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Get to know Tour Colorado

Glacier National Park, Colo. Credit: Adobe Stock

As the only statewide organization marketing Colorado to domestic tour operators and group travel leaders, Tour Colorado’s goal is to increase the packaged travel market to Colorado.

“All Tour Colorado members are tour and travel professionals who promote this beautiful state,” said Julianne Fredrick, director at Tour Colorado. “Our members represent visitor and convention bureaus, chambers of commerce and resort organizations, tour operators and receptive operators, guide services, lodging, attractions, restaurants and transportation.”

We chatted with Frederick to learn more about the organization and what groups can expect from a visit to the state.

Q. What makes Colorado a great place for a group tour?

Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs, Colo.
Credit: Adobe Stock

A. It’s Colorado — we’ve got it all! We have so much diversity in our offerings. We have big, wide-open spaces for those groups desiring outdoor-focused itineraries. We have four national parks, 42 state parks and so many beautiful views!

Our national monuments and scenic byways are also open for exploration. We have historic trains, chuckwagon dinners, museums and many other activities groups will love. And, of course, our Colorado hospitality!

Q. How can Tour Colorado assist tour operators in planning their Colorado tours?

Mesa Verde National Park, Colo.
Credit: Matthew Inden/Miles

A. We can assist with itinerary planning and connecting the operators with the right people to create the perfect group itinerary. We also have our Tour Colorado Planning Guide and Tour Colorado website, which are great resources for tour operators.

Q. Are you noticing any trends in group travel to Colorado right now?

A. We’ve noticed some smaller groups, which allows them the opportunity to get into different, more unique places, like hitting the state parks or going into more secluded areas because they don’t have as many people.

But we are also seeing operators bringing full buses again, so we’re really seeing a range, in terms of group size. We’re just seeing the numbers of groups steadily climbing back, and that’s great!

Q. Is there anything new in Colorado that groups should know about?

A. The Broadmoor Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway is open again after being closed for several years because of construction. We also have a new luxury train called the Rocky Mountaineer, and that’s running from Denver, Colorado, to Moab, Utah, with a stop in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. It is absolutely amazing! There’s also the new United States Olympic & Paralympic Museum in Colorado Springs.

Q. How is Tour Colorado involved in the Care for Colorado Coalition? How can group travelers help preserve the natural beauty of the state? 

A. We are Care for Colorado Stewardship Partners. Group travelers and travel leaders can help by following the Care for Colorado Leave No Trace Principals. We’re trying to get this information into the operators’ hands so they can share it with their guests. 

Q. What else do you want tour operators to know right now?

A. Our warm, friendly Colorado is open for business, and we look forward to having everyone visit our state soon!

For more information about Tour Colorado, call 888-401-4330 or visit tourcolorado.org.


Main photo: Glacier National Park, Colo.; Credit: Adobe Stock

Alpine Helen White County CVB 

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Alpine Helen/White County CVB

Old World towers, gingerbread trim, traditional German foodstuffs and strasses and platzes spilling over with Scandinavian goods. A natural beauty perched on the Chattahoochee River in the Northeast Georgia Mountains, Alpine Helen and White County is home to a flourishing arts community: glass shops, art studios and, specifically, The Sautee Nacoochee Center: Visual and Performing Arts, the Helen Arts and Heritage Council, the Folk Pottery Museum of Northeast Georgia. Savor a sip at one of our 6 wineries. Shop at more than 150 shops including the nostalgic Old Sautee Store, Babyland General Hospital home of the Cabbage Patch Kids.


Alpine Helen White County CVB

Alpine Helen/White County CVB

726 Bruckenstrasse PO Box 730
Helen, Georgia 30545
Phone: 706-878-3842
E-Mail: jbrown@helenga.org
Web: www.helenga.org

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Q&A with Norma Dobrowolski of Ocean City, Maryland

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Ocean City Beach Credit: Ocean City CVB

Ocean City, Maryland, welcomes group tours with 10 miles of Atlantic Ocean beach, a 3-mile Boardwalk, wildlife areas, historical museums and 10,000 hotels rooms. An attentive tourism department puts the cap on a memorable itinerary by taking time to thank visitors for coming.

We talked with Norma Dobrowolski, destination sales, marketing and CVB manager at the Ocean City Convention & Visitors Bureau, to learn what tour groups can expect from a visit.

