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5 ways to make the most of downtime

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Travel planning

Don’t stare into the abyss; reframe your mindset. The travel industry’s evolving climate is an opportunity to map a future that will grow your tour business.

“Persistence and resilience only come from having been given the chance to work through difficult problems.” — Gever Tulley

Become a tourism resource

Take the lead in reporting travel information where you plan tours. Update your business’ blog with posts that equip travelers with facts regarding safety guidelines from health officials. Discuss your tour destinations’ current and future plans, and reassure clients and prospective groups that this too shall pass.

Evaluate emergency protocols

The COVID-19 pandemic has most likely made you rethink how to handle a serious illness during a tour. Create a plan to retrain your team on what to do in challenging situations, like an illness, a seizure, a tornado, a hotel power outage or a motorcoach break-down. When it’s time to travel again, keep a digital or physical binder that lists the written steps for each scenario.

Update your web presence

When was the last time your company’s “about” section was updated on Facebook or your website? Draft a plan on what to post every day on each social media platform. Take time to tweak your headers and landing pages, and create a gallery on your website with photos from recent tours. Don’t forget to update your accomplishments on your personal and business LinkedIn pages.

Research new attractions

Surf the web for new tour destinations opening in 2021 and 2022. Fine-tune your itineraries with specific details, like a stop at the best local coffeeshop or a quaint giftshop. Add suggestions that are within walking-distance during free-time. Become an expert on your tour destination’s unique facts. Which celebrities live in the area? Are any of the historic buildings haunted?

Plan for an influx

When travel restrictions are lifted and cabin fever is over, people all over the world will be itching to travel. Draft a plan to help your business handle the number of bookings. Via the marketing avenue of your choice, share a regularly updated summary of facts and implications. In coming months, prospective clients will want to know when it’s safe to book travel again.

We know your business will emerge from this crisis stronger, wiser and prepared for the bright future of travel. We are here for you, and we are listening. Share your thoughts at subscriptions@grouptour.com.

Kentucky itinerary: ‘Only in Oldham’ experiences

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Oldham County
Hermitage Farm Tour Credit: Oldham County KY Tourism & Conventions

Oldham County, Kentucky, is a unique Kentucky hub that’s home to all things Kentucky in one cool place — conveniently located 25 minutes from downtown Louisville and 70 minutes from the Ark Encounter on Interstate 71.

Oldham County is the home of craft bourbon, 13 farm tours, trains on Main Street, the Official Milliner of the Kentucky Derby and two underground railroad designations by the National Park Service. The county also just received a designation as a stop on the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail.

Oldham County
Kim Hydes
Credit: Oldham County KY Tourism & Conventions

Kim Buckler Hydes, longtime executive director of Oldham County KY Tourism & Conventions, said, “Oldham County has become Kentucky’s go-to destination for groups looking for the perfect option outside the major cities, yet close enough to enjoy new attractions the city has to offer.”

“Not only do we offer many attractions found ‘Only in Oldham,’ we offer lower hotel room taxes and priceless complimentary itinerary planning, with Oldham Group Perks that are only available through the Oldham County Tourism office,” Hydes said. “Two such perks are a one-payment option for all things in your Oldham County itinerary in advance of your visit, and gratuity-only step-on. All things Kentucky can be found right here, just 25 minutes from downtown Louisville and 70 minutes from the Ark Encounter. Only in Oldham.”

Experience Oldham

Farm tours
Credit: Oldham County KY Tourism & Conventions

From April–November in Oldham County, the Farm Tour Capital of Kentucky, tour planners learn about 13 different farms offering tours. Booking for 2022 and 2023 tours started early this year. During the pandemic, one of the popular horse farm tours opened a farm-to-table restaurant known as Barn8, and another a racehorse retirement farm (owned by the CEO of Churchill Downs) opened its doors to tourism in Oldham County. Other farm options include horses, alpaca, bison, a dairy, sheep, conservation and foodie farms, botanical gardens and nature preserves. Groups enjoy Southern hospitality, delicious Kentucky comfort food and experiences that create memories lasting a lifetime.

Explore the Underground Railroad

History Center Archives Building
Credit: Oldham County KY Tourism & Conventions

Oldham County holds two Underground Railroad designations from the National Park Service Network to Freedom. Learn about the county’s freedom seekers and Underground Railroad conductors who at great risk, sought to abolish the institution of slavery. Tour the History Center museum and enjoy a catered lunch with expert speakers and re-enactors. Come learn about the Underground Railroad along the Ohio River. The newest book written by Nancy Theiss, executive director of the History Center, is A Tour on the Underground Railroad along the Ohio River, and it was published during the pandemic.

