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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: March, 2023
Mar 29, 2023

Episode 323:

Michael Hensley was born and raised just outside of Detroit in Warren, Michigan. He studied at Saginaw Valley State University for four years and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 2017. After graduating, he stayed in the Great Lakes Bay Region to promote the region to tourists. He now serves as the Travel Marketing Manager, where he passionately works to show people why the Great Lakes Bay Region is such a special place to visit. This is done by creating programs to increase tourism traffic and strategically identify market segments.

Michael has been described as “enthusiastic and dedicated about his work” by friends and colleagues. Loyal to his newfound community, Michael makes sure every visitor feels right at home in the Great Lakes Bay Region.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Michael Hensley about his successful podcast, Go Great Lakes Bay, and how he’s using it to promote the region as a destination. We also discuss the challenges of launching a podcast and the benefits it can bring, such as expanding relationships with stakeholders and providing another valuable tool to support them.

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • Michael’s story and how he got into tourism
  • The Great Lakes Bay podcast and the stories behind the show
  • We dive into what makes a podcast successful
  • Why the fear of failure often holds people back and how Michael moved through it
  • Successful examples of collaboration, including their partnership with the Saginaw Spirit hockey team
  • Perspective on the evolution of destination marketing organizations

Sharing Local Stories

Michael Hensley shares his passion for communicating the stories of the people and places that make the Great Lakes Bay Region a great place to live, work, worship, play, and learn. In the Great Lakes Bay podcast, Michael and his team feature the people who own and operate local businesses, sharing the stories behind the places visitors love to frequent.

From Grandpa Tiny’s Farm in Frankenmuth to other local businesses, Michael brings to light the people behind the places that make the region special. By sharing these stories, Michael hopes to inspire listeners to view the destination through the same lens he did and fall in love with it too.

Podcasting as a Marketing Tool

Michael reveals that the idea for the podcast was not originally his but something that his predecessor started. However, after stumbling upon the file and listening to a few episodes, he saw the potential in continuing the podcast. The first year was rough, but after receiving advice from other professionals in the industry, he realized the importance of consistency and decided to aim for a weekly release.

The partnership with a radio station in Detroit helped alleviate the stress of producing and distributing the podcast, allowing him to focus on recording interviews. Although he had never interviewed anyone before, he overcame his fear and developed a skill for it. Despite the commitment, he enjoys producing the podcast and views it as a priority each week.

Moving Forward Step by Step

Fear is a common emotion that can hold us back from pursuing our goals and aspirations. Michael’s experience with starting the show is an excellent example of overcoming our fears and pushing through to achieve our desired outcome. He admits to having fears about not being a good interviewer or the show not working out. However, he didn’t let those fears stop him and took a leap of faith.

Michael’s willingness to take risks, try new things, and persist through challenges is an inspiration. For anyone who is struggling to overcome their fears, his advice is to start by identifying what’s holding you back and then take small steps to move forward.

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/

Mar 22, 2023

Jennifer J Fondrevay is the founder of Day1 Ready™, a consultancy that advises forward-thinking business leaders, owners, and C-Suite executives on how to prepare for the human capital challenges of M&A. As a Fortune 500 C-Suite “survivor” of three multibillion-dollar acquisitions, Jennifer has been on all sides of the deal equation. She saw countless growth strategies fail due to a workforce that couldn’t pivot and adapt as quickly as leadership anticipated.

When her Harvard Business Review (HBR) article “After a Merger, Don’t Let “Us vs. Them” Thinking Ruin the Company” went viral, Jennifer recognized the power and interest in a human-centric approach to business transformation, where employees are at the heart of the change. She shares her expertise as a contributor to Forbes, Harvard Business Review, Thrive Global, American Marketing Association, Middle Market Growth; and as a frequent podcast guest and keynote speaker for HR conferences, associations, and Fortune 500 companies.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Jennifer J Fondrevay about navigating uncertainty and embracing transformation. In our conversation, Jennifer shares best practices for entering into a partnership and explores the similarities between M&A and collaboration and how the principles and processes of both can be applied to achieve success in any transformational journey.