Q. Tell us about yourself. What is your role with the tourism bureau?

A. I have been with the Ocean City MD Department of Tourism/CVB for 25 years this summer! I feel like it has gone by in five years, not 25! There has hardly ever been two days alike. I began in public/visitor relations, added group tour and travel and then also membership management of the CVB. Add in a bit of advertising and the travel shows and it has been very busy and fulfilling.

Ocean City
Norma Dobrowolski
Credit: Ocean City CVB

Q. How do you describe Ocean City to someone who has never visited before?

A. What always strikes me about Ocean City is the wide, clean beach and looking out across the ocean. It just strikes your imagination about what is going on across the sea and yet can also clear your mind to see that wide expanse of water and the sounds of the sea.

Q. What makes Ocean City a unique destination?

A. We are such a rural drive yet large metropolitan areas of Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Baltimore are just three hours away and Pittsburgh and New York are within a day’s drive. Folks can really leave the city behind and relax within hours of home.

Q. Why should tour operators bring their groups to Ocean City?

A. Along with our 10 miles of beach, we have an award-winning 3-mile Boardwalk that is really popular. Arcades, fun food and shops along with people-watching are some great experiences as folks enjoy all we have to offer.

We are surrounded by water, and there are soft water activities like fishing and boat tours and parasailing and jet skis for the more adventuresome.

Ocean City
Assateague Island ponies
Credit: Ocean City CVB

Q. What’s one stop in Ocean City that groups should not miss?

A. Most every group discovers the wild ponies at Assateague Island National Seashore Park. They are wild and charming with their folklore background and unique herds.

Q. What services does the bureau offer to tour operators?

A. We are happy to meet and greet upon request. We enjoy that very much, to be able to actually thank folks for visiting Ocean City on behalf of our mayor and council and the Department of Tourism.

We usually can provide a small gift, brochures, and information or coupon booklets to help visitors make the most of their time here and enjoy all they can.

Q. Is there anything else tour planners should know about Ocean City?

A. They will get their very best rates and availability Sunday through Thursdays. That is the opposite pattern of larger cities but because we are a resort town there is value to be found in visiting weekdays with us. Spring and fall are wonderful times to be here and best for value in planning.

For more information, visit ococean.com.

Main photo: Ocean City Beach; Credit: Ocean City CVB

Dayton House 

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Dayton House

A central location in a quiet semi-tropical setting with 328 rooms including 96 two-room suites. All rooms except the suites have 2 queen beds, kitchenettes, and private balconies. We have three swimming pools, three hot tub whirlpools, Lazy River and exercise room. We are located close to shows, the Convention Center, shopping malls, restaurants, and sight seeing. Large oceanfront lawn area with umbrellas, and tables in front of all our buildings.


Member: NTA

Bus Parking: Yes
Bus Parking Fee: No charge.
Driver Rate: Same as group.
Escort Rate: Same as group.
Deposit and Payment Policy: $200 initial deposit. Deposit equal to 1 night 45 days prior to arrival.
Cancellation and Refund Policy: 45 days prior to arrival.


Nearby Attractions that Influence Group Travel:

  • Convention Center
  • All Shows
  • Broadway at the Beach and Barefoot Landing
  • Gardens
  • Plantation
  • Shopping Malls

Type of Facility: Resort
Tax: 10%
Number of Rooms: 327
Number of Floors: 15
Elevator: Yes
Restaurant: Nearby
Baggage Transfer: $2 round trip.
Welcome Reception: If requested.

Features:

  • Air Conditioning
  • Fitness Center
  • Gift Shop
  • Handicap Accessible
  • Cable TV
  • Indoor Pool
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Private In-Room Safes
  • Lazy River
  • Whirlpools

Off Season Rates: $40- $60
Off Season Dates: September 19 – May 12
In Season Rates: $90 up
In Season Dates: May 13 – September 18
Special Dates: Holidays


Dayton House

2400 North Ocean Blvd
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina 29577
Phone: 843-448-2441
Fax: 843-448-5957
E-mail: diane@daytonhouse.com
Web: www.daytonhouse.com

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Use Instagram Reels to grow your tour planning business

Confession time. I am often baffled by technology. Let’s face it, my grandkids are the ones who end up teaching me a thing or two when it comes to using social platforms. Recently, my grandkids have been sharing Instagram Reels and I realized how useful the format can be for tour operators marketing their business.  