Sip or reminisce

Oldham County
Kentucky Artisan Distillery
Credit: Oldham County KY Tourism & Conventions

Kentucky Artisan Distillery is the only distillery on I-71 between Cincinnati, Ohio, and Louisville, Kentucky. This one-of-a-kind ice-cream-factory-turned-distillery offers a tour as uncommon as the bourbons themselves. Learn about the secret, behind-the-scenes world of three high-end bourbon brands, Jefferson’s, Whiskey Row and Billy Goat Strut, while being fascinated by distilling antiques from the owner’s collection. This is a favorite on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour®, awarded “The Perfect Manhattan” by Esquire magazine, and is found only in Oldham.

Rest your head

La Grange
Credit: Oldham County KY Tourism & Conventions

Oldham County welcomed its newest 84-room Holiday Inn Express & Suites, just minutes from where guests can shop and dine in the only town in the world with a freight train running on its Main Street. Interested in Kentucky’s newest drive-in movie theater? It’s available from April–October and is found only in Oldham. 

For more information, contact Kim Hydes at 800-813-9953 or visit OldhamKYGroups.com for a live chat!


Idaho Division of Tourism Development

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Idaho Division of Tourism

700 W State St
PO Box 83720
Boise, Idaho 83720-0093
Phone: (208) 780-5153
Fax: 208-334-2631
E-Mail: matt.borud@commerce.idaho.gov
Web: www.visitidaho.org

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Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Museum & Library

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Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Museum & Library

543 Indiana Avenue
Indianapolis, Indiana 46202
Phone: (317) 423-0391
E-Mail: julia.whitehead@vonnegutlibrary.org
Web: www.vonnegutlibrary.org

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Oregon Itinerary: Medford

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Courtesy of Travel Medford

“Medford is the heart of the Rogue Valley in Southern Oregon and the meeting point of the west with ample outdoor recreation, cascade cuisine, a world-class wine country and a Tony Award-winning theater.”

–Travel Medford

EXPLORE

Created by a violent volcanic eruption, Crater Lake National Park is home to the nation’s deepest lake. Boat and trolley tours (unavailable at the time of publication) provide stunning views of deep blue waters beside the Cascade Mountain Range along with educational narration.

Momentum River Expeditions. Credit: Courtesy of Travel Medford

Fly through the historic gold mining hills of Southern Oregon with Rogue Valley Zipline Adventure. Select a classic zip line tour or opt for something with a bit more to experience in the Medford region with the Zip, Dip & Sip Tour.

Momentum River Expeditions offers rafting trips down the Rogue River.

GO

Medford and the Rogue Valley might be known as a wine region, but it’s also home to sprawling purple lavender fields. Spend an afternoon walking through the aromatic fields at a number of lavender farms, like Dos Mariposas Vineyards & Lavender Farm or English Lavender Farm.

SEE

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF), founded in 1935, features three theaters, with two indoor stages and its flagship outdoor Allen Elizabethan Theatre. Enjoy works by Shakespeare, classics, musicals and world-premiere plays. OSF offers group pricing and is a member of the American Bus Association.

Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Credit: Courtesy of Travel Medford

Venture through several exhibits located throughout four galleries at Rogue Gallery & Art Center. The Main Gallery hosts eight to 10 exhibitions a year, while the Community Gallery’s smaller space is perfect for special themed exhibits and one-artist exhibits.

Travel Medford
800-469-6307
travelmedford.org

The November 2021 issue of Group Tour magazine is available online.

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November 2021 Group Tour Magazine
The November 2021 issue of Group Tour magazine is available online.

What’s inside >>

Ready, set, let’s adventure

Encompassing millions of acres of land, U.S. state parks parade endless recreation

Also…

Indiana and Ohio’s Amish life

Vermont winter fun

Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail

North Carolina group favorites

Wichita’s group experiences

22 things to do in Texas in 2022

Shopping and Gaming Guide

Group travel planners qualify for a 100% free subscription to Group Tour magazine.  Subscribe Today!

