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The visiting Familiarization Tour group enjoy a dinner at Horse & Buggy Dinners just east of Middlefield. (MP Photo/DG)
The visiting Familiarization Tour group enjoy Maple Stirs in Burton at the Log Cabin. (MP Photo/DG)

By Lynda Nemeth, executive director Destination Geauga

The Republican National Convention got plenty of attention for the people and revenue it brought to the Cleveland area in 2016. However, the American Bus Association (ABA) Conference that just wrapped up has the potential to bring even greater economic revenue to all of Northeast Ohio, and Destination Geauga made sure that they were part of the action.

Prior to the week-long conference that brought in 3,500 Tourism professionals, Tour Company owners were given the opportunity to sign up for Familiarization Tours of the area (known in the industry as FAM Tours) Areas surrounding Cleveland were able to submit an itinerary to entice tour companies to their area. Knowing most places were going to submit a day trip Destination Geauga contacted Lake and Ashtabula to propose a three-day tour.

We then submitted the “Ohio’s Sweetest Corner’ tour and it was an immediate sell-out. Each group is limited to 20 participants so they can have a quality experience. Our group was comprised of tour companies from 11 states, and Canada.

We were totally responsible for every part of the journey, including collecting everyone from the airport.  A big thank you to Precious Cargo for being part of our team for this endeavor. The group spent one day in each of the counties. In Geauga County I accompanied them as they toured 13 stops on their nine-hour day, including Maple sugaring locations, shopping stops, and dinner in an Amish home; all locations that would be available for them to bring their groups.

After the last day of their tour they will head to Cleveland and officially start their conference time. I will also be heading into Cleveland for the conference. Here I will have the opportunity to take seven-minute appointments with different tour companies for an entire day to discuss bringing their groups to Geauga County. Watch for the details of that in The Business of Buses, Part Two, in the next edition of the Middlefield Post.

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