Instagram Reels are short video clips you can share with all the users of Instagram. Considering the domestic audience is over 155 million active users and growing each day, the potential is huge. And, unlike Stories, another Instagram option focused on real-time events, Reels do not vanish after 24 hours. Users will be able to view and share Reels for a longer time. Instagram has a dedicated tab within the platform users can click to interact with Reels content. 

Although short in duration, at least 15 seconds up to 60 seconds long, Reels allow companies to focus more on content. Creative touches such as full-length captions, audio clips, visual effects and tags can be added to allow people to interact with Reels.   

Here are some ideas tour planners can use to engage with audiences and build brand awareness using Instagram Reels.  

Share insider content 

Behind-the-scenes content helps authenticate your business, making you relatable and setting you up as an expert in the field. Next time you are exploring a destination, take time to showcase lodging, transportation and excursions that may make up a travel package you sell. Tell a personal story about your experience to build a special connection with your followers. Stories make a huge impact and go a long way in building trust. 

Answer questions 

Providing a solution for your followers is an excellent way to use Reels. Practical tips, such as packing advice, navigating airports or the benefits of using a travel planner are examples of travel topics that appeal to a large audience. This type of content offers value and can help generate followers quickly. 

Promote upcoming deals 

By using a combination of photos and video snippets, you can provide insight into an upcoming deal on a specific tour or itinerary. Using captions within a Reel is a great way to add a call to action, asking users to get in touch or pointing them to a particular deal. Make the most of trending topics to create a promotion such as Romantic Getaways in time for Valentine’s Day.  

As with other platforms, test messages and post content often to determine what resonates with your audience. Tour operators who want to grow their business can rely on Instagram Reels to provide them with outstanding engagement potential. 

Chanhassen Dinner Theatres 

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Chanhassen Dinner Theatres

For nearly 50 years, Chanhassen Dinner Theatres audiences have enjoyed Broadway-caliber musicals in an atmosphere of Minnesotan warmth, charm and elegance. Treat your group to a unique dining and theatre experience that everyone will be certain to remember.

Upon arrival, all motor coach groups are greeted by our tuxedo-clad Emcee, then welcomed into one of three theatres for relaxed tableside service with entrees selected from a delicious menu prior to the start of the show. From musicals, to concerts and comedy, CDT has a show for every group. To further enhance the experience, groups may request complimentary pre-show backstage tours or post-show Q&A sessions. 

2017-2018 shows will include the final performances of the perennial favorite Grease, (March 4- September 23) and an encore engagement of the recent CDT hit Sister Act (September 29-Febraury 24, 2018).

With performances all year, Chanhassen Dinner Theatres is located just minutes from the Twin Cites most popular attractions, including Paisley Park, Mall of America, and both downtown Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Groups of 12 or more receive discounted pricing and priority seat section.

The Los Angeles Times calls Chanhassen “one of the very best dinner theatres in the country,” and AAA Magazine states, “any Twin Cities trip should include an evening at Chanhassen!”

Attraction Type: Theatre
Group Rates: $63.06 – $ 97.52 inclusive
Special Rates: Varies by show & day of week
1 complimentary tickets for every 20 tickets purchased

Seasonal Dates: Open year round

Bus Parking: Yes
Driver Rate: Complimentary meal, stand-by ticket to the show
Deposit and Payment Policy: 10% deposit upon booking. Final count 1 month prior, final payment due 3 weeks prior.
Cancellation and Refund Policy: Non-refunable sale; generous weather policy

Nearby Attractions :

  • Mall of America (15 miles)
  • Minnesota Landscape Arboretum (4 miles)
  • Paisley Park (2 miles)
  • Mystic Lake (13 miles)

501 W 78th St
PO Box 100
Chanhassen, Minnesota 55317
Phone: (952) 934-1547
Phone: (800) 355-6273
Fax: (952) 934-1511
E-mail: groupsales@chanhassendt.com
Web: www.chanhassendt.com

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GrandStay Hospitality welcomes groups to its portfolio of hotel locations

If you’ve traveled to the Midwest, there’s a chance you’ve seen or stayed at a GrandStay hotel. With more than 30 locations, and growing, GrandStay is a hotel franchisor based in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area with properties in seven Midwest states and Oregon.