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • What happens when you bring two cultures together after a merger, and how to avoid some of the typical challenges
  • Why it’s critical to be intentional about your values when planning a partnership
  • The importance of getting past your ego when making key decisions
  • Why you have to ensure that customer experience is your North Star to maximize a collaboration’s success
  • Jennifer shares her wisdom for leaders and teams looking to navigate the complexities of mergers and acquisitions

Helping Partnerships Thrive

Jennifer shares valuable insights for leaders and their teams considering a merger or acquisition, emphasizing the importance of respect for the other company. Drawing on the analogy of a successful marriage, Jennifer highlights that partnerships thrive on both sides bringing out the best in each other and recognizing the value each brings to the partnership.

She stresses the need for humility and respect when entering into a partnership and cautions against letting ego drive decision-making, which can lead to unsuccessful deals. Jennifer’s advice is a must-listen for anyone looking to enter into a successful partnership.

Finding Your North Star

On the podcast, we discuss the importance of being intentional and self-aware of your value when entering into a merger or acquisition. She emphasizes the need to keep the customer at the forefront of any decision-making process, using the example of a successful acquisition where a junior product manager reminded the team to focus on the customer’s needs rather than their own egos.

Jennifer highlights that keeping the customer as the North Star can help diminish the impact of ego in business and keep teams focused on the true reason for their work. She has some great golden nuggets of wisdom that provide valuable guidance for leaders and teams looking to navigate the complexities of mergers and acquisitions.

Unique Opportunities

Jennifer emphasizes the importance of the people piece in M&A; she says that there is no specific playbook for these types of deals, as each one has its unique opportunities and challenges. However, she encourages people to be intentional and contribute to the evolution of their organization.

Jennifer suggests bringing your particular skills to the partnership, embracing uncertainty, and looking for new opportunities. She also talks about the importance of collaboration, letting go of old ways, and contributing to the new vision.

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/

Mar 15, 2023

Welcome back to our special two-part series from the ABA Marketplace Roadshow edition! In this week’s episode, we continue our exploration of the positive energy and optimism that pervades this year’s event. We discuss a range of topics, from the importance of collaboration in creating unforgettable experiences for visitors to the growing trend of slow travel and the benefits of spending more time in a single destination. So join us as we continue to explore the future of tour and travel in this exciting and dynamic industry.

In this episode, you’ll hear from:

  • Jacob Servais – Hall of Fame and Stadium Tour Sales Executive at Green Bay Packers
  • Juan Pablo Suarez – Travel Trade Manager Ottawa Tourism
  • Julie Dautrich – Tourism Sales Manager at Discover Lancaster
  • Keith Snode – Lead Navigator (COO) at Group Travel Odyssey & Chief Operating Officer (COO)
  • Kaleidoscope Adventures
  • Stacy Thornton – Senior Manager, Tourism Sales Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Tina Mt. Pleasant – Director of Travel Trade Sales at Destination Niagara USA

Golden Nuggets from the American Bus Association’s Annual Marketplace

The American Bus Association marketplace roadshow is an annual event that brings together tour and travel professionals from across the United States and worldwide. The event is designed to provide a unique forum for networking, education, and collaboration, with a focus on the latest trends and best practices in the industry. During the marketplace, attendees have the opportunity to meet with representatives from a wide range of travel-related companies and participate in educational seminars, learn about new products and services, and build relationships with others in the field. Whether you’re a seasoned industry veteran or just starting out in the world of tour and travel, the ABA marketplace roadshow is the perfect place to connect, learn, and grow.

