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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.
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Now displaying: December, 2022
Dec 28, 2022

I’m sharing more insights from the group travel industry in the second episode of a special three-part series of Destination on the Left episodes from the National Tour Associations Travel Exchange in Reno. I’m excited to share their thoughts on key trends and challenges as we move into 2023.

In this episode, you’ll hear from:

Group Travel Wisdom The National Tour Associations Travel Exchange

I have loved talking with all the amazing, experienced group tour specialists at the NTA about how they envision the future of their sector. During our short interviews, I also asked them about current trends they are seeing in the industry, where their challenges lie, and the one word they would use to describe their experience of the National Tour Associations Travel Exchange. You’ll be fascinated by their answers!

Jim Warren, US Group Specialist at Anderson Vacations

Jim reflects on trends that Anderson Vacations has been seeing in the group travel industry, including the customer desire for smaller groups. He describes how they have leveraged that trend and started to develop smaller group experiences of between 12 and 20 people and why they are keen to move that trend forward.

Lorna Davis, Global Sales Manager at Travel Oregon

In her mini-interview, Lorna talked to me about the number one issue that Travel Oregon is facing right now and how they are moving through that challenge. She describes some of the ways they endeavor to meet the demands of group travel customers despite often struggling with adequate staffing. Lorna also shares the need to be genuinely hospitable and greet guests with a smile no matter what’s going on behind the scenes.
Mark Brodeur, International Tourism & Group Sales Director at Visit Rhode Island

Mark’s word to describe the NTA Travel Exchange is ‘opportunity’. He shares why he loves participating in the knowledge exchange that the event allows and how it helps Visit Rhode Island stay abreast of current trends in the group travel industry. He also digs into some of the trends his destination is seeing right now, including creating personalized experiences within the group travel niche.

Nick Calderazzo, President at Twin Travel Concepts

In our conversation, Nick reveals that his organization is seeing later bookings and reflects on why people are waiting longer to make decisions. He also shares the changes he has seen in the senior group travel market, particularly their growing comfort with looking for and booking their travel online and the need to build unique, off-the-beaten-track experiences.

Peter Pantuso, President & CEO at ABA

According to Peter Pantuso, expectations in the group travel niche are changing. He discusses how they are creating individualized experiences for guests within a group tour and likens the experience to a cruise where people are traveling together but also have the opportunity to split into smaller groups to satisfy different interests. Peter firmly believes that understanding the need to provide something for everyone will be a key theme in 2023.

Ryan Robutka, Senior Manager for Market Development at Via Rail Canada

One of the challenges Ryan Robutka of Via Rail Canada has faced over the past couple of years is doing more with less. He describes how despite their staff being extremely stretched, they have been able to come through and offer the experience that travelers are looking for. They have committed to protecting the core experience their travelers are looking for in addition to catering to some of the more recent trends in the group travel industry.

Todd Read, Trade & Consumer Sales Manager at SoIN Tourism

Todd and I discuss the future of group travel, including the greater need for flexibility. He shares what SoIN Tourism can do as a DMO to help group travel organizations set up fantastic experiences for guests and how their intimate knowledge of their destination can help. As he says, ‘you can’t just sit back and do what you’ve always done.’

2023 and Beyond in the Group Travel Sector

My guests make it clear that the future outlook for the group tour industry is bright, and its evolution is opening up new opportunities for all stakeholders. They highlight the small group trend that started before the pandemic and continues today, and how that trend opens up new destinations in group travel. We also discuss the importance of remaining flexible and continuing to change with the industry, and move through challenges with grace.

We value your thoughts and feedback and would love to hear from you. Leave us a review on your favorite streaming platform to let us know what you want to hear more of. Here is a quick tutorial on how to leave us a rating and review on iTunes!: https://breaktheicemedia.com/rating-review/

Dec 21, 2022

For this first episode in a special three-part series of Destination on the Left episodes, I visited the National Tour Associations Travel Exchange in Reno and spoke with several experts in the travel and tourism industry. My guests shared some of their wisdom in mini-interviews, focused on the trends, challenges, and future outlook for the group travel industry. The brilliance each of these leaders shared is certain to be invaluable as we seek new opportunities in group travel.

In this episode, you’ll hear from these extraordinary leaders:

Travel and Tourism Insight from The National Tour Associations Travel Exchange

The National Tour Associations Travel Exchange is an incredible event that allows experts in group travel to exchange ideas about the trends in the potential opportunities for group tour operators in 2023 and beyond. It was my honor to speak to some of the extraordinary guests at the travel exchange to get their insights into where the group travel industry has been, where it’s going and share key information and strategies for the future.

