Restaurant and Lodging Business Owners

Profit Generating Tips for Restaurant and Lodging Business Owners

Over my years spent in the travel and tourism industry I have used several successful, low cost marketing methods to increase a business’s share of the group travel market.

As such, what follows are four of my easy, low cost steps that any lodging, restaurant or attraction business owner can employ to increase their share of the group travel market in 2011.

Step One

First and foremost, those that want to build their share of the group travel market should become familiar with the following organizations and their publications; “National Tour Association”, “American Bus Association”, “Pennsylvania Bus Association”, “Maryland Motor Coach Association”, “Ontario Motor Coach Association”, and the “Group Travel Leader.”

Examples of the publications include but are not limited to; “Group Travel Leaders”, “Bank Travel Management”, “Going on Faith”, “Winning Sports Meetings and Destinations”, “Destinations”, “Courier”, “Tuesday Newsletter” and the “NTA Trip Planner.”

These magazines, newsletters and e-zines are produced throughout the year and focus on different market segments central to increasing group travel market share.

For example, “Group Travel Leader” magazine is published monthly and has a circulation of 30,000 group travel leaders. 74 percent of the magazine’s readership includes visits to theaters in their trip planning.

Step Two

Once one is familiar with the previously mentioned organizations and their publications, it is time to obtain copies of their media kits, editorial and event calendars.

Accessing the editorial calendars of each is a simple task. Most of the publications maintain websites wherein current media kits can be readily downloaded.

These items will be needed in order to implement the next suggested steps for building one’s share of the group travel market.

Step Three

With information in hand, one should begin to review the editorial calendars first to see when the publications are focusing on things pertinent to one’s marketing efforts.

For example, “Destinations” magazine’s 2011 editorial calendar indicates that the March/April issue will be devoted to highlighting culinary tours, food festivals, farmer’s markets and agritourism.

Therefore, restaurant marketing managers may want to consider writing articles on their businesses and sending them into “Destinations” magazine for possible inclusion in their March/April issue.

The restaurant manager may also want to consider purchasing advertising space in that issue as well. Doing so will give the manager more proverbial “bang for her buck.”

Step Four

After the editorial calendars have been reviewed it is time to look at the organization’s event calendars. The event calendars generally contain such pertinent information as a list of upcoming trade shows, FAM trips, special events and other joint industry marketing opportunities.

This information is important because it gives tourism industry suppliers a chance to showcase their wares on a broader scale through such things as sponsorships, door prizes and gift baskets. Often times the cost of participating in the event is as low as the price of the item one is donating.

For example, organizations such as the “Pennsylvania Bus Association” participate in “National Travel and Tourism Week.”

For the uninitiated, “National Travel and Tourism Week” is an annual event that is scheduled to take place this year from May 7th until May 15th, 2011.

Those businesses that feel that it is too cost prohibitive to make their own gift baskets may want to consider soliciting the help of various related businesses in their area to make up one basket.

The gift baskets should then be given to organizations such as the “National Tour Association” to be distributed during key local, state and national events.

Additional Information

The above are just four easy steps to take towards increasing one’s share of the lucrative group travel market in 2011.

Those that would like to learn more about travel and tourism marketing techniques should consider consulting with their local tourism marketing professional.

Winter Car Travel Tips for Vacations in Ice or Snow

Winter Car Travel Tips for Vacations in Ice or Snow

Everyone wants to have a fun filled vacation no matter what season it is. Before you hit the open road, it’s important to read up on winter car travel tips. Taking precautions can prevent problems on the road and can make it easier if you do get stuck.

Several years ago my family learned the value of using winter car travel tips to prepare for a trip. We successfully drove from Raleigh, North Carolina to East Tennessee in one of the worst snow and ice storms that has been recorded. Travel was dicey at times but we made it home.

I now live in the higher elevations of East Tennessee. I now put many of these winter car travel tips into practice frequently. So far, they’ve been invaluable.

