emphasizes the importance of speaking directly with hotel staff and management about their safety protocols.

“Hotel master keys are often provided to employees

If those measures are in place and a hotel practices them annually, Bowers says you’ll gain a better understanding of how much the property prioritizes overall guest safety.

“Ask staff if they’ve been trained on their hotel’s emergency response plan, including for evacuation,” he said, adding that if staff are confused by this question or say they’ve never been trained, contact hotel management and notify them of the issue. “Every staff member should be able to answer ‘yes’ to this question. And if not, you should consider a different hotel in the future.”

It’s also worth having a discussion with your group about where you’ll specifically meet up in case of an

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emergency, including determining a secondary location. Because unplanned events are often fluid situations, it’s vital to have these discussions with your groups.

Some additional good habits to have upon checking in at your destination include: Assessing the room to ensure nothing was left behind by a previous guest; checking if there’s a working smoke detector, in addition to a carbon monoxide detector should the room have gas appliances such as a stove or fireplace (Bowers notes most alarms have a small red test button); and ensuring window and door locks are present and in working order.

“If either the lock, deadbolt or windows or sliding doors don’t operate correctly, you should immediately seek to be assigned to another room that’s fully functional,” Bowers said. “I also find it very concerning when I see debris or supplies stored next to or blocking emergency exits. If this is noticed, immediately report the issue.”

Ultimately, looping in hotel management and asking questions is a good rule of thumb to follow in any situation that feels “off”—regardless of the reason.

Remember: Your gut is worth trusting. 7
Mike Bowers President & CEO of Travel Safety Solutions, LLC

FFrom mountain retreats to waterfront getaways and everywhere in between, take a look at our list of 15 destinations that are rising to the surface for groups in 2023.





Architectural beauty and cultural richness abound in Barcelona, the capital of Spain’s Catalonia region. Home to the famous Futbol Club Barcelona and nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Barcelona offers groups an opportunity to be immersed in an atmosphere that’s steeped in both heritage and romance. Of course, Barcelona’s cuisine is also worth writing home about; an abundance of rooftop bars and patios, acclaimed hot spots such as Gala, and La Boqueria Market—a local favorite—round out the experience.

Some must-see sights include Gaudí’s famed Sagrada Família, the blue tiled Casa Batlló, the sandy beaches of the Barceloneta neighborhood, the Picasso Museum, and the mosaics of Park Güell.


Over four million visitors flock to Charleston, South Carolina each year—and it’s easy to see why. Often described as a “living museum,” groups will find a bounty of history to soak up, thanks to several well preserved historic homes and sites. Tours offer insight into the area’s significant Black history, including the heirloom traditions and influence of the Gullah people.

Try the crab cakes from Charleston Grill, savor some soul food from My Three Sons, take a horsedrawn carriage ride on cobblestone streets, enjoy a scenic boat ride through Cypress Gardens, shop the boutiques along iconic King Street, and visit the International African American Museum—opening January 2023.


Outdoor adventure is the name of the game in Colorado Springs, where groups could grab the reins and make the most of the region’s natural beauty with countless activities and attractions.

Take in the unforgettable sights of the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park in nearby Cañon City or get your thrills by whitewater rafting on the Arkansas River. Climb amongst the red rocks of Garden of the Gods Park (a National Natural Landmark), conquer the summit of Pikes Peak (which has a brand new visitor center) and ride the Broadmoor Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway, get inspired at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum, and more. 11
Photo © Discover South Carolina


An energetic destination, Columbus is filled to the brim with group-friendly activities. Ohio’s capital city boasts attractions like the Kelton House (an Underground Railroad stop), the Franklin Park Conservatory (home to several works by Dale Chihuly), and the one-of-a-kind National Veterans Memorial and Museum.

Grab a bite of almost any food you can think of at the historic North Market food hall, get lost among more than half a million books at the 32-room Book Loft in German Village, drink and dine throughout the vibrant Short North Arts District, and see some animal friends at the acclaimed Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.



New York’s Finger Lakes region— named for a group of 11 lakes all running north to south—is a picturesque destination ideal for groups looking to enjoy all New York state has to offer (which includes waterfalls, if you didn’t already know).

