Info

Destination On The Left

Destination On The Left is a podcast focused on the travel and tourism industry that explores successful collaborations, creative marketing ideas and best practices. Interviews are a mix of Destination Marketers, Industry Leaders, Consultants and businesses in the industry. We explore consumer marketing programs and travel trade marketing programs. This podcast provides an opportunity for professionals in the travel & tourism industry to share what they have learned and successes that they have achieved.
RSS Feed
Destination On The Left
2022
June
May
April
March
February
January


2021
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2020
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2019
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2018
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2017
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2016
December
November
October


All Episodes
Archives
Now displaying: March, 2022
Mar 30, 2022

With a talent for creating special events that blossomed while working for her dad’s car stereo shop, Nicole Mahoney got her start in marketing at Frontier Field in Rochester, and began serving as the executive director of the internationally known Lilac Festival. Later on, she headed the Canandaigua, New York Business Improvement District while also performing projects for the tourism promotion agency Visit Rochester.

In 2009, Nicole founded Break the Ice Media, with more than 20 years of experience in tourism marketing. She now hosts “Destination on the Left,” a highly successful tourism marketing podcast.

As a business owner, Nicole knows what it takes to be successful. She founded BTI to help businesses tell their brand story through public relations, digital and traditional channels. Nicole has the ability to uncover unique marketing opportunities and develop marketing and public relations initiatives that help clients build long-term success.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I host a question and answer session about Break the Ice Media’s acquisition of Travel Alliance Partners (TAP). This is such an exciting opportunity, and I’m thrilled that we can continue to bring together tour operators, suppliers, destinations, and travel buyers to collaborate on creating and promoting travel products. I also want to highlight TAP Dance, which we’re excited to be convening in person in Branson, MO, this May, as a crucial step toward reinvigorating the tour market.

 

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • A brief history of Travel Alliance Partners (TAP)
  • Break the Ice Media’s role as a PR and digital marketing agency that works on strategy and why TAP is an excellent addition to the team
  • The new business model for TAP and what it offers destinations, travel buyers, and suppliers
  • Why collaboration is vital to the continued strength of the travel and tourism industry
  • The importance of building a partnership of travel professionals with high standards of business ethics, and product quality and how that ethos allows them to develop joint marketing opportunities and share business practices in an environment of mutual trust and respect
  • How travel professionals can get involved with TAP, and why the 14 legacy partners form a solid foundation for future collaborations
  • Upcoming TAP events — including TAP Dance in May 2022
  • Goals and visions for TAP going forward into recovery for the travel and tourism business

Break the Ice Media and Travel Alliance Partners

Serge Talbot founded travel Alliance Partners (TAP) in 2001 to bring together a partnership of travel professionals with similar business ethics and product quality. TAP partners leverage joint marketing opportunities and use one another’s products and services in the spirit of mutual trust and respect. During the past 20 years, TAP has become known for its innovative ideas — they were the first to introduce the concept of guaranteed departures, pioneered the TAP Dance conference to allow industry professions to collaborate, and were the first in 2020 to announce a virtual event.

TAP was recently acquired by Break the Ice Media, and it went from a tour operator-owned company to a management marketing company-owned organization, but what TAP does and what it provides won’t change going forward.

Building Mutually Beneficial Relationships

Break the Ice Media is excited to have acquired TAP and is committed to continuing the spirit of collaboration that is key to building a successful business. In 2020 Break the Ice Media did a research study to determine how collaboration impacts the travel and tourism industry. And through that study, learned that 90% of the respondents are confident that relationship building is the future of helping the travel and tourism industry survive and thrive.

TAP’s mission is to build a partnership of travel professionals with high standards of business ethics and product quality with the intent to buy and sell products from each other and benefit from collective buying power and develop joint marketing opportunities in an environment of mutual trust and respect.

How to Get Involved with TAP

There are several ways to collaborate with TAP. They have 14 legacy partners who form the organization’s solid foundation and have developed two new partner levels, Growth and Collaborative, that people can now join without the equity buy-in to receive a variety of valuable benefits. They also have Preferred Professional Travel Providers (PPTP), who gain increased exposure to TAP’s partners and enjoy collaborative marketing benefits. TAP supports travel buyers with weekly webinars where our partners host a call and discuss specific travel itineraries, so they dig into the details.

Break the Ice Media and TAP continue to be the place where a wide variety of audiences and members can come to find business growth.

Resources:

Mar 23, 2022

With a talent for creating special events that blossomed while working for my dad’s car stereo shop, Nicole got her start in marketing at Frontier Field in Rochester and began serving as the executive director of the internationally known Lilac Festival. Later on, she headed the Canandaigua, New York Business Improvement District while also performing projects for the tourism promotion agency Visit Rochester.