Car maintenance

Maintaining your car doesn’t guarantee that it won’t break down but it does reduce your chances. Drivers should be especially careful in cold weather. One of the best car travel tips is to inspect your car before leaving the driveway. Don’t just check the fluid levels. Check all lights, brakes and tires at the very least. Fix anything that you find wrong.

Tires need to have good tread to hold onto snow or ice. Checking your tire tread depth doesn’t require a fancy tool. Here are instructions on how to use a penny to check it out. You’ll also want to check your tire pressure. This can be done at almost any gas station.

Car emergency bag

Another good winter car travel tip is to pack an emergency bag. Commercially prepared bags can be picked up at any auto parts store. Flashlights, electrical and duck tape, tools to fix or change a tire, reflective triangles and glow sticks are all popular items. Your car mechanic can make other suggestions.

Cell phones versus two-way radios

Believe it or not, you may want to have both available. For either one to work they will need to have fully charged batteries and be able to get a signal. Terrain comes into play with both.

Nothing is ever a guarantee but a winter car travel tip is to always to have a back up to your cell phone. Cell phones may not work in remote or mountainous areas so a two way radio (walkie-talkie) may be helpful. The radio signal strength is more limited than a cell phone but has its advantages. The channel may be used by other people or monitored by emergency services.

Tell your family

Be certain of your route and tell your family or a friend. Winter car travel tips include leaving your vehicle description, license plate number and cell phone number with another person along with an estimated departure and arrival time. If you don’t make your destination as scheduled someone will know to look for you and where to start.

Auto club

Auto club membership can provide you with roadside assistance. Some plans will help you with unexpected trip expenses if your vehicle becomes damaged.

Dress for the weather

Heels might be pretty but they won’t help you in the snow. Wear solid shoes or boots. You can dress up later. The same goes for jackets, hats and gloves. Wear them (or at least bring them) and be ready to use them.

Comfort items

Winter car travel tips include packing bottled water, snacks, blankets, music and other comfort items. In case you get stuck roadside you may want them. If you are taking regular prescription medications be sure to bring the prescription bottles. You may need more than you think. Parents with small children should have more diapers and formula than the anticipate needing.

These winter car travel tips aren’t meant for severely isolated areas but for general travel on interstates and main thoroughfares. Extra research and planning is required for the remote Cassiar Highway or any similar route.

Helpful Tips when Planning a Trip

Helpful Tips when Planning a Trip

Planning a trip is exciting. Just the thought of getting away from routine is exhilarating. But planning a vacation can also be stressful. Will you forget to bring an extra pair of shoes? Will you remember to print out your boarding pass? Will you miss your flight?

Relax. The whole point of taking a trip, unless it’s for business, is to relieve anxiety and tension, so when you decide to take a vacation, preparation will make the trip run smoothly and it will make your life much less stressful.

Some helpful tips for planning a trip follow:

Setting a Destination (U.S.)

Unless you’re one of those people who likes to get in the car and just go wherever life takes you, utilize Yahoo Maps. Yahoo Maps tell you not only how to arrive at your destination, but also how long it will take you to get there.

Along with Yahoo Maps, GPS systems provide a great backup plan to help you arrive at your destination with less stress. However, if your GPS system is more than a couple years old, you will have to update it.

When my sister and I took a trip to Florida recently, we took along my GPS. Orlando’s roads had changed since I got my GPS system, though, so we were routed to a road that no longer existed. Unbeknownst to me at the time, most GPS systems offer update software online. Garmin, for instance, offers updates at Garmin.com (click the link).

Setting a Destination (Abroad)

Utilize the help of the U.S. Department of State. They offer travel information and alerts, and if you sign up for their Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, they will assist you in case of an emergency. Their web site also provides links that will help you become better acquainted with the laws of the country you will be visiting. Visit the U.S. Department of State Tips for Traveling Abroad for more information on how to have a safe trip.