In addition to stunning scenery, including the Cayuga Lake Scenic Byway, the Finger Lakes are all about trails. Beverage lovers can indulge in the flavors found on the Canandaigua Wine Lake Trail and the Rochester/Finger Lakes Craft Beverage Trail, while history comes alive on the region’s Women’s History Trail. The Genesee Country Village and Museum, considered the largest living history museum in the state, is also not to be missed.


Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Eureka Springs is an Ozark mountain town suited for groups looking for outdoor splendor, local arts experiences, and distinct small town charm. All of these elements come together thanks to the Arkansas Art Trail, which highlights unique architecture created with the surrounding land in mind.

Motorcycle rides, treetop zip lining, paranormal tours at the Crescent Hotel and Spa—known as “America’s Most Haunted Hotel”—and a ride on the Eureka Springs Trolley are among the many activities for groups to enjoy.


Bourbon reigns supreme in Louisville, so it comes as no surprise the destination has earned the nickname “Bourbon City.” Here, groups could choose from a variety of urban distilleries and tasting experiences, in addition to taking a bite out of the city’s thriving culinary scene.

Be sure to try a “hot brown” sandwich at The Brown Hotel, pull out your best hat for a visit to the Kentucky Derby Museum, honor the legacy of “The Greatest” at the Muhammad Ali Center, and plenty more.

12 GROUPS TODAY November/December 2022 THEME FEATURE Photos © Experience Columbus / Finger Lakes Wine Country / Travel Eureka Springs / Louisville Tourism


Though Milwaukee continues to grow and change with time, it’s a destination that’s serious about honoring its past. Groups will find several opportunities to recognize the roots of the many different people who have called the lakefront city home, including the annual Hunting Moon Pow-Pow, German Fest, the Jewish Museum Milwaukee, and America’s Black Holocaust Museum.

Don’t leave without testing your luck at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino, revving your engines at the Harley-Davidson Museum, dining in nearby Wauwatosa, and taking a Beer History Tour at Historic Pabst Brewery.


In addition to an invigorating energy and unique culture, New Orleans brings with it a flavor that can only be found in the Crescent City. And there’s never a shortage of things for groups to do, since the destination boasts 135 festivals annually (that’s roughly one festival every three days)!

Hit up the French Quarter, indulge in beignets at Café du Monde, catch some live performances at one of the city’s many music venues, roam the National WWII Museum, take a historic (or haunted) tour, and wander New Orleans City Park—home to several nearly 800-year-old mature oak trees.


Known as the largest french-speaking city in North America, Montréal possesses a historic legacy all its own. More groups than ever are recognizing that Montréal and its many attractions are certainly worth the visit! Stroll the 18th-century cobblestone streets of Old Montréal, enjoy a festival, dine on poutine and bagels, and visit one of the city’s many museums and galleries.

Must-see sights include Basilique Notre Dame de Montréal (the first GothicRevival style church in Canada) Pointe-à-Callière Montréal Archaeology and History Complex, and La Ville Souterraine (commonly referred to as the Underground City).


A strong arts and culture scene is evident in every aspect of Portland, from its theaters and galleries to the area’s many family-friendly attractions and eateries. An inclusive, out-of-the-box destination for groups of all kinds, the Rose City also has much to offer in terms of outdoor recreation, thanks to nearby sites like Mount Hood and Columbia River Gorge.

Enjoy the many establishments along Mississippi Avenue, get a bird’s-eye view with a ride on the Portland Aerial Tram, try the tacos and margaritas at local favorite ¿Por Qué No? Taqueria, bask in the tranquility of the Portland Japanese Garden and much more.

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Photos © Visit Milwaukee, Rachel Hreshberger Alexandre Choquette, Tourism Montréal New Orleans & Company, Chris Granger Travel Portland 15

Situated just outside the U.S. capital, Prince George’s County is a hidden gem truly worth exploring. Here, groups could find plenty of opportunities for enjoyment, including at the National Harbor—a waterside entertainment district teeming with shops, restaurants, live music and group-friendly attractions.

Be sure to get your thrills at Six Flags America, take a horseback ride down the area’s scenic trails, explore outer space at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, sip your way down the Legacy Wine Trail, and get a stunning view of DC from the Capital Wheel.