Content is key to growing your business

great content writing word cloud on a digital tbalet with a cup of coffee - business writing and content marketing concept

Content marketing is a great way to increase your company’s visibility to your target audience. The strategic marketing approach involves creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain your audience to ultimately drive your customers to act. By implementing content marketing tactics, you can increase brand awareness, showcase your authority and expertise in the market, and help your organic search traffic and social media engagement. Instead of just pitching your business to prospects, you’re providing them with relevant and useful information that’ll help them and keep you top of mind. It’s a win-win!

Taking the time to build content that is educational and informative about aspects of your industry is a terrific opportunity to establish trust with your audience. Press releases are one option to help open doors to new clients. Topics can include noteworthy business partnerships, case studies or showcasing that your business as a credible solution to a problem.

Another content building opportunity is to seek options for free editorial. Contact a publication within your area of experience for distribution. For example, Group Tour magazine publishes Spotlight, a monthly interview with a group travel professional highlighting their business and industry trends. This is an opportunity for colleagues to learn from one another, and potentially network. Your customers can also benefit from seeing this content — you can share the link in a newsletter to your audience or on social media.

Blogging is another great way to share information with your audience. Choose topics that your customers or prospects care about — whether its travel safety, packing tips, trending travel destinations or even the benefits of group travel. Publish the blogs to your website consistently and be sure to share links to your blogs on social media, too. Alternatively, seek another business you can partner with that has an existing blog and request the opportunity to appear as a guest. This tactic builds great relationships within the industry.

Content marketing introduces you to a larger audience that regular marketing material may miss. Additionally, people reading the material are likely to share articles that are helpful to them allowing you to further expand your audience. Your content will get further attention when distributed via social media and email. Additionally, expanding your editorial content library will increase your search engine ranking, which is important to drive more visitors to your business. (For more information on SEO ranking read our article: Tips to improve your SEO.) Written content lets you demonstrate your knowledge, experience and authority without primarily focusing on selling your good or service. Use content marketing to get your business in the public eye, put you in a position of being an expert in the field, and help grow your business.

Discover all Lackawanna County has to offer

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Credit: Courtesy of Lackawanna County Visitors Bureau / Photo by Rebekah Smith

Located in the northeast corner of Pennsylvania, Lackawanna County offers something for every group. The county, named for a picturesque river that flows through it, encompasses both city and countryside, and offers a wide variety of itinerary options. 

“There is something for everyone in Lackawanna County,” said Alexa Peregrim, sales manager at Lackawanna County Visitors Bureau. “Each season is filled with events, attractions and activities. We also pride ourselves on customizing itineraries based on the group’s interests, so they are guaranteed a great time. We love to help group planners design a trip that is unique and provides unforgettable memories.”

Lackawanna County Visitors Bureau can provide groups with custom itineraries, logistical planning, marketing materials, housing assistance and welcome bags.

“We hope groups truly enjoy their time in Lackawanna County,” Peregrim said. “We want to make it a memorable experience full of laughter, relaxed fun, reconnection to themselves and their friends, while also making new friends in the area.”

History on display 

Interactive historical sites and museums showcase Lackawanna County’s past. The county, including its largest city, Scranton, saw rapid development at the turn of the 20th century by producing coal during the growth of steel production. The region played a paramount role in the Industrial Revolution. At the time, mining opportunities in the region drew immigrants from around the world, and that culture and heritage is still prevalent today. 

Steamtown National Historic Site, Scranton
Photo: Kenny Ganz

At Steamtown National Historic Site in downtown Scranton, the only national park dedicated solely to the history of steam railroading, groups see steam locomotives on display, as well as restored cabooses, freight cars and passenger coaches. The 52-acre site includes a roundhouse with an operational turntable and an active locomotive repair shop. The museum complex features a visitor center, history and technology museums and a 250-seat theater that shows the park’s orientation film, “Steel and Steam.” Groups can even hop aboard a historic steam locomotive for 15–30-minute round-trip rides.  

Also located on the Steamtown National Historic Site grounds, Electric City Trolley Museum features interactive exhibits and displays, including vintage trolleys. The museum commemorates the first successfully operational electric-powered streetcar system in the U.S Groups can ride on an authentic 1926 or 1932 antique trolley for a 5½-mile trip.

The region’s mining history comes alive at The Lackawanna County Coal Mine Tour. Visitors descend 300 feet into the earth in a mine car while watching the sky slowly disappear. Guides then lead an underground walking tour through gangways and tunnels while explaining the history and methods used in the mining process. Afterward, groups should visit the Anthracite Heritage Museum to learn the history of hard coal mining, its related industries and the immigrant culture of Northeastern Pennsylvania. 