Also, when traveling abroad, check your insurance coverage to make sure you are covered for medical emergencies in other countries.

Military, AARP, and Other Discounts

If you belong to the military or AARP, ask about discounts. Most places won’t offer that information up front – you have to ask. My son, a U.S. Marine, along with his wife and children, stay at the Hyatt whenever they travel. Not only do they get a great break on hotel prices (comparable to priceline.com and expedia.com), but they also accumulate points they can use toward future stays. Right now they have almost enough points to stay at a hotel in Hawaii FREE for a week!

Pack Like a Pro

Before you go anywhere, you have to pack. Knowing what to pack for a trip requires some forethought. Questions you need to ask yourself are how many days you will be gone and what types of events you will be attending.

Start a list. You will refer to it both before you leave and again when you pack to return home. Once you know what types of clothing you will require, pack all necessary blouses, shirts, skirts, dresses, shoes, socks, panty hose, jewelry (you might want to keep your expensive jewelry at home in a safe), hair ornaments, and other accessories. Don’t forget sleepwear, swimwear, and underwear.

One item often forgotten is sunglasses. A second pair of glasses or additional contacts (along with contact solution) could help, too, in case something unforeseen lengthens your stay.

Pat attention to weather changes. Dress for the climate. But also dress for whatever the temperature will be when you return home. I once left a jacket in San Diego that I didn’t remember until I arrived at Midway Airport in Chicago one cold winter day.

The best way to make sure you don’t forget anything is to go through your day from beginning to end. From the time you awaken in the morning, write down everything you need. Items you use in the shower might be available in hotels, but if you have a preference for specific shower items, make sure you pack them.

From razors to makeup to personal sanitary products to hair supplies, continue writing your packing list. If you take medication, make sure you pack enough meds to take you a couple of days beyond the date of your return in case of inclement weather. Most medications can be purchased in drug stores across the country, but if you are receiving aid from the state in which you reside, you will have to pay full price for your medication across state lines.

Pack laptops, cell phones, iPods, or any other electronic devices you might need for yourself or for other family members, and don’t forget the chargers. If you will be driving a rental, don’t forget to pack your GPS device.

And finally, don’t forget your outerwear, boarding pass, passports, visas, photo IDs, day planners, tickets, itineraries, and your packing list.

Allow Yourself Plenty of Time

If you are someone who is notoriously late, the last thing you want to do is miss your flight. Pretend you are leaving an hour earlier. Rushing is counterproductive. The more relaxed you are when you leave your home, and the more time you give yourself, the more likely you will get to the airport on time.

Airport Security  amp; Homeland Security

Before you leave home, check the current threat level through the Homeland Security Advisory System. As of this writing, for instance, the threat level for all domestic and international flights in the U.S. is High, or Orange. The higher the threat level, the longer the time you will spend going through security.

Homeland Security also asks travelers to establish an emergency preparedness kit and to prepare an emergency plan (links are provided for both by clicking on them).

Depending on where you go, you might have to pay an airport security fee. Guatemala, for instance (as of this writing) requires a fee that equals approximately $2.50.

Check with the airline(s) to see how many suitcases you can bring on board and how many you are allowed to check in.

Also, check the contents of your carry-ons. Something as simple as hand lotion may be confiscated at the security check point. You must dispose of water bottles too.

How to Meet Your Friends Halfway

Sometimes travel includes meeting friends or relatives, but finding a midway point is difficult. Even grabbing a map and measuring the distance doesn’t help, because you don’t always know exactly where to meet. Midway points need not be a problem though, due to Geomidpoint’s “Meet in the Middle” tool. Geomidpoint helps travelers find the midway point between two cities. It also offers choices for restaurant, hotels, movie theaters, golf, shopping, entertainment, and more. Just plug in both addresses, or both cities, and you will find your midway point, along with some places to meet.