Jacob Servais – Hall of Fame and Stadium Tour Sales Executive at Green Bay Packers

Jacob talks about looking toward the future of the travel industry and some of the factors he is keeping a close eye on, particularly in the motorcoach and tourism sector. One of the biggest challenges that has arisen is the fluctuating gas prices. This has affected school groups, rec groups, and senior centers who rely heavily on transportation. However, partnerships and collaborations are helping to alleviate this issue. For instance, the Green Bay Packers Foundation provides a transportation grant for school groups, which not only assists in getting students to Lambeau but also supports bus companies.

Juan Pablo Suarez – Travel Trade Manager Ottawa Tourism

Juan Pablo discusses how the group travel industry is evolving and facing many challenges due to the impact of the pandemic. He shares that one of the noticeable changes is that people are looking to truly experience a destination rather than just seeing it. This means that travelers are looking for a more immersive experience and are embracing the trend of slow travel. Instead of rushing through multiple destinations in a short period of time, travelers are looking to spend more time in a few select places. This trend benefits destinations, as visitors can stay longer and explore more attractions, leading to a better overall experience.

Julie Dautrich – Tourism Sales Manager at Discover Lancaster

According to Julie, the word energizing perfectly describes the ABA Marketplace Roadshow because it has brought a new level of excitement and enthusiasm to the travel industry. The event is an excellent platform for tourism professionals to network and connect with potential clients. The sheer number of appointments and meetings, coupled with the energy and passion of attendees, creates a vibrant and dynamic atmosphere. The energy and enthusiasm at the ABA marketplace are infectious, making it an event everyone in the travel industry should attend.

Keith Snode – Lead Navigator (COO) at Group Travel Odyssey & Chief Operating Officer (COO) Kaleidoscope Adventures

The changes in the group travel industry are significant, and Keith shares why it’s so fascinating to see how things are evolving. One of the biggest changes is in how people are buying group travel experiences. Keith discusses how pre-formed groups used to work with a single group leader, and the focus was on the group as a whole rather than on the individual travelers and how COVID-19 has changed that, so now there is a unique touchpoint with each individual traveler. We dive into how the integration of technology into group travel has revolutionized the way business is done and why it’s exciting to see how these changes will shape the industry.

Stacy Thornton – Senior Manager, Tourism Sales Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau

Stacy shares with me why she is so excited about what’s on the horizon for her organization, Meet Boston. She discusses how their new brand captures the city’s spirit and why she can’t wait to see how that will translate into their marketing and outreach efforts. Stacy also shares what she’s most looking forward to, including reclaiming some sense of normalcy and being able to travel freely again, explore new destinations, and meet new people.

Tina Mt. Pleasant – Director of Travel Trade Sales at Destination Niagara USA

It’s heartwarming to hear about the family-like atmosphere at ABA Marketplace. The strong relationships they have built over the years make attendees feel like they are part of a close-knit family. Tina shares how the amazing conversations that happen at the event can bring people together and create such a warm and welcoming environment. It’s clear that this feeling of camaraderie is a unique aspect of ABA Marketplace Roadshow and one that keeps people coming back year after year. It’s a testament to the power of community and how important it is to feel connected to others, especially in the travel industry.

A Positive Future

Our guests highlight how technology is rapidly transforming the sector and the exciting opportunities this presents for innovative tour and travel companies. Plus, we hear firsthand about the product development initiatives that are creating new and exciting experiences in some of the world’s most iconic destinations. As a fun way to wrap things up, I also asked each of our guests to sum up their experience of the ABA Marketplace Roadshow in just one word – listen in to hear their inspiring responses, which include words like energizing, essential, and family.

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/

Mar 8, 2023

For this first episode in a special two-part Destination on the Left series, I’m joining you from the American Bus Association’s Annual Marketplace in Detroit. What stands out in my interviews with the following industry leaders is how positive everyone feels about 2023 and the future of the tour and travel sector. My guests share their golden nuggets about what they are most looking forward to, the changes they see in the market, how collaboration has helped them, and trends on the horizon that they are excited to be part of.