In 2009, Nicole founded Break the Ice Media, with more than 20 years of experience in tourism marketing. She now hosts “Destination on the Left,” a highly successful tourism marketing podcast.

As a business owner, Nicole knows what it takes to be successful. She founded BTI to help businesses tell their brand story through public relations digital and traditional channels. She has the ability to uncover unique marketing opportunities and develop marketing and public relations initiatives that help clients build long-term success.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, Nicole Mahoney highlights the importance of collaboration. In this ever-changing world, it’s essential to find ways to collaborate in order to survive and thrive. We need to step outside our self-imposed silos and actively seek out opportunities to create partnerships with others that move the whole travel industry forward.

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Why the global events mean it’s more important than ever to connect positively with others
  • How collaboration can be powerful in the travel and tourism industry
  • The situation that helped Nicole understand the power of collaboration
  • What makes some partnerships successful, while others struggle to get off the ground
  • An overview of the findings from Nicole’s 2020 research study on collaboration in the travel, tourism, and hospitality
  • How perceived competitors can use coopetition to accomplish something bigger than themselves
  • The three different types of collaborators and how each one affects and how they come together to form a framework for success

A Passion for Collaboration

Nicole shares her personal experience of building a community collaboration from the ground up when she was involved in the Rochester Frontier Field project. She describes how her experience of town-wide cooperation led to her subsequent passion for finding ways to build successful partnerships in the travel and tourism industry.

Bringing a community together to make something happen is magical — and it’s what sets the groundwork for success during challenging times. Nicole and her partner Susan Baier teamed to conduct a study on the effects of coopetition. This term refers to those times when perceived competitors come together to accomplish something more significant than they could achieve alone.

Breaking Out of Silos

As travel and tourism industry professionals, we need to harness the power of collaboration with other organizations — even with our competitors. Recognizing and understanding the positive impacts of inter-organizational collaborations on business success is key in effectively leveraging our available tools. As Nicole says, collaboration is the exponential multiplier that makes one plus one greater than two. When we commit to working in partnership with others, we can move forward faster and more effectively.

A Collaboration Framework

There are often challenges on the path to achieving successful collaboration, and Nicole describes why she grouped these challenges under three broad headings. The three C’s framework comprises communication, commonality, and commitment; while some specific challenges may be encountered more often than others, Nicole explores why it is clear from her research that overcoming challenges in all three areas is critical for collaborations to be successful.

This framework is critical in identifying opportunities in the face of adversity, and professionals and organizations that are able to navigate these three areas can thrive under any circumstances.

Resources:

Mar 16, 2022

Gary Murphy is Co-Owner and Senior Vice President of Sales at Ama Waterways, and his experience in the travel industry spans more than 30 years. After completing his Business Degree at California State University, Northridge, Gary’s early business experience involved positions with IBM, Group Voyagers in Europe, and Brendan Vacations, before becoming Vice President of Marketing and Sales for the rapidly expanding Miami Air International.

From there, Gary returned to one of the country’s leading tour operators, Brendan Vacations, where he served as Vice President of Marketing and Sales and, in 2000, took over the role of President. In 2009, Murphy left Brendan to become Vice President of National Accounts for AmaWaterways; in 2013, he was appointed Vice President of Sales and became Senior Vice President of Sales in 2019.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, Gary Murphy shares his philosophy on standing out as a business by creating immersive experiences for travelers and why he believes that working with Travel Counselors is a solid business strategy. We discuss the benefits of river cruising, and Gary dives into some of the collaborations he has been involved in throughout his career that have helped the company innovate and improve their offering.

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • Gary’s path into the river cruising industry, including the different parts of the industry he has worked in and the entrepreneurial spirit woven through it
  • The history of river cruising in Europe
  • Creative approaches that Gary has taken in developing Ama Waterways’ river cruises
  • Gary’s philosophy toward the itineraries they create
  • How Ama Waterways encourage their guests to immerse themselves in the experience of the port in which they’re located
  • Why they prefer not to include the gratuity and how that empowers guests to take ownership of the experience that they’re having
  • Strategies Gary uses when faced with challenges, particularly during the last few years
  • Why Ama Waterways love collaborating with their Travel Advisor partners, and why they believe it’s the most financially rewarding way to manage their business
  • Opportunities for competition that AMA Waterways is working on right now

Creative Approaches in Travel

As travelers, often our most valuable commodity is time — Gary guides us through how Ama Waterways plan and create their river cruise itineraries to allow guests to make the most of their vacation by enabling them to wake up each morning in a beautiful new town. He shares how they have designed their trips to take advantage of the most beautiful parts of a country while cruising during the day, and details some of the ways the company has innovated to provide the best experience possible to their guests.

