Check out the latest group travel industry updates.

Experience Grand Rapids welcomes new specialty sales manager

Britny Avery
Britny Avery
Credit: Mod Bettie for Experience Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Experience Grand Rapids is pleased to announce the recent hiring of Britny Avery as its specialty sales manager. In this role, Avery will work to increase awareness and bookings of the Grand Rapids area as a convenient, fun and memorable destination for the group tour market. 

Avery graduated from Grand Valley State University with a degree in hospitality and tourism management and brings with her seven years’ experience in management and sales in private industry. As specialty sales manager, Avery builds relationships with tour managers across the U.S. and the world, and connects them with local partners and resources to facilitate custom experiences. Reach out to her and see her at Heartland Travel Showcase and Circle Wisconsin Midwest Marketplace, among other tradeshows this year.

Illinois Holocaust Museum pioneers virtual reality technology

CHICAGO — On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Jan. 27, 2022, “The Journey Back” exhibit opens to the public at Illinois Holocaust Museum in Chicago, Illinois. A first-of-its kind visitor experience, “The Journey Back” applies cutting-edge virtual technology to engage visitors in present day and historic Auschwitz through two award-winning films narrated by Holocaust survivors Fritzie Fritzshall and George Brent. The exhibit leverages a platform that resonates with current and future generations, using 360-degree sound and video, interspersing contemporary footage and memory sequences to evoke empathy and inspire visitors to take action.

The participant controls their own 360-degree experience as they are placed inside the 3-D environment in an intimate, one-on-one setting. Fritzshall and Brent guide participants around the modern-day preserved concentration camps, sharing what they endured during the Holocaust.

National Air and Space Museum in DC temporarily closes March 28

National Air and Space Museum
National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D.C.
Credit: Smithsonian Institution

WASHINGTON — The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C, will temporarily close to the public March 28, 2022, until fall 2022 to complete work on the first new galleries in the west wing of the building, as part of its ongoing renovation.

To provide the best visitor experience, the museum’s west-end galleries will open all at one time at a date to be announced in 2022. West-end exhibitions opening in fall 2022 will include “America by Air,” “The Wright Brothers & the Invention of the Aerial Age,” “Nation of Speed,” “Thomas W. Haas We All Fly,” “One World Connected,” “Kenneth C. Griffin Exploring the Planets Gallery,” “Destination Moon” and “Early Flight.” The museum store and Albert Einstein Planetarium will also open in the fall.

Sevierville to welcome new attraction

SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. — Slated to open in April 2022, SkyLand Ranch will be set on a 100 acre farm located next to lodging, restaurants and one of the largest outlet centers in the South. Visitors will take a ride on a scenic chairlift to the top of SkyLand Ranch, where hours of fun await. The hybrid chairlift will give guests the option of both chairs and open-air cabins. Other plans for the attraction include a mountain coaster that’s over a mile long, a suspended bridge with a wide walkway, canopy walks and more. SkyLand Ranch aims to attract visitors of all ages.

SkyLand Ranch will also be home to a variety of miniature animals, including miniature cows and donkeys, all rescues. After visiting with the animals, guests will love browsing both the food barns and the retail barns. There are currently plans for a candy shop and bakery with gourmet cupcakes, along with other seasonal food options, and a souvenir shop, a boutique, a Christmas shop, a toy store and more in the retail barn. 

Indianapolis celebrates Kurt Vonnegut’s centennial

Kurt Vonnegut Mura
Kurt Vonnegut Mural, Indianapolis, Ind.
Credit: Visit Indy

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — This year, the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library in Indianapolis celebrates the writer’s centennial. Vonnegut was born in Indianapolis in 1922. His writing took an unflinching look at the world, tempered with a satirical eye and sardonic sense of humor. He died in 2007 in New York City.

On the schedule for “Kurt Vonnegut: Celebrating a Century of Stories 1922–2022” are events marking the museum and library becoming the first Literary Landmark site in Indiana, a Kentucky Derby party, Juneteenth Celebration, Banned Books Week (Sept. 25–Oct. 1), Vonnegut’s 100th birthday on Nov. 11 and a birthday gala on Nov. 12.

The Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library in Indianapolis opened in 2019. Visitors can sit hunched over the same model typewriter Vonnegut used. Displayed are Vonnegut’s drawings, his actual typewriter, his Purple Heart from World War II and family photos.