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

  • Amy DeFrancesco– National Sales Executive at Drury Hotels
  • Ryan Sanders – Vice President of Operations and Sales for the Motorcoach Family of Brands
  • Chelsea Lerud – Executive Director of Iowa Travel Industry Partners
  • Dagny Ashley – Director of Tourism at City of Quincy
  • Gary Hahn – Vice President of Marketing and Communications National Comedy Center
  • Inna Cramer – Sales Director at Rocky Mountaineer

Group Travel Insight from American Bus Association’s Annual Marketplace

The American Bus Association’s Annual Marketplace is an exceptional event that brings together motorcoach and tour operators, as well as industry suppliers, providing them with an opportunity to connect and establish new relationships to advance their businesses. Recently, I had the privilege of interviewing some of the distinguished attendees at the Annual Marketplace, where I gained insights into how building partnerships and actively seeking collaborations has transformed their industry in recent years. Join me as we delve deeper into the importance of collaboration in shaping the future of the motorcoach and tour operator industry.

Amy DeFrancesco- National Sales Executive at Drury Hotels

Amy shares the importance of collaboration in the hospitality industry. She notes the rebound from the pandemic and the return of international travelers as key areas of growth. She also dives into the issues of booking window shrinkage in the industry and discusses its pros and cons, including better market awareness and pressures on the operational team.

Amy also shares her pride that Drury Hotels has been awarded the highest guest satisfaction in the upper midscale chain for the 17th consecutive year. The recent opening of their largest hotel on Disney property in December 2022 is a testament to their continued growth. Amy emphasizes that what drew them to their partners is their shared values of high standards and integrity, which makes for great collaborations.

Ryan Sanders – Vice President of Operations and Sales for the Motorcoach Family of Brands

In the travel industry, attending events and trade shows is crucial for networking and staying up-to-date with industry changes. Ryan shares his experience of attending appointments and events at the ABA conference, where he was impressed with the resilience of the industry organizations, including ABA. Despite the challenges brought on by the pandemic, these organizations have managed to survive and support their members, ensuring that industry professionals can continue to connect and collaborate — which is why his word of the conference is “evolving.”

Chelsea Lerud – Executive Director of Iowa Travel Industry Partners

Chelsea shares that in terms of group travel, they’re seeing some exciting changes in the market. Specifically, in Iowa, they are noticing that travelers are using the state as a stopover on their way to their final destination. While Iowa may not be their ultimate goal, the team at Iowa Travel Industry Partners is excited to capture visitors at a few key locations. A strategy that encourages travelers to take a longer trip and explore more of what Iowa has to offer. She goes on to comment that “It’s exciting to see the evolution of group travel, and we’re thrilled to be a part of it.”

Dagny Ashley – Director of Tourism at City of Quincy

Dagny, of Tourism at City of Quincy, is excited for 2023 and getting back to the business of travel. After a tough few years for both the hospitality industry and suppliers, her organization is looking forward to a positive outlook for the year ahead. With last year already showing signs of recovery, Dagny is confident that visitors are eager to hit the road again and start traveling. This sentiment has been echoed by others at the ABA event, with a shared sense of excitement for the year ahead and a feeling of returning to a new normal in the travel industry.

Gary Hahn – Vice President of Marketing and Communications National Comedy Center

Gary discusses how group travel is evolving and changing — according to Gary, they are seeing a broader demographic of visitors, including young people and students. They are also noticing more individuals from the over-50 crowd, which tends to be the motorcoach crowd that enjoys visiting museums. Gary is excited to see this change, as it presents new opportunities for engagement, especially given the technology present in their museum.

Gary shares details of an upcoming collaboration hosting of the Pennsylvania Bus Association’s annual conference in Chautauqua County. This is an exciting opportunity for the attraction, as it’s their first time bringing in the association for a conference.