We also discuss creative ways that Ama Waterways has encouraged travelers to make the most of each new destination on the cruise and their philosophy that you need to spend less time on the ship — no matter how beautiful and luxurious it is —and more time enjoying each new town or city.

Ama Waterways’ Philosophy on Travel

Gary shares how Ama Waterways do things that they feel are the best use of their clients’ time, that give them the best value and deliver a superb travel experience. He describes how the company’s founders are, at heart, adventurers with a fortitude that moves them forward through challenges. Ama understands the best way to travel, and they follow that philosophy to deliver exceptional experiences. Gary and I discuss the difference between a poor quality all-inclusive experience and a premium experience that encourages guests to experience the gastronomy of the country they’re visiting.

We touch on what makes Ama Waterways stand out in a crowded market and why they prefer to march to the beat of their own drum and curate an experience that enhances their guest’s vacation than follow the crowd.

Creative Coopetition in River Cruising

Gary discusses some of the upcoming collaborations with competitors, including The American Society of Travel Agents conference in Budapest next month. River cruise lines have come together and coordinated their ships’ timetables so that travel advisors can see the different ships firsthand.

Collaboration with guests is also a fantastic way to discover opportunities. Gary shares some of the partnerships Ama Waterways has built with other businesses after being guided by what clients are looking for to make the river cruise experience even better.

Resources:

Mar 9, 2022

Carrie Simmons is a leader, strategist, and creative problem-solver with expertise in values-driven, integrated brand and marketing approaches. She is the Executive Director of the Stowe Area Association, outwardly known as Go Stowe, serving approximately 250 business members by promoting the Stowe brand through effective public relations, social media strategies, as well as and operating a visitor information center and central reservations service for hotels and inns.

Prior to Go Stowe, Carrie was the owner and creative director of New Ground Creative, a creative firm that built brands through engaging design, dynamic campaigns, and authentic messaging. Carrie finds inspiration in travel, singing, reading, and time spent outdoors with her family. She is currently a board member of Stowe Vibrancy and Executive Board Member of the Vermont Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives.

Rachel is Chief Hospitality Experience Officer at the Sun and Ski Inn in Stowe, Vermont. She is passionate about hospitality, tourism, and marketing, and she serves on the Board of Trustees of her local destination marketing organization, Go Stowe. In December 2018, Rachel completed a certificate in Hospitality Management from eCornell. In 2020 Rachel founded her coaching practice, Peak, and she is currently working towards her International Coaching Federation certification. Rachel is an avid reader, community leader, proud wife, and mother of three and loves to mountain bike and nordic ski in the woods of Vermont.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Rachel and Carrie, two extraordinary leaders in the travel industry from Stowe, Vermont. We discuss how facing challenges forces you to accelerate plans and how the pandemic led to a collaboration between three communities and the creation of a new brand. Rachel also gives her perspective on what’s going on in the travel and tourism industry right now, and why she made the decision to niche down in her marketing.

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • Why having a solid relationship with your DMO will benefit your business
  • Why Rachel went into hotel management despite never planning to take over the family business
  • Accelerate Women Leaders in Travel leadership retreat and how Carrie and Rachel feel it adds to professional development for women
  • What Stowe as an area and Rachel as a hotelier have done to stand out from the crowd
  • How Rachel reimagined and expanded the Sun and Ski Inn to exceed modern family’s vacation expectations
  • Why refining your target market can expand rather than reduce your business opportunities
  • Recent challenges that Carrie and Go Stowe have faced and the creative solutions that have come from adversity
  • How technology has played a part in being prepared for the future
  • Why taking risks and paying attention to trends has paid off for Rachel’s business
  • Carris’s advice for DMOs looking to creatively collaborate with peers and neighbors

Future Travel Trends

It’s always worth paying attention to what’s going on in the market and planning for upcoming trends. The last two years have shown that constant change and evolution are the only things you can bank on in this industry.

Rachel describes her philosophy of taking risks in her hospitality business and why she constantly keeps one eye on the future as she makes decisions in her business. Thinking about how you plan to evolve as a destination prepares you for whatever is around the corner and allows you to pivot quickly with demand.

Carrie describes how the Stowe Area Association has found opportunities to collaborate with perceived competitors to create something bigger together than they could create alone. She shares examples of some amazing coopetition partnerships and why it’s essential to come together to weather storms successfully.

Collaborating with the Wider Community

There are myriad opportunities to bring visitors into your area if you creatively collaborate with others in the travel and tourism industries. Carrie discusses the DMO perspective on seeking ways to connect with others to bring people to Vermont as a whole. We need to find ways to think outside of the box and realize that it’s not always necessarily the traditional collaborations that are the most effective.