Amy Larsen – Industry Relations Manager at Wyoming Office of Tourism

Amy shares her perspective on travel trends she has seen over the last few months, including visitors’ desire to see their smaller towns and unique destinations. People are connecting the pioneer spirit and the western heritage which is central to Wyoming. She describes why the COVID-19 pandemic led to a desire for simpler times and why it’s such an exciting trend for Wyoming.

Debbie Jones – Senior Vice President & Client Relations at Trip Mate, Inc.

Debbie and I talk about the number one issue facing the industry today and how her organization is helping to address it. She shares the challenges travelers often face in finding an appropriate insurance plan for a more mature audience. Debbie discusses how her company provides peace of mind and ease of access for people traveling in groups.

Eddie Lutz – Director of Sales at Ark Encounter/Creation Museum

Eddie discusses the number one issue facing his organization right now and how they are moving through it. We dive into the industry-wide issue of a lack of staffing and why it’s so concerning for group travel companies. Eddie describes why his organization has committed to taking on a leadership role in their region, working with hotels and attractions to ensure they are ready to offer guests exemplary hospitality.

Jay Smith – President at Sports Travel and Tours

I talked with Jay about what he believes the group tour operator of the future will look like and how they’ll get there. He shares why he thinks group tour operators will have to be a little more creative to continue bringing unique experiences to the plate that people just can’t do independently. We also discuss how we can educate the younger community of travelers on the benefits of group travel.

Lee Callicut – Destination Sales Manager at Visit Montgomery

Lee shares how Visit Montgomery flipped from a destination marketing organization trying to bring travelers into the area to what they call a destination management organization focusing on serving people who live in the area. He shares the lessons they learned and how they have translated into providing small-group outdoor-based experiences for visitors and locals alike.

Marcel Perkins – General Manager at Latin Trails

Marcel discusses the issue of sky-high flight costs facing the touring travel market and how his organization is responding to it. He shares why many travelers are waiting for flight prices to Europe to drop before they plan their trips and gives his recommendations for what destinations should be doing to be ready for guests when the time comes.

Michael Collins – Group Tour Coordinator at Nebraska Tourism Commission

Post-COVID-19 travelers are rediscovering the wide open spaces and rural areas of the USA. People are looking for destinations that are quirky, out of the ordinary, and a fun place to visit, and Michael describes why that describes Nebraska to a T. He also shares what his team is doing to capitalize on that trend.

Key Trends for 2023

According to my guests, trends for 2023 include active itineraries, small-town visits, and a definite focus on seeking the simpler pleasures in life. Our discussions also touched on the importance of having professionals in the industry mentoring new team members at hotels, restaurants, and attractions where tour operators plan to visit and how that might impact the generalized staffing shortage.

Dec 21, 2022

In the second episode in a special three-part series of Destination on the Left episodes from the National Tour Associations Travel Exchange in Reno, I’m sharing more insights from the group travel industry. I’m excited to share their thoughts on key trends and challenges as we move into 2023.

In this episode, you’ll hear from these extraordinary leaders:

Peter Johnson, Manager & Market Development at Tourism Nova Scotia
Richard Arnold, President at Atlantic Tours Limited
Tillie Youngs, Sales Manager at Visit 1000 Islands
Anjuli King, Director, Domestic Group Tour & Entertainment Sales at Visit Savannah
Debra Asberry, President & Founder at Women Traveling Together, Inc.
Heather Egan, Director of Leisure & International Sales at Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau

Travel and Tourism Insight from The National Tour Associations Travel Exchange

In my interviews at the NTA, I talked with tour and travel professionals about how dynamic and resilient the group tour industry is. I asked each guest to share trends, challenges, and the future outlook for the tour industry from their viewpoint — you will find a lot of similar themes running through their answers.

Peter Johnson — Manager & Market Development at Tourism Nova Scotia

Peter discussed the number one issue they are facing in the industry right now and how Tourism Nova Scotia are moving through it. He shares what they’re doing to combat labor shortages with innovative ways to bring people back to the industry, including working closely with partner organizations.

Richard Arnold, President at Atlantic Tours Limited

The impact of COVID-19 on the group travel industry included reducing numbers on tour departures for health and safety reasons. Richard describes how this pivot has led to Atlantic Tours developing an offering of small group departures and why he believes that offering individual, unique experiences are among the key trends of 2023.

Tillie Youngs — Sales Manager at Visit 1000 Islands

Tille describes the impact straddling two countries has on her destination marketing organization. She discusses their notable collaborations on both sides of the St. Lawrence River and why they have always seen themselves as a two-nation destination. We also talked about the opportunities to collaborate and work as closely with international partners.