As Puerto Rico’s capital, San Juan is recognized as the island’s colorful historic and cultural center. Once known as the crown jewel of the Spanish Empire, the city today is filled with many ways for groups to be immersed in both the elements of the Old World and the amenities of modern urban life.

Experience five centuries of history at fortresses like El Morro and San Cristóbal, brush up on your salsa dancing skills while enjoying Old San Juan’s vibrant nightlife, delight in traditional dishes like mofongo, sunbathe on Condado Beach and more.


Seeing an average of 300 days of sunshine per year, the South of France is recognized as a region of many must-see wonders for groups of all kinds, whether they’re seeking seaside relaxation, a next-level walk through history at UNESCO World Heritage sites, lush landscapes or otherwise.

From the stunning and well-preserved architecture of the Arena of Nîmes and the festive pink brick façades of capital city Toulouse, to the ultimate wine experiences of Bordeaux and the Languedoc-Roussillon region, there’s a reason groups often return to the South of France time and time again.


Home to more than four centuries of history, the Greater Williamsburg Area— Jamestown, Williamsburg and Yorktown—offers groups an abundance of unique attractions. See exhibits at Jamestown Settlement, travel to the Yorktown Battlefield, and explore the beginnings of the U.S. at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown.

Don’t forget to tee off on one of the region’s more than 12 championship golf courses, visit European-themed Busch Gardens Williamsburg, dine at the King’s Arms Tavern, and admire native plants thriving at Williamsburg Botanical Garden.

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(top) © Prince George's County, MD Conference & Visitors Bureau Photo (bottom) © Williamsburg Tourism Council


The National Air and Space Museum, located in Washington, DC, has officially reopened half of its flagship building on the National Mall after undergoing various refreshes, including eight new and renovated exhibitions. In addition to those newly renovated exhibits, the planetarium, museum store and Mars Café have also reopened on the building’s west end.

The museum has been undergoing a seven-year renovation that began in 2018 and includes redesigning all 23 exhibitions and presentation spaces, complete refacing of the exterior cladding, replacement of outdated mechanical systems and other repairs and improvements.

“This is one of the most exciting times in the National Air and Space Museum’s history,” said Chris Browne, the John and Adrienne Mars Director of the museum. “When we open the first reimagined galleries, we hope all visitors are inspired by artifacts on display for the first time, favorite icons of aerospace presented in new ways and diverse storytelling.”

Exhibitions that have reopened include:

» America by Air

» Destination Moon

» Early Flight

» Kenneth C. Griffin Exploring the Planets Gallery

» Nation of Speed

» One World Connected

» Thomas W. Haas We All Fly

» Wright Brothers and the Invention of the Aerial Age

The renovated museum features hundreds of new artifacts to the building, such as Jackie Cochran’s T-38, the plane Cochrane flew when she became the first woman to break the sound barrier; the Sharp DR 90 Nemesis air racer, the most successful aircraft in air racing history flown by pilot and co-designer, Jon Sharp; and Sean Tucker’s custom-built aerobatic biplane, the Aviation Specialties Unlimited Challenger III. The full-sized X-Wing Starfighter that appeared in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, on loan from Lucasfilm, will also be displayed for the first time and located outside of the planetarium.

Visitors can also see favorite artifacts presented in new settings, such as the Apollo 11 command

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Photos © Jim Preston
/ National Air and Space Museum SPOTLIGHT

module Columbia, which is now housed in a customdesigned, climate-controlled case as the centerpiece of the Destination Moon exhibition alongside Neil Armstrong’s Apollo 11 spacesuit. The 1903 Wright Flyer will also be displayed in a dynamic new environment that better tells the story of the invention of flying and its implication on world history.

Creative and dynamic techniques are used to engage visitors both during their time at the museum and after. Instead of simply presenting information, the exhibitions now provide ways of engaging people through handson experiences. For example, in the Kenneth C. Griffin Exploring the Planets Gallery, visitors can tour the solar system and learn what it would be like to walk on another world through an immersive, interactive experience.

The planetarium has also seen significant upgrades to its technological capabilities and includes new screencast abilities that allow connection with planetariums around the country and vastly expand the museum’s reach.

Due to great interest from visitors, timed-entry passes are required. See for more.