Savor and sip 

In Lackawanna County, pizzerias reign supreme. The county is home to more than 160 locally owned pizza shops, with many among them serving a style of pizza unique to the region, called Old Forge. The new Lackawanna County Pizza Trail spotlights 63 of the best pizzerias (chosen by locals), many that easily welcome tour groups. A pizza trail passport is currently being developed. 

Arcaro & Genell, Old Forge
Photo: Courtesy of Lackawanna County Visitors Bureau

“We will have a list of group friendly locations that can fit large bus groups as well as a list of take-out locations, so if a group wanted to go to an attraction and try some pizza places nearby, we can give them some takeout options,” Peregrim said. 

Another fun trail option is the Lackawanna County Wine Trail, which features 10 wineries and tasting rooms throughout the region. Groups can sip and sample unique blends and styles of wine, many with recipes that have been passed through generations. 

Just for fun

Dwight Schrute mural, On&On marketplace, Scranton
Photo: Courtesy of Lackawanna County Visitors Bureau

For some, the city of Scranton is synonymous with the hit NBC TV show The Office. Fans of the show can participate in The Office Self-Guided Walking Tour, which features spots made famous by the series. Try out the Dunder Mifflin staff’s favorite pizza at Alfredo’s Pizza Cafe; order a lobster dinner at Cooper’s Seafood House; or grab a drink at the Dunder Mifflin crew’s favorite bar, Poor Richard’s Pub. There’s even a Dwight Schrute mural on the side of the building that houses On&On marketplace, where groups can find one-of-a-kind vintage, handmade and repurposed items. 

Touted as the only building devoted to Harry Houdini in the world, the Houdini Museum in Scranton is a rare treat and group favorite. Groups can take a guided tour of the 150-year-old historic building before enjoying an hourlong stage magic show with professional magicians and live animals. The museum even features rare film footage of Harry Houdini not seen anywhere else.

For more information, call 570-468-8625 or visit visitnepa.org.

Chicago Southland CVB

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Chicago Southland CVB
Chicago Southland CVB Lotton Art Glass
Chicago Southland CVB Lotton Art Glass

Just Beyond the City Limits and 30 minutes from Chicago, rest the 63 south/southwest municipalities of the Chicago Southland. With accessibility to interstates 55, 57, 80, 94, 294 and 355, the Chicago Southland is convenient and affordable with an abundance of hotel brands you can trust, complimentary Wi-Fi and FREE Motorcoach parking. The Chicago Southland has activities for both student groups (performance venues, teambuilding activities and various educational opportunities) and adults (arts and culture, major league sports teams and fine dining). The Chicago Southland is centrally located near museums, casinos, zoos and more. Sample itineraries are available at TourChicagoSouthland.com. The Chicago Southland CVB will provide welcome amenities upon arrival.


Member: ABA, OMCA, NTA, SYTA


Type: CVB
Tour Services:

  • Attractions
  • Lodging
  • Theater
  • Brochures
  • Transportation
  • Dining/Banquet
  • Group Planner
  • Photos
  • Shopping
  • Step-on-Guide
  • Itinerary Planning

Nearby Attractions that Influence Group Travel:

  • Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre
  • HITS Chicago-Balmoral Park
  • Accelerate Indoor Speedway & Events
  • Lotton Art Glass Gallery & Studios
  • The Shrine of Christ’s Passion
  • Historic Pullman Center – Pullman National Monument
  • Odyssey Fun World
  • Windy City ThunderBolts
  • Brookfield Zoo
  • Homewood Railroad Platform & Park
  • Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park
  • Frankfort Historic District
  • TOYOTA PARK – home of the Chicago Fire Major League Soccer Team

Chicago Southland CVB

19900 Governors Drive, Suite 200
Olympia Fields, Illinois 60461-6006
Phone: 708-895-8200
Phone: 888-895-3211
Fax: 708-895-8288
E-mail: GroupTour@VisitChicagoSouthland.com
Web: VisitChicagoSouthland.com

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What’s new and coming to The Palm Beaches

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Credit: Courtesy of TravMedia USA

The Palm Beaches, Florida, is noted as America’s First Resort Destination, featuring 39 cities and towns. The next year and beyond will bring some welcome changes and expansions to the vacation destination, including accommodation renovations, new culture experiences and much more.