Bring an Empty Suitcase

If you plan on shopping while you are gone, you may want to bring an extra empty suitcase. Souvenirs take up room and if your luggage is already packed to the gills you won’t be able to accommodate any additional clothing or gifts.

Customs Inspections

Make sure the items you purchase as souvenirs will pass inspection. If you are carrying items that you think other countries might find suspicious, contact the Customs Inspections departments for the country you will be visiting. For information on acceptable entry items into the United States from other countries, go to CBP.gov.

In Closing

Tell at least one person where you are going. While getting away from everything and everybody seems like a great idea, leaving without telling somebody can be a deadly decision. Somebody should know how to reach you. People who love you, if they haven’t heard from you shortly after you are supposed to return, will be grateful for having a way to contact you. Leave behind a copy of your itinerary, and alert at least one person if you expect a delay in your return.

Finally, be safe and enjoy!

Preschool Aged Children

Educational Road Trip Games and Activities for Preschool Aged Children

Long car trips with preschool age children are a challenge for both the kids and the parents alike. Make your car time with the family more enjoyable and educational this season with these travel games and activities for preschool aged children.

Play I Spy Say to your child, “I spy with my little eye something blue,” and let your child guess what you are saying. If she spies anything blue-a car, a billboard, the sky-she “wins” and gets to say the next I spy riddle. (Vocabulary and observation skills)

Pack a Trip Bag Load up a backpack or canvas bag with some of your child’s favorite toys that can be played while sitting: white boards and markers, small toys, Silly Putty, travel games, coloring books, etc… Include a few new games and toys, especially ones related to travel such as toy cameras, toy binoculars, journals and toy cell phones. (Creativity, role play, small motor skills)

Make a Map Take a hint from Dora the Explorer and make a simple map of where you are going and some of the landmarks you will be passing. Use simple drawings as icons of what you will be passing: forests, cities, bridges, mountains, lakes, rivers, and towns. Every so often take out the map and show how far you’ve gone. (Visual skills, map skills)

Pack a Sing Along Tape Preschoolers love to sing and they love when their parents sing with them, too. They also don’t care if you sing off key. (Vocabulary skills)

Play Travel Bingo Draw or find clip art pictures of items that you commonly see on the road and make a few bingo cards with nine pictures (three across and three down) or sixteen pictures (four across and four down). Make sure the pictures are items that you commonly see on a road trip, such as stoplights, RVs, Exit signs, airplanes and so on. Let your child look for the items on the card until he gets Bingo. (Observation skills)

Silly Sounds Make up sound effects to go with the things you see on the road. Say “moo, moo” every time you see a cow, “beep, beep” when you see a bus, “splish, splash” when you cross a river, and “vroom, vroom” when you pass a convertible. Your child will be giggling all the way to you destination. (Oral language skills)

Counting Signs Give your child a piece of paper and a pencil. Ask her to keep track of how many items she sees in two minutes, such as stop signs, cows, big trucks, and other common items. Show her how to make an X on her paper every time she sees the item. At the end of two minutes, say “stop” and count the Xes. (Math and small motor skills)

Group Drawings Give your child a piece of paper and crayons and let him draw one thing on the picture, such as a person or a tree, and pass it to the next person. The next person adds something else to the picture, such as a sun or a house, and passes it on. Continue until the entire paper is full. (Creativity, small motor skills)

Cincinnati Bed and Breakfasts Treat Guests Like Royalty

Cincinnati Bed and Breakfasts Treat Guests Like Royalty

Bed and Breakfasts put out the red carpet treatment to their guests in Cincinnati, Ohio. Located in Southwest Ohio, Cincinnati is a busy city with a thriving tourism industry that draws in millions of travelers every year. The largest Labor Day fireworks show in the United States as well as the second largest Oktoberfest in the world bring in half a million people alone. It is easy to get lost in the shuffle in this busy city, but for a little royal treatment in the Queen city why not try a locally owned bed and breakfast. Individual treatment with a focus on customer services and quality above quantity are traits along the local bread and breakfasts.