Beginning November 20, 2022, the most comprehensive collection of Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments ever assembled will officially open inside the new permanent exhibit Miniature Moments – a Journey through Hallmark® Keepsake Ornaments at Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in Dearborn, Michigan.

Groups could admire all the new exhibit has to offer, which includes nearly 7,000 ornaments dating from 1973 to 2009 that highlight holiday celebrations, pop culture moments and special milestones.

The Henry Ford originally acquired this collection in 2019 from Indiana Hallmark retailer, The Party Shop, a family-owned Hallmark Gold Crown store located in Warsaw, Indiana. Started in 1978 by Norm & Dorothy Snyder, the shop was also home to the Hallmark Ornament Museum. For many Hallmark Keepsake Ornament collectors, The Party Shop was a destination. Upon the owners’ decision to retire, The Henry Ford was contacted to acquire the collection. 19
Photo © the Collections of The Henry Ford

Hallmark introduced its first collection of Keepsake Ornaments in 1973 with a small line of six glass ball ornaments and 12 yarn figures. Since its inception, the company has introduced more than 8,500 ornaments and more than 100 ornament series. New ornaments are offered from July to December each year, with each premiere event throughout this six-month period creating a buzz for its loyal customers. Over the years, the company sparked a phenomenon in ornament collecting through the creation of a collectors’ club, which now includes more than 500 active local chapters across the U.S. and Canada.

Hallmark revolutionized Christmas decorating through the development of an increasing variety of ornaments geared to a wide range of distinctly different customer bases. Their use of sound, light, unique materials and other special effects continues to be groundbreaking, along with their unique translations of pop culture and design trends to fit both the traditional ball and nontraditional figural holiday ornaments. Many consumers view the ornaments as more than just a holiday decoration, but a chance to relive special memories and remember special people and events.

Miniature Moments is included with admission to Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation and is free for members.

For more information on The Henry Ford, visit or follow @thehenryford on social.


What happened in Birmingham, Alabama, during the Civil Rights Movement changed the world forever. Today, as the fight presses on, groups could embark on an essential learning journey through the eyes of the monuments and locations— and through the words of Birmingham’s people, many of whom experienced this important era of American history firsthand.

Spanning more than 100 locations throughout 15 states and declared a national monument by former President Barack Obama, the U.S. Civil Rights Trail shares the stories of that time and notably includes several Birmingham sites. It’s here groups could expect a sobering and reflective experience.

Begin with the richly detailed exhibits at Birmingham Civil Rights Institute , which reveal slices of Black and white life in Alabama, from the late 1800s to present. Exhibits span the rise of the Civil Rights Movement and the succession of events it bore around the nation, from the 1955 arrest of Rosa Parks on a Montgomery bus and James Meredith’s 1962 admission to the University of Mississippi, to the violence in 1963 in the streets and churches. A series of galleries tell the stories of what daily life was like for Black Americans in Alabama and the nation, and how dramatically it differed from the lives of white people in the civil rights era. After their visit, groups will leave BCRI with a deeper

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understanding of the movement’s events and complexities.

Across the street is Birmingham’s most well-known civil rights landmark: 16th Street Baptist Church . Completed in 1911, the church served as a meeting place, social center and lecture hall for a variety of activities important to the lives of the city’s Black citizens during the age of segregation. In 1963, Birmingham drew worldwide attention when the church suffered a bombing by the hands of the Ku Klux Klan—a tragic event that took the lives of four young Black girls: 11-year-old Denise McNair and 14-year-olds Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley, and Addie Mae Collins. The bombing was a turning point in the status of race relations, locally and nationally. Today, the church still worships and welcomes all to visit and remember.

Adjacent to BCRI and the church is Kelly Ingram Park. Historically known as West Park, it was the site of many civil rights rallies, demonstrations and confrontations in the 1960s. At the entrance is a life-size sculpture that captures the spirited nature of the young girls killed at 16th Street Baptist Church. Additional sculptures throughout the park vividly depict police dog and fire hose assaults on civil rights era demonstrators, many of them children. Using a free mobile phone audio tour accessed by cellphone, groups could gain a closer look at events that shaped the world.

