Local CVB attends travel showcase

The Marietta-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau joined more than 200 representatives from museums, attractions, hotels, and visitors bureaus from throughout the Midwest at Heartland Travel Showcase in Toledo, March 7-9. Heartland Travel Showcase is the Midwest’s largest motor coach marketplace and features the region’s top destinations and attractions for group tours. As a direct result of their participation, Heartland attendees have booked approximately $85,182 per business over the last three years.

Joining forces with other states and provinces attracts more tour operators and offers selling opportunities difficult to develop without a collective effort. States and provinces represented at this year’s marketplace at the SeaGate Convention Centre included Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Ontario, Canada.

Tourism representatives met one-on-one with tour operators who book packaged travel. The tour operators are looking for itinerary ideas that they can incorporate into future motorcoach tours they offer to their clients.

Jeri Knowlton, executive director of the Marietta-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, noted that group tour travel is seeing a resurgence in our area. “The group tour market is always looking for something new. St. Mary’s becoming a Basilica gives us something new to talk about and operators are excited to bring groups here to visit.” said Knowlton. “The money brought in by these group travel clients will generate an incredible amount of revenue that many businesses in both the city and the county will see.”

According to a recent study by the American Bus Association, groups traveling by bus spent $13.6 billion 2012, and another study says that number is likely to grow. Ninety-two percent of tour operators reported having more customers in 2013, said U.S. Tour Operators Association in a study released in December. When a motorcoach rolls into town, it generates revenue for restaurants, hotels, museums, attractions, shops, and more. A recent study by Group Tour Magazine says one motorcoach generates at least 23 hotel rooms booked, 46 tickets sold, and 46 meals served.

Heartland Travel Showcase will be held Feb. 20-22, 2015, at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago. For more information, please contact Janet Johnson, Heartland Travel Showcase Manager and Ohio Travel Association Deputy Director, at 1-800-896-4682.