“GrandStay offers more than just a hotel room,” said Peggi Monico, vice president of sales and marketing at GrandStay Hospitality. “Our GrandStay family of hotels provides every guest with warm, friendly service and a wide variety of amenities all in a relaxed atmosphere.  Every guest starts the day off right with GrandStay’s complimentary hot and cold breakfast buffet — Grand Start Breakfast. Other amenities include free high-speed internet, indoor pool and whirlpool, and luxurious bedding.”

GrandStay Tea-Sioux Falls, Tea, S.D.
Credit: Grandstay Hospitality

Each GrandStay property is individually owned and operated under a license with GrandStay Hospitality, LLC. Monico said five new hotels will be added to the roster in the near future.

“In the Midwest, we range from Rapid City, South Dakota, to Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and from Thief River Falls, Minnesota, to Pella, Iowa,” she said.

Tour operators will love the ease of booking, with one point of contact. Group details can be emailed to info@grandstayhospitality.com. The general manager at each property is hands-on with tour operators and works with them from start to finish.

GrandStay New London-Spicer, Spicer, Minn.
Credit: GrandStay Hospitality

“We offer a meet and greet upon arrival with welcome beverages and snack,” Monico said. “Complimentary room accommodations will be extended based on the number of guest rooms. We hope groups remember our properties as having friendly service and wonderful accommodations in unique settings.”

Popular GrandStay locations for groups

  • At GrandStay® La Crosse, in the historic downtown of La Crosse, Wisconsin, groups will find accommodating one- and two-bedroom suites with fully equipped kitchens. Groups can congregate in the on-site meeting room and those staying for an extended period can take advantage of the on-site laundry facilities. Nearby attractions include Riverside International Friendship Gardens, walking trails, the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse Queen Cruises and the annual La Crosse Oktoberfest event.
  • At GrandStay® Faribault, in Faribault, Minnesota, groups will have an easy commute to all the attractions in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, located just 40 miles north. The hotel offers a selection of suites with fully equipped kitchens, ideal accommodations for experiencing the historic Minnesota city.
  • GrandStay® Valley City, in Valley City, North Dakota, is located in the heart of the state’s scenic Sheyenne River Valley. The modern hotel offers a selection of deluxe rooms and kitchenette extended stay suites; a meeting room; and GrandStay® Pantry, which offers a range of drinks, snacks, and convenience items. Nearby attractions include Sheyenne River Valley Scenic Byway and Medicine Wheel Park.
  • Gaming groups will enjoy GrandStay® Columbus-Forest Lake (Running Aces) at Running Acres Casino, Hotel & Racetrack in Minnesota. Groups will find a full-service hotel, meeting facilities and a Las Vegas-style card room with live summer harness horse racing, year-round Simulcast wagering, trout fishing and a full-service restaurant. Rooms include double queen and king, executive king and suites featuring full kitchens. Running Aces Casino features blackjack, pai gow, three- and four-card poker, all limits in Texas Hold’em, daily poker tournaments with various buy-ins, entertainment, bingo and various events throughout the year.

For more information, visit grandstayhospitality.com.


Main photo: GrandStay Valley City, North Dakota; Credit: GrandStay Hospitality

3 Arlington group favorites reopen

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Arlington
National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial Credit: ACVS

Arlington, Virginia, just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., holds numerous museums and memorials with national significance.

Three major Arlington sites have recently finished renovations and are re-opened for groups, according to the Arlington Convention and Visitors Service.

“There are several important factors a tour operator should consider when deciding what to include on their group tour itinerary,” said Portia Conerly, director of sales for Arlington Convention and Visitors Service. “Are the group tours educational and relevant, free and accessible and have they been recently renovated and updated? The 9/11 Pentagon Memorial, the DEA Museum and the Military Women’s Memorial meet those considerations.”

National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial

The National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial was dedicated in 2008. “The 9/11 Pentagon Memorial was created to remember, honor and observe those family members and friends who are no longer with us because of the events of September 11, 2001, at the Pentagon,” Conerly said. Open 24/7, the 2-acre outdoor memorial’s design features a bench to honor each victim’s memory and life. Trees and flowing water are also part of the poignant memorial.