Led by civil rights legend the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth

from 1953 through 1961, Bethel Baptist Church often served as a gathering place for civil rights discussions, sparking marches and demonstrations that ultimately helped dissipate segregation in Birmingham. The church and its parsonage played a crucial role in the 1961 Freedom Ride that traveled from DC to Mississippi, resulting in federal enforcement of U.S. Supreme Court and Interstate Commerce Commission rulings to desegregate public transportation. In the 1950s, while Shuttlesworth was pastor, the church and parsonage were bombed on separate occasions. Remarkably, no one was injured in the attacks.

Round your visit out with a stop at the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame and Carver Theatre for the Performing Arts, along with the Ballard House.

Find more information at . 21
Photos © Greater Birmingham CVB



CConsidering a visit to The Great White North? Ontario, Canada’s second largest province, has so much to offer groups, it can be hard to know where to begin. Nestled between Manitoba and Québec, it covers 415,000 square miles, and, as the most populous province, it contains more than 38% of Canada’s entire population. Wow! It also borders the U.S. for more than 1,600 miles, abutting Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and Minnesota. That means plenty of access points for tour operators to steer their motorcoaches.

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Keep reading as we zero in on attractions and activities in and around Ottawa, the nation’s capital city, as well as zero in on Toronto, capital of Ottawa. Trust us, there’s no shortage of things to do! And, with a wealth of historical and cultural significance, there’s a lot to learn along the way.

Looking at Ottawa as a whole, our friends at Ottawa Tourism have helped us narrow down some of the more interesting—and group friendly—sights and sites.

A great place to start is with Indigenous Experiences, an organization that creates events and encounters that tell the story of Canada’s First Peoples. Their current offering is Madahòkì (share the land) Farm, a gathering space located in Ottawa’s Greenbelt focusing on agritourism, authentic cultural presentations and performances, and farm-to-table cuisine—all from an Indigenous perspective. Set on the territories of the Algonquin peoples and their descendants, the farm hosts a series of events celebrating the seasons, and serves as a permanent home to five endangered Ojibwe 23
/ Ottawa Tourism
LtoR: Escape Bicycle Tours & Rentals Canadian Museum of History Pow Wow / Canadian Museum of History

Spirit Horses. On site is also a marketplace that promotes works by Indigenous artisans. Madahòkì Farm welcomes groups with special programming and workshops, in addition to boasting ample parking and a large indoor lodge.

With a greater understanding of the region’s past and its native inhabitants, groups are primed to explore the province’s many landmarks and points of interest. Take in exhibitions at the National Gallery of Canada  and the Canadian Museum of History (just a hop over the Alexandra Bridge into Québec), then head over to Ottawa’s Parliament Hill to view striking examples of gothic revival architecture. Nearby is the National War Memorial , a towering granite and bronze arch that commemorates the service of the Canadian Armed Forces—from years gone by to today and beyond.

Just steps away is the Rideau Canal , a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the oldest continuously operated canal system in North America. In winter, it’s transformed into the world’s largest skating rink; in the warmer months, it opens up for scenic boat cruising through downtown Ottawa. To really get a broad view of Ottawa, an absolute must is a sightseeing tour by Lady Dive Tours . Whether you choose to go by amphibus (yes, it traverses both land and water) or one of their open-top, double-decker buses, each excursion is led by knowledgeable guides and offers a relaxing way to see the city. Combination tickets, as well as two-day passes, are available so groups can get more bang for their buck.

LtoR: Northern Lights Sound at Parliament Hill C'est Bon Culinary Adventures

Other experiential activities include C’est Bon Culinary Adventures and Escape Bicycle Tours & Rentals . Groups can take a gourmet food tour, guided by C’est Bon experts, and get a taste of the savory and sweet sides of Ottawa. They also host a variety of in-person cooking classes for smaller groups. Once everyone is sufficiently sated, hop on a bicycle rental and pedal around urban landscapes, outer neighborhoods, and natural areas. And, an evening show of the dinner musical “Oh Canada Eh?” by Totally Legit Productions should absolutely be on the agenda.

Of course, there’s plenty more to do O-Town, but group planners will want to carve out time in their itineraries to venture into Toronto, too. Let’s head there now!