The Grace and Glory Bed and Breakfast, located at 3539 Shaw Avenue in Cincinnati, Ohio offers its guests a refugee from the hustle and bustle of downtown Cincinnati. The Grace and Glory bed and breakfast is a beautiful restored Colonial style home, where the focus is on hospitality, charm and comfort. It is 10 minutes north of Downtown Cincinnati and a short walk to local Hyde Park Square, a local gathering place surrounded by clothing shops, coffee shops, breweries, eateries, restaurants, and art galleries. A stay with at the B B; includes a complimentary breakfast and access to their charming parlor, solarium, and living room. Rooms are decorated with antiques and a great nights sleep can be found in one of their many four-poster beds. Guests are centrally located in Cincinnati, giving them easy access to local attractions such as the Cincinnati Zoo, the National Underground Railroad Museum, and the Cincinnati Art Museum.

The Wallace House Bed and Breakfast is just five minutes south of Downtown Cincinnati in Covington, Kentucky. A Queen Anne style mansion built in 1905 by Robert B. Wallace, a local landowner. Guests have free reign over their large billiard room and expansive front porch. Amenities include a large screen television as well as high-speed Internet access so you can keep in touch with others while you are traveling. Their web site, www.bbonline/ky/wallacehouse offers specials and the chance to make your reservations online. Ideally located within five minutes of Great American Ballpark, Paul Brown Stadium, and the Cincinnati business district on Walnut Street makes this a convenient place to stay for work or play. Take advantage of the local riverboats that travel up an down the Ohio River, stopping within minutes of the Wallace House Bed and breakfast.

The Clifton House Bed and Breakfast, at 500 Terrace Avenue, is located in Cincinnati’s college community near the University of Cincinnati, Xavier University, and Hebrew Union College. It is a convent location for parents to stay while visiting their children in college. TH Clifton House Bed and Breakfast is a Classic revival mansion that was built in 1900. Recent renovations have brought it up to date with modern conveniences. Guest will find a beautiful library, dining room, billiards, workout room, and living at their disposal. Breakfast as well as an afternoon stack is included with your stay. Nearby Newport Aquarium and kings Island offers parents and their departing college student fun activities while they visit. Ludlow business districts is steps away from the bed and breakfast and provides an array of shops, restraints, coffee shops, boutiques, bookstores, and Cincinnati’s oldest movie theater. Wine and cheese is offered on the large front porch in the afternoons. A quick search of their website www.cliftonhouse.com provides guests with a list of their specials as well as chance to register to win a free two night stay.

Nearby Gaslight Bed  amp; Breakfast also offers a great central Clifton location. The University of Cincinnati is only steps away as well as University and Good Samaritan Hospitals. Built in1909 Gaslight Bed and Breakfast has been restored to the modern day standards of many hotels. As you walk up the steps to the front t entrance you are greeted with a cascading waterfall, a sign of what is to come on the interior of this lovely bed and breakfast. Overstuffed furniture and floor to ceiling windows invite guests to relax while they read the paper and enjoy their breakfast. A second floor kitchen is convenient for guests to make snacks for themselves or for the avid foody to cook their own meal. This is also convenient for guests who will have an extended stay. Cable television, high speed internet access, private phone line, top of the line mattresses, and sheets make this an ideal place to stay for those of you who can not forgo the luxuries of a hotel. Each morning a full home-style breakfast is served to their guests. This luxurious four-story mansion provides peace, tranquility, and convenience in the thriving Clifton area.