Anjuli King — Director, Domestic Group Tour & Entertainment Sales at Visit Savannah

There are so many great destinations that have a huge amount to offer groups, and Savannah is undoubtedly one of those places. Anjuli shares some of the trends she is seeing right now in the group tour industry, including the popularity of their black history tours. She also discusses why she believes that Georgia as a whole has opened up to new opportunities in the last couple of years.

Debra Asberry — President & Founder at Women Traveling Together, Inc.

Debra tells me about why she founded Women Traveling Together and describes the ethos of their exclusively small group women tours and why they embed a tour leader to manage group dynamics and just show guests a wonderful time. Debra also gives me her word to describe the NTA Travel Exchange, which is ‘ready’ and dives into how it relates to relationship building within the group travel and tourism industry.

Heather Egan — Director of Leisure & International Sales at Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau

Heather and I discuss some of the problems that have become evident in the group travel niche over recent years. She shares how her organization balances the needs of the group tourism industry with the requirements of individual travelers and why they remain committed to finding the best way to accommodate groups and maintaining key relationships in the sector.

Moving Through Challenges

These brilliant travel professionals join me in exploring key trends and challenges for 2023 and how the COVID-19 pandemic has informed what’s going on in the group travel niche right now. My guests also describe the NTA Travel Exchange in just one word, and some of the key themes you’ll hear in this episode center on partnership, invigorating the industry, and strong connections. Get ready to be inspired!

We value your thoughts and feedback and would love to hear from you. Leave us a review on your favorite streaming platform to let us know what you want to hear more of. Here is a quick tutorial on how to leave us a rating and review on iTunes!: https://breaktheicemedia.com/rating-review/

 
 
Dec 7, 2022

Sarah Howe has a 25-year career leading marketing and sales for organizations of varying industries, each with its own thread in the love of the outdoors. Her joy is ignited by energizing teams around common goals and passion projects, building support through stakeholder involvement, creating clear and effective messaging, as well as giving back to the community.

She currently holds board member positions with the Vermont Lodging Association, New England Inns and Resorts Association, Accelerate Woman Leadership in Hospitality, and StepsVT (Steps Against Domestic Violence). Sarah is an avid downhill skier, sailor, hiker, mountain biker, or anything else outdoors.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, Sarah and I discuss the importance of forging strong connections with both guests and staff at the Lake Morey Resort and how it has helped them strengthen their positioning within the community. Sarah also describes some of the unique community partnerships her company is building and how they help them deliver a better experience for guests and staff alike.

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • Sarah’s background in the hospitality industry
  • Innovations that have helped the Lake Morey resort stand out from the crowd
  • When Sarah realized it was critical to consult the resort’s staff on what they felt was the heart of the resort
  • How Sarah communicates a sense of connection to attract new guests to the resort
  • Why Sarah is keen to encourage people to communicate with her where their comfort level, be that email, phone, or text message
  • Creative solutions Sarah has come up with to help her destination move through recent challenges
  • Why reaching out to your peers in the industry can help you determine how to make long-term changes
  • Exciting things in the pipeline for Sarah and Lake Morey Resort
  • How Sarah and her team are leaning into their community partners

Connectivity

Sarah shares why she appealed to the resort staff to understand what makes Lake Morey resort different. She shares how the team came up with their slogan, ‘you come as friends, and you leave as family,’ and why it’s important to her that guests leave connecting more deeply with each other. Sarah discusses how she leaned into that philosophy in her marketing and updated their website and printed materials to highlight how important connectivity is at Lake Morey.

Creativity in the Face of Challenge

Sarah and I discuss how COVID-19 inspired her team to take a step back and look at how they were doing things and really try to be creative. Change can be hard, but once you start making change, the next change is easier and opens those doors and lets the creativity flow.

Sarah describes how the input from other hospitality leaders in Vermont and New England helped her team to really understand what was happening and what was working and what wasn’t. Creativity often involves stepping out of your comfort zone, starting new projects, and embracing creativity.

Community Partnerships

Looking into the future, the team at Lake Morey is most excited about their community partnerships. Although they offer their guests a fun and engaging time at the resort, they are planning to offer other community engagement opportunities too.

They also plan to grow their free outdoor concert series and extend their winter markets and trivia nights. The Lake Morey resort is being creative and offering different experiences to different types of people so that the whole community can come and enjoy themselves.

Resources:

We value your thoughts and feedback and would love to hear from you. Leave us a review on your favorite streaming platform to let us know what you want to hear more of. Here is a quick tutorial on how to leave us a rating and review on iTunes!: https://breaktheicemedia.com/rating-review/

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