It’s around a four-and-a-half-hour drive from the heart of Ottawa to Toronto, but a great way to break up the ride is to make an extended stop in Kingston for a leisurely river cruise aboard St. Lawrence Cruise Lines’ Canadian Empress —a replica steamboat reminiscent of bygone days. Meander through the 1000 Islands, an archipelago comprised of 1,870 islands, and feast your eyes on lush scenery, sheltered coves, lavish mansions, castles and summer homes, and interesting ports of call. Short cruises, as well as 25

TtoB: Lady Dive Tours

The Ruins at MacKenzie King Estate

those that span several days, are available and special group rates apply. Meals, shore tours, on-boat activities and entertainment, and more are included in group packages. Beyond Kingston and the 1000 Islands, cruises can extend to Montréal, Québec City, Ottawa, and Upper Canada Village.

Step back onto dry land and make your way to “the 6ix,” where more attractions and adventures await. Area authority, Destination Toronto, is a great source of inspiration to maximize your visit. When it comes to landmarks, essential stops include the CN Tower, with its observation decks, revolving 360 restaurant, and exhilarating EdgeWalk, and Casa Loma , a majestic Europeanstyle estate and gardens with secret tunnels, stone towers, a photography exhibit, and a collection of early 20th century cars.

Toronto has a number of museums to explore, many with a strong Indigenous history presence, including the Royal Ontario Museum , Art Gallery of Ontario , McMichael Canadian Art Collection , and Black Creek Pioneer Village . There’s also the Museum of Illusions ,


which features amazements at every turn. Games, holograms, visual curiosities, gravity-defying rooms, and mind-tricking installations mix fun with a bit of wonder. Groups are encouraged to book their visit about two weeks in advance. Also, be sure to set foot in Bata Shoe Museum and dip your toes in the marine world of Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada.

Performing arts abound in Toronto, and two standouts are Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Mirvish Productions . The Symphony, which features world-renowned artists and performs primarily at Roy Thomson Hall, is celebrating their 100th anniversary with their ‘22/’23 season. In addition to popular holiday offerings, upcoming ‘23 highlights include Mozart Requiem, Gimeno Conducts Beethoven 5, Mandolin Magic, Tchaikovsky & Ravel , and more. Groups enjoy a savings on ticket prices and fees, and can select special add-ons for meals and beverages.

Mirvish Productions is a conglomeration of four theatres, all located in the heart of Toronto’s downtown entertainment district. Their Main Stage series features big-name, blockbuster shows and musicals, while their Off-Mirvish series presents smaller, more contemporary productions, often with more daring content. With a wide range of shows to choose from, it’s easy to find an appealing option to suit any group interest. The company maintains a solid relationship with group operators and offers discounts, add-ons, event planning, guided historic tours, and a dedicated, human-run call center to make booking a breeze.

If all of this isn’t enough, there’s one more thing: Little Canada . This highly detailed, miniature-scale exhibit gives visitors a wee glimpse of Canada— all under one roof. It’s a fascinating opportunity to travel through this vast country in just a few short hours; one that’s not to be missed! 27
Canadian & Indigenous Galleries

Tax Planning for Your Travel Business

TThe past two years have seen constant changes to tax laws in a government effort to aid struggling businesses. While helpful, it’s difficult to keep up with if you’re not an expert, which means you and your business might be losing out on big benefits.

Navigating the many tax laws out there is not an easy task, especially with the possibility of an audit dangling over your head, as unlikely as it may be. Inflation, donations, deductions, employee retention credits, remote work—these are all important financial issues that have seen change recently.

To plan properly for the next tax season, we turn to the experts like William Caldwell, CEO of Caldwell CPAs, who frequently works with businesses in the travel industry. Here are some of his top tips for keeping up with the financial times and planning for 2023.

Inflation Reduction Act. Let’s start with something that actually isn’t that much of a concern. While you may have heard this new act increases the IRS enforcement budget by $45 billion over 10 years, the idea of the agency actually finding 80,000 new people for enforcement is “a pipe dream,” according to Caldwell. There simply aren’t enough accountants out there, so don’t worry about the IRS kicking in your door anytime soon.

Employee Retention Credit. This is a huge benefit that every business owner needs to know about, a tax credit that can be claimed against wages paid in 2020 and 2021. In 2020, if your

business saw at least a 50% drop in gross receipts from 2019 (which likely applies to every business in the travel industry), you’re eligible to claim up to 50% of $10,000 in annual wages per employee. The rules changed for the first three quarters of 2021—your business only had to see a 20% drop, and you can claim up to 70% of $10,000 in wages paid each eligible quarter (Q1, Q2 and Q3 only) per employee.