Six Acres Bed and Breakfast is 6500 square foot mansion locate din in the College Hill neighborhood of Cincinnati. One of the oldest bed and breakfast in Cincinnati, it was built around 1850. Zebulon Strong, an abolitionist and local participant in the Underground Railroad built the home. Special guided tours lead guests on trails that run away slaves traveled to their freedom. History overflows at this beautifully restored home. Guests know they are only one of many travelers who have been through this spot. Rooms are named after staff member’s grandmothers. Amenities include massage therapy; turn down service, a full breakfast, and satellite television. Many activities are hosted by the bed and breakfast including quilting and cooking classes as well as other educational seminars. Each summer the Six Acres Bed and breakfast hosts a summer concert series. Guests and local relax in the beautifully landscape ground while they live to local artists perform. Guest are encouraged to bring their own seating and picnic dinners. Located only fifteen minutes north of downtown, wedding, retreats and work related seminars are commonly held at the Six Acres Bed and breakfast. A visit to their website www.sixacresbb.com provides information on specially priced packages as well as group rates. This beautiful tranquil setting provides a great place to relax in a natural setting.

Whether you are looking for an in town location or a tranquil natural landscape the Queen City’s bed and breakfast’s treat their guests like royalty.

Vancouver Travel Tips and Tricks

Every city’s different, but with these handy travel tips about Vancouver, you’ll feel just like a local in no time. From dog owners to weather worriers, and on to those that just want to get the lay of the land before they arrive, this section tips will help get you ready for your very own adventure.

FAST FACTS

Population

Based on the 2011 Canadian Census, the population of the City of Vancouver is estimated to be 603,502. The Vancouver metropolitan region is home to an estimated total population of 2.3 million people, representing 52.3% of B.C.’s population of 4.4 million.

Languages

Federal government departments provide service in English and French, but most of the population speaks English as either a first or second language.

The City of Vancouver is quite cosmopolitan and is a mix of many multicultural groups. Because the city is multicultural, it’s also multilingual on an unofficial level. Its people speak many different languages and many follow the traditions of their native lands, sometimes moderating them with Canadian culture.

After English and Chinese, the most common mother tongue languages spoken are Punjabi, German, Italian, French, Tagalog (Filipino) and Spanish. More than half of Vancouver’s school-age children have been raised speaking a language other than English.

Currency

We recommend all visitors use Canadian currency (the Canadian Dollar – CAD) when travelling within Canada. Visitors can exchange currency at Canadian chartered banks, trust companies, credit unions, or at offices of foreign exchange brokers, but it is advised to have local currency on hand prior to arriving. Some hotels, merchants, restaurants and suppliers accept US or other foreign currency at a pre-determined rate, which may differ from the daily rate posted by financial institutions.

The Canadian Dollar is made up of 100 Canadian cents. Coins are in denominations of 5 cents (nickel), 10 cents (dime), 25 cents (quarter), $1 (loonie), and $2 (toonie).  Notes are in denominations $5, $10, $20, $50, $100 and $1,000.

Note that Canada phased out use of the 1 cent (penny) coin in 2013. If you are paying cash, the total amount of your purchases will be rounded either up or down to the closest 5 cents. Credit card and debit card payments are not rounded. For more information, visit the Royal Canadian Mint website.

Taxation

Most purchases in British Columbia are subject to a 7% Provincial Sales Tax (PST) as well as a federal 5% Goods and Services Tax (GST), with a few exceptions including liquor (10% PST) and accommodation (8% PST plus up to 3% hotel tax). Some goods such as food and restaurant meals, books and magazines, and children’s clothing are GST and/or PST exempt. For more information, visit the Province of British Columbia’s website.

Time Zone

Vancouver is in the Pacific Time Zone and observes Daylight Savings Time from the second Sunday in March until the first Sunday in November. You can see Vancouver’s time in relation to most cities around the globe by visiting www.thetimenow.com, which is also home to a Canadian calendar with important dates.

Workdays

Vancouver, like all major cities, runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In general, the standard work week is Monday to Friday, from roughly 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, but hours vary for each organization or business. Retailers are usually open seven days a week, and most stores are open from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm each day, except on Thursday and Friday, when many stores are open until 9:00 pm. Some retail stores (e.g. some drug stores and grocery outlets), nearly every hotel and motel, and some restaurants, remain open around the clock.