Groups can arrange a docent-led tour of the memorial. Many docents have a personal connection to the 9/11 attacks and not only shed light on the series of events that led up to them, but also provide a personal perspective on the events of the day.

A Visitor Education Center at the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial is aiming for a fall 2025 opening.

DEA Museum

Arlington is home to the headquarters of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the free DEA Museum. “The DEA Museum is a hands-on, interactive, educational experience of how drug use and prevention impacts our society throughout history and today,” Conerly said.

DEA Museum
Credit: ACVS

Staff at and partners of the DEA Museum have reimagined the museum, which originally opened in 1999. Two years of planning, design and construction has resulted in a colorful, contemporary space. New exhibits cover the history of drug use, explain how drugs can affect the body and portray the work of DEA agents. The museum includes 40 hands-on activities, artifacts and a changing exhibit space.

The artifact collection contains everything from hundred-year-old medicine bottles to a seized Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

Military Women’s Memorial

The Military Women’s Memorial was established in 1997 and is the only historical repository documenting all military women’s service. The memorial, located at the ceremonial entrance to Arlington National Cemetery, features an education center, interactive exhibitions, a world-class collection of military women’s stories, and engaging programs and events for all ages.

The Pledge at Military Women’s Memorial
Credit: ACVS

Now reopen after renovations, the memorial honors all women who have served courageously, selflessly and with dedication.

“The Military Women’s Memorial is a world-class collection of military women’s stories, and includes The Pledge, the first monument in the nation’s capital to honor all women of the U.S. military,” Conerly said.

For more information

As group tour planners prepare to visit Arlington, the Arlington Convention and Visitors Service encourages them to consult the official website of the Arlington County government for valuable information regarding tour buses.

For any other information about tour planning, people can contact Portia Conerly at the Arlington Convention and Visitors Service, at pconerly@arlingtonva.us or 703-228-0873.

Main Image: National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial; Credit: ACVS

Gage Marine / Lake Geneva Cruise Line 

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Lake Geneva Cruise Line

A boat tour with Lake Geneva Cruise Line is the ultimate Lake Geneva experience! Take a trip back in history as you cruise the lake in comfort, hearing a narrated history of the lake and the beautiful estates that line its shores. From our Luncheon Cruise to our famous US Mailboat Tour, we have the perfect boat tour for your group!

With over 50 years of combined group tour experience, the staff at Lake Geneva Cruise Line is here to make your planning easy. We can assist you with choosing the tour that best fits your needs, provide assistance with itinerary layout and even book group packages with other area attractions and restaurants.

What we offer – just to groups:

  • Group rates for groups of 10-19 and 20 or more people on our regular season tours. (Group rates ONLY for 20 or more on Santa Cruises. No group rates on Saturdays for Santa Cruise.)  
  • Complimentary fare for group leader and bus driver (pending group size)
  • Flexible deposit, payment and cancellation policies
  • Excellent customer service providing in-depth knowledge of the Lake Geneva area
  • Complimentary bus parking and easy loading and unloading
  • “Step on” group greeting by a member of our staff, and personal escort to your boat
  • Personal group welcome once on board your tour
  • Packages that include area restaurants and attractions – “One call does it all” when making your group reservation
  • Area map and shopping information available

Public Tours:

  • Geneva Bay  Tour
  • Full Lake Tour
  • US Mailboat Tour
  • Black Point Estate Tour
  • Ice Cream Social
  • Luncheon Cruise
  • Sunday Brunch Buffet Cruise
  • Supper Club Dinner Cruise
  • Jazz Dinner Cruise
  • Cocktail Cruise

812 Wrigley Dr, 
Lake Geneva, WI 53147
Phone: 262-248-6206
E-Mail: susan@glcl.net
Web: www.cruiselakegeneva.com

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The Virginia 2022-23 Group Travel Guide is available online

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Virginia 2022-23 Group Travel Guide

The Group Tour Virginia 2022-23 Group Travel Guide is available to read online. Features include:

Virginia Beach

Chincoteague Island

Newport News

Charlottesville & Albemarle County

Prince William County

Winchester-Frederick County

Heart of Appalachia region

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