Travel show opens exciting possibilities

Published 11:00 pm Saturday, March 14, 2009

Recently I had the opportunity to participate in the Heartland Travel showcase. Held last month in Pittsburgh, Pa., this four-day event brings together tour operators from across the nation and allows them to meet with representatives of attractions, museums, hotels and other travel and tourism related businesses and venues. The suppliers hail from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, West Virginia, Wisconsin, plus Ontario, Canada.

During prescheduled meetings with the Midwest’s top destinations for group tour, I was able to uncover many authentic Heartland treasures and future group travel opportunities at this motor coach trade show.

After four days packed full of educational programs and destination information my mind was spinning with all the new travel itineraries and possibilities. It is going to take me a couple of weeks to digest and process all the information.

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I’ll share some of the interesting places that I discovered at Heartland. Some are fairly well known while others are off the much travelled path.

Most if not all of the destinations are within an easy day’s drive and would make wonderful long weekend getaways for family, friends and even romantics.

One of the reoccurring themes echoed throughout the conference was special “niche” travel markets.

It seemed that every city, attraction and/or supplier had created special packages for certain travelers traveling either as a few individuals or a large group.

Girl friends or best friends’ forever packages were everywhere. Not wanting to leave out another audience I saw plenty of guys’ getaways’ too! These packages were very different from the past offerings of golf, hunting or fishing expeditions.

Another large group of vacation packages were aimed at the intergenerational market. My working definition of intergenerational travel is the old family vacation of the 1950s, `60s and `70s. Grandparents are now being added to the vacation mix and destinations are actively promoting these as “grandparents” getaways.

Another over worked phrase was “stimulus package.” But I have to admit that there were plenty of extremely attractively priced package offers for travel in 2009 and early 2010. I know that I will be taking advantage of a few of the offerings.

Happy travels!