By Lynda Nemeth, executive director of Destination Geauga
In the Business of Buses Part I, I wrote about how Destination Geauga worked to bring Tour Company owners to the county on a FAMiliarization Tour as part of the American Bus Association (ABA) Conference. At the conclusion of the group’s three-day tour, they headed for Cleveland for the actual start of the convention. I also headed to Cleveland and took advantage of every opportunity I had to interact with the tour owners. As a local and partner of Destination Cleveland, I was asked to assist with the Cleveland tours that were being given on Saturday morning, meaning my day began at 6:30 a.m. When the groups returned from their downtown tours the afternoon was filled with educational seminars on trends in tourism. An evening Dine Around event allowed for more networking, but the real work was yet to begin.
With 3,500 attendees this conference is a picture of organization. Almost every bit of the new Convention Center was put to use. The ‘Marketplace floor’ was a combination of exhibitors including local attractions like the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and Jack Casino; and travel products such as a dozen full-size luxury motor coaches. The other half was approximately 450 booths, one representing each travel company at the conference.
Sunday is the day for DMOs or destination marketing organizations, like Destination Geauga, to take their appointments with the tour companies. Prior to the conference I received a list of tour operators, and their booth numbers. Operators that requested appointments with me became part of my schedule. Booths were numbered from 101 to 950, and every seven minutes I would sit down in front of someone new to talk about the merits of Geauga County and discuss possible tour itineraries for their groups. After six minutes a warning sounds and I’m on my way to my next appointment. The key to this is doing your homework ahead of time and researching each company to know what they’ll be looking for so you have the appropriate answers before you even sit down in front of them. It is a day where taking good notes and wearing comfortable shoes are key.
Now comes all the follow-up, although most of these companies are doing their 2018 planning, we may see some business in 2017 from some of the closer companies. Knowing that a motor coach full of tourists will in one day spend on average $4,000 to $6,000, you can be sure Destination Geauga will be working on creative tours to bring more people and more business to Geauga County.