Inna Cramer – Sales Director at Rocky Mountaineer

Inna, Director of Sales for Rocky Mountaineer, shared her insights on the evolving group travel industry in an interview. She mentioned that they are seeing smaller groups of families and friends wanting to travel together, as well as like-minded individuals wanting to connect and enjoy the train experience. When asked to describe ABA Marketplace in one word, Inna went for “connections.” She loves the word because it represents the opportunity to see old friends, establish new connections, and work together with industry partners to make an impact in the travel and tourism industry.

A Positive Future

After speaking with my industry expert guests, it is clear that the tour and travel sector is looking towards a positive future in 2023. My guests shared their thoughts on the changes they see in the market, trends they are keeping an eye on, and how collaboration has helped them to drive more sales, extend relationships, and build brand awareness. Niche travel, hidden gems, and a focus on remaining adaptive and agile in a constantly changing world were also discussed. Additionally, the guests had some great insights into the importance of collaboration and how it can help drive business growth.

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/

Mar 1, 2023

Amy is the fourth generation to call Wyoming home and the third generation to graduate from the University of Wyoming. Wyoming is Amy’s home. She also holds a Master of Tourism Management degree from Colorado State University and completed two internships with the Walt Disney College Program as an undergrad, one where she earned not only her “ears” but a Ducktorate Degree as well.

She embraces the opportunity to share all that Wyoming has to offer with others. From its iconic national parks, amazing scenery, incredible outdoor experiences, fascinating history, and Western Hospitality, to her, Wyoming truly is like no other place on earth, and someplace everyone should experience! In her spare time, she likes to hike, kayak, check out breweries, and dabble with photography. She also writes a column for a local newspaper called Wandering Amylessly, where she shares about life lessons she learns through travel.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Amy Larsen about how her team is collaborating with neighboring states to develop innovative travel products and promote lesser-known destinations. Amy also shares her outside-the-box thinking in developing winter products for group tours in Wyoming.

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • Amy shares the story of how she ended up working in destination marketing via a Disney internship program
  • How Amy helps create buzz around a bucket list destination like Yellowstone National Park and tempt visitors to explore other parts of Wyoming
  • Creative ways that Amy and her team have overcome the challenge of attracting motorcoach tours to small historic destinations with small restaurants by partnering with caterers and other service providers
  • Exciting future plans for the Wyoming Office of Tourism, including winter itineraries and creating fun outdoor experiences for visitors
  • The coopetitions that Amy is particularly proud of, including the Western Migration tour collaboration with Nebraska and the tours they created with Colorado
  • Amy’s thoughts on how the role of DMOs is evolving and how they can support visitors and local communities

Showcasing Wyoming

In the most recent episode of Destination on the Left, guest Amy emphasized the many natural attractions that draw tourists to Wyoming, such as Yellowstone National Park, which has over half the world’s thermal features within its boundaries and the iconic American symbols like the Tetons and Devil’s Tower. She also shares how her team capitalizes on visitors’ enthusiasm for those locations to showcase the rest of the state.

Creating Unforgettable Experiences

Amy spoke about the rich history of small towns in Wyoming, including the Outlaws like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, the Wild Bunch, early pioneers, and mountain men who lived in the Rocky Mountain region. She shares why the challenge for small towns is attracting tourists, particularly in the motorcoach industry, as they may not have big enough restaurants to feed all the visitors expected.

To address this, Amy suggests being creative and finding caterers in these communities who can put on dinners for visitors, such as holding a dinner for 50 people in the branding room at the fairgrounds in Torrington, which showcases every brand from Goshen County and featuring a multigenerational rancher who shared his story. Amy emphasizes the importance of finding the person who wants to tell the story and getting small towns to realize their potential and be creative in showcasing their history to visitors.

Inter-State Coopetition

On the podcast, Amy also shares a couple of exciting examples of coopetition, including partnerships with Nebraska and Colorado to develop itineraries that showcase the historical places of the states. By combining their resources, they were able to create unique experiences that bring more business to all three states. It’s so exciting to see how these collaborations are creating new opportunities for group tours and expanding the travel industry in unique ways.

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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