It’s not too late. You still have time to take advantage of the ERC, even for 2020, and even if you received money from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

Remote Staff. There’s been a lot of discussion around the benefits and drawbacks of remote work, but it’s a financial issue, as well. If the employee is living in another state, you’ll need to be sure to register payroll accounts in their state, and file a tax return in that state. It’s also good to learn the local payroll laws. Caldwell gave an example of a business that terminated a remote employee, but didn’t know about California’s law requiring the final paycheck to be paid out days later. The check went out later, on their typical payday, resulting in a hefty fine from California.

Tax Planning = Tax Savings. Caldwell strongly suggests maximizing every possible deduction for your business. Have a home office? Utilities, renovations, pools, interest, and more can all be deducted, believe it or not. Vehicles over 6,000 lbs. can be deducted, as well. Driving from your home

28 GROUPS TODAY November/December 2022 EDUCATION


office to your regular office counts as work travel and can be deducted. Business meals can be deducted, especially in the travel industry, where every outing is an opportunity to scope for prospective destinations/attractions. If you use your home as a self-rental for staff meetings or parties, that can also be deducted.

While some of this may seem silly, and you may be worried about an audit, Caldwell emphasizes: The law is the law but take all the deductions to which you are legally entitled. For more tax advice for your business, visit 29
William Caldwell CEO of Caldwell CPAs

Janette Roush

Executive Vice President, Marketing & Digital | NYC & Company

Janette Roush came to NYC & Company in 2018 after promoting Broadway shows for 20 years—first through developing group and FIT sales relationships at, and then agency-side, creating campaigns for dozens of Broadway shows including hits like Matilda , Come From Away and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

In her current role, Roush oversees consumer marketing, B2B marketing to the travel trade and meeting planners, and campaigns that support their members during off-peak periods, such as NYC Restaurant Week, which was created by NYC & Company 30 years ago and was the first “restaurant week” program created anywhere.

Whether it’s through running programs like NYC Broadway Week or incorporating Broadway performances into press events and at trade shows, Roush says it’s special to be able to continue promoting and supporting Broadway in her current role.


When I first started in the travel industry, NYC welcomed 33 million visitors a year. In 2019, there were nearly 67 million. The doubling of our visitation numbers means twice as many potential audience members for Broadway shows, potential diners for our restaurants and visitors to our attractions, and guests to stay in our hotels—a huge opportunity for businesses who understand how to engage with the industry.

NYC & Company has created free programs like Tourism

Ready to train businesses across the City’s five boroughs on working with tour operators, creating a greater variety of wonderful product for operators to promote to all of these additional visitors, and further opportunity for local businesses to benefit from tourism. It makes New York City a wonderful place to live and one of the best places on earth to visit!


Promoting sustainable tourism will be the great legacy of people working in the industry today. Travel allows us to see perspectives outside our own, and I believe the world getting a little smaller is a wonderful thing.

How can we prioritize projects like sustainable jet fuel? Using public transportation? Spending more time in one destination rather than hopping around to multiple cities? Some of this work will fall to governments and corporations, but it’s our role to advocate for it and to encourage travel behaviors that benefit residents of a city, along with its visitors.


This is a business grounded in storytelling, both for us as sellers of travel but also for our customers who want to share the story of their experiences on social media or at happy hour after work. Our opportunity is to expand the types of stories that we’re telling to really embrace everything our destinations have to offer.

30 GROUPS TODAY November/December 2022 FIVE MINUTES WITH...

Yes, I’m excited for people to see my favorite shows on Broadway, but I also want them to visit the Bronx Terminal Market after a trip to the Bronx Zoo or the New York Botanical Garden. Visit one of our observation decks to take in the view from the sky, but follow that up with a visit to Coney Island in Brooklyn or a bite from a street vendor at Corona Plaza in Queens.

The tourism campaigns we create should reflect the diversity of the people who live in our destinations, the diversity of those we want to visit, and the enormous breadth of stories we want travelers to tell about their experiences once they’ve returned home.