Everyone you collaborate with in your town, in the different segments, and whether for economic development or recreation, builds a beautiful network of people. Rachel and Carrie emphasize that their community is what makes Stowe so special, in addition, of course, to the extraordinary landscape, historic buildings, shops, restaurants, and places to stay. It’s really the people that make the soul of the community. And that’s a big piece that stands out.

A rising tide raises all ships, after all, so leveraging the unique mix of businesses and supporting each other as a destination helps Stowe move forward.

Marketing Your Destination

From a marketing standpoint, it can be hard to make a choice about who you’re hoping to appeal to with your destination. Many people hope by targeting as broad an audience as possible; they will be more successful in their business. Rachel describes why she decided to focus in tight on promoting her hotel and attractions to active couples and families and how that changed the business for the better.

Carrie ends our inspiring conversation by emphasizing the need to embrace the idea that the travel and tourism industry isn’t necessarily the end goal. The visitor economy is the pipeline to providing opportunities to the community and interconnecting them with other organizations. Having a holistic approach to the industry is the key as we’re moving forward into 2022.

Resources:

Mar 2, 2022

Melinda Huntley is the Executive Director of the Ohio Travel Association, the only statewide trade association representing all tourism industry sectors. Representing Ohio’s $43 billion tourism industry, the Ohio Travel Association makes Ohio’s tourism businesses stronger, better prepared, and more profitable through unifying the voice of the industry for legislative advocacy, providing professional development opportunities and training, and connecting buyers and sellers with events such as the Heartland Travel Showcase.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Melinda Huntley about the four elements that she believes make for a successful collaboration and how to apply them in real situations. Melinda also shares details of the innovative Epic Destinations program that the Ohio Travel Association is developing and dives into the ever-changing travel and tourism industry landscape.

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • Why Melinda moved from Biomedical Communications into the travel and tourism industry
  • Why Melinda believes that working at a DMO was a life-changing experience for her
  • The many different areas of expertise you end up learning as part of a destination marketing organization
  • How to pick a niche market and build a program around it
  • How the Ohio birding collaborative project came about
  • Being active in the local community helps you recognize new marketing opportunities
  • How seeking collaboration in the face of opposition helps solve significant problems
  • The importance of finding common ground in making partnerships successful
  • The four elements that comprise a collaboration that really works
  • Telling the whole story of a destination, spotting opportunities, and digging into the details
  • Why it’s critical to focus on your ‘why’
  • Recent projects that Melinda has been involved in that have leveraged collaboration
  • The Ohio Travel and Tourism Academy and what they do to help tourism professionals
  • The Heartland Travel Showcase, Epic Group Travel, and why Melinda became interested in the unique selling points of group travel

How to Achieve Successful Collaborations

On this show, we’re all about building partnerships with others that benefit everyone. My discussion with Melinda was so valuable, and she shared so many golden nuggets in our conversation. She describes the four elements that are absolutely critical to achieving a successful collaboration. We discuss why you need to invite others to the table, why you shouldn’t be afraid to give credit elsewhere, how to understand the vital role that perception plays, and the importance of seeking out the root cause of making a change. We discuss in detail how to apply each of these elements, and Melinda provides specific examples of how she has used them in her organization.

We dive deep into the importance of focusing on your ‘why’ as a travel and tourism organization and seeing the end goal as the key achievement. Melinda steps us through her recent Birding project — how it got off the ground and why inviting others to the table really helped the Ohio Travel Organization get it off the ground.

Building Skills

Pivoting and evolving are skills we have all had to embrace recently, and as a community, professionals in the travel and tourism have had to do it more than most. Melinda describes how asking your stakeholders what they need is an oft-missed step in a project and shares why when you seek guidance, you can really make a difference.

Focusing on your stakeholders and your customers wise is essential when you’re trying to draw focus to our destination, but often we are tripped up by not making our value clear. Melinda shares an example of when she had to take a pause when organizing a virtual conference and go back to the bones of what attendees really wanted from the event.

Getting Ready for Group Travel

Melinda shares why she’s so excited about the group tour market and the possibility of leveraging the trend towards transformative travel and developing group experiences that are unique. The demand for curated travel in someone has accelerated because of the events of the last few years, so there is a real opportunity for destinations to set themselves up for success.

We discuss the importance of innovating in the space and move on from how group travel looked 20 years ago. Melinda shares the Epic Group Experiences — a training and recognition program for group travel, and how her team developed a designation program to share standards and best practices. Planning for the future is exciting and organizations like Melinda’s really are at the forefront of building collaborative networks that move the travel industry forward.

Resources:

1