Hotels & accommodations

Set to open in early 2022, Banyan Cay Resort & Golf will be the first full-service Hyatt-branded property in Palm Beach County. Designed in a West Indies style, guests will be treated to 150 rooms and suites, 22 three-bedroom villas and several amenities — including a spa, two on-site restaurants, swimming pool with a poolside tiki bar, six tennis courts and 18 holes of golf.

A new health centric resort, Amrit Ocean Resort & Residences, is poised to open in late spring/early summer of next year. Programs combine Eastern wellbeing philosophies with Western technology, which can feature everything from acupuncture and sound and light therapies to yoga classes.

Art & culture

The world premiere of “Machu Picchu and the Golden Empires of Peru” debuted at Boca Raton Museum of Art in mid-October and will run through March 6, 2022. The new, immersive experience transports visitors to the Incan city of Machu Picchu for a journey guided by Ai Apaec, a mythical Andean hero. Walk among artifacts from royal tombs and come face-to-face with one of the largest collections of gold treasures to ever tour the world.

Amrit Ocean Resort & Residences. Credit: Amrit Resort & Residences

Norton Museum of Art welcomed the large-scale exhibition devoted to Mexican Modernism — “Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Mexican Modernism from the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection” — late last month. The exhibition boasts the largest group of works by Kahlo and Rivera ever on view at the museum. The exhibition is available through Feb. 6, 2022.

The Loggerhead Marinelife Center plans to open its 27,500-square-foot addition this fall. Visitors will enjoy a new Marine Life gallery, interactive exhibits, a new auditorium and much more.

Maltz Jupiter Theatre is scheduled to reopen in early January following a $36 million expansion. The first few shows of the 2022 season will open offsite, and then move onto the theater’s new Broadway-scale stage.

New urban spaces will bring additional art, shopping, restaurants, outdoor features and much more to The Palm Beaches. Atlantic Crossing coming to Delray Beach will feature a living “green-wall” and tree-lined walkway alongside its retail options. Debuting in Delray Beach in late 2022, Sundy Village will be a mixed-use, outdoor-centric community. The village will boast a historic restaurant, boutique inn, event venue, tropical garden and more.

Transportation

Travelling to and in The Palm Beaches is about to get easier, with the recent reopening of the Brightline — a high-speed passenger rail service between Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. Brightline will also have a new train station in Boca Raton, with an estimated opening date in 2022. Construction is expected to begin on the station this fall.

For the fifth year in a row, Palm Beach International Airport ranked in Travel + Leisure Magazine’s 2021 World’s Best Awards top 10 Best Domestic Airports category for access, check-in/security, restaurants/bars, shopping and design. New routes recently launched include Allegiant flights to Minneapolis and Austin twice a week, and Frontier flights to Atlanta once a day. Other expanded services and new airlines have been added to the airport.

To discover more news and noteworthy additions to The Palm Beaches, visit thepalmbeaches.com.

Huntsville-Madison County CVB

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Huntsville-Madison County CVB
Evening at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center
Evening at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center

Learn about the International Space Station, Civil War history, the sequencing of DNA and much more in Rocket City, USA – Huntsville, Ala. Plan your ‘Educational Escape’ today via this free field trip planning service for student/youth group leaders interested in curriculum-based, fun and exciting educational opportunities in unique environments outside the confines of the classroom. Educational Escapes offers students the opportunity to immerse themselves in “hands-on” learning experiences. More than just a break from the classroom, this will be a unique field trip experience in Huntsville, Alabama that your students will remember for a lifetime.


Member: ABA, ASTA, OMCA, NTA


Nearby Attractions that Influence Group Travel:

  • U.S. Space & Rocket Center
  • EarlyWorks History Museum
  • Historic Huntsville Depot
  • Alabama Constitution Village
  • Huntsville Botanical Garden
  • Huntsville Museum of Art
  • Burritt on the Mountain
  • Harrison Brothers Hardware
  • Ave Maria Grotto
  • Sci-Quest
  • Unclaimed Baggage

Type: CVB
Tour Services:

  • Attractions
  • Lodging
  • Theater
  • Brochures
  • Video
  • Group Planner
  • Slides/Photos
  • Itinerary Planning

Huntsville / Madison County CVB

500 Church St Ste 1
Huntsville, Alabama 35801
Phone: 256-551-2294
Phone: 800-843-0468
Fax: 256-551-2324
E-mail: pam@huntsville.org
Web: www.huntsville.org

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