I used to tell Broadway producers that “groups are people, too,”—meaning that individual members of a group see your consumer advertising . . . they don’t live on “Planet Group” where they never see your consumer discounts or messaging. Ensure your pricing and messaging through consumer channels supports the work you’re doing in B2B or group outreach.

Jamestown 31
STATEMENT OF OWNERSHIP, MAGAZINE, AND CIRCULATION 1. Publication Title: Groups Today 2. Publication No.: 023-682 3. Filing Date: August 29, 2022 4. Issue Frequency: Bi-Monthly 5. No. of Issues Published Annually: 6 6. Annual Subscription Price: Free 7. Complete Mailing Address of Known Office of Publication: Serendipity Media, LLC, 535 Cascade West Parkway SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546 8. Complete Mailing Address of Headquarters or General Business Office of Publisher: 535 Cascade West Parkway SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546 9. Full Names and Complete Mailing Addresses of Publisher, Editor: Publisher: Kasie Smith, Serendipity Media, LLC, 535 Cascade West Parkway SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546; Editorial Manager: Sarah Suydam, Serendipity Media, LLC, 535 Cascade West Parkway SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546 10. Owner: Kasie Smith, Serendipity Media, LLC, 535 Cascade West Parkway SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546 11. Known Bondholders, Mortgagees, and Other Security Holders Owning or Holding 1 Percent or More of Total Amount of Bonds, Mortgages, or Other Securities: NONE 12. Tax Status Has Not Changed During Preceding 12 Months 13. Publication Title: Groups Today 14. Issue Date for Circulation Data Below: September/October 2022 15. Extent and Nature of Circulation: Group Travel Publication Average No. Copies Average No. Copies Each Issue During Single Issue Published Preceding 12 Months Nearest Filing Date a. Total No. Copies (Net Press Run) 9,764 9,947 b. Paid and/or Requested Circulation 1. Paid/Requested Outside-County mail Subscriptions Stated on Form 3541. (Include advertiser’s proof and exchange copies) 4,737 4,795 2. Paid In-County Subscriptions (Include advertiser’s proof and exchange copies) 24 21 3. Sales Through Dealers and Carriers, street Vendors, counter Sales, and Other Non-USPS Paid Distribution 0 0 4. Other Classes Mailed Through the USPS 0 0 c. Total Paid and/or Requested Circulation (Sum of 15b(1), 15b(2), 15b(3) and 15b(4)) 4,761 4,816 d. Free Distribution by Mail (Samples, Complimentary, and other Free) 1. Outside-County as Stated on Form 3541 4,462 4,618 2. In-County as Stated on Form 3541 18 23 3. Other Classes Mailed Through the USPS 0 0 4. Free or Nominal Rate Outside the Mail 0 0 e. Total Free or Nominal Rate Distribution (Sum of 15d (1), (2), (3) and (4)) 4,480 4,641 f. Total Distribution (Sum of 15c and 15e) 9,241 9,457 g. Copies Not Distributed 50 50 h. Total (Sum of 15f and g) 9,291 9,507 i. Percent Paid (15c divided by 15f times 100) 51% 51% 16. This Statement of Ownership will be printed in the November/ December 2022 issue of this publication. 17. Signature and Title of Editor, Publisher, Business Manager, or Owner: certify that all information furnished on this form is true and complete. I understand that anyone who furnishes false or misleading information on this form or who omits material or information requested on the form may be subject to criminal sanctions (including fines and imprisonment) and/or civil sanctions (including multiple damages and civil penalties).
Smith, Publisher; August 29, 2022 AD INDEX American Bus Assocation 3 Atlantic City C4 Bureau of Engraving and Printing 29 Destination Toronto C2 Easton Town Center 12 Experience Columbus 9
Yorktown Foundation 7 Maryland Office of Tourism 15 Milwaukee Public Museum 5 New Orleans & Company 17 Royal Ontario Museum 25 St. Landry Parish Tourist Commission 7 St. Lawrence Cruise Lines 27 The Group Company C3 Top of the Rock Observation Deck 8 Toronto Symphony Orchestra 27 Tourism Cares 32 Tourism Council of Frederick County 5 Visit Colorado Springs 15 Visit Milwaukee 29 Zoo Atlanta 29 ADVERTISER PAGE

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