Sports Leisure’s 2012 Tour & Vacations catalog has hit the streets. After a nearly picture-perfect Tour Preview Day on Saturday, August 27th, at the Marriott before a crowd of over 600, the catalogs hit the post office and have been delivered to the nearly 8,000 Travel Club Members who weren’t a part of Preview Day.
The process began in the spring, when staff members are invited to submit destination ideas. An entire afternoon was spent sorting through the suggestions made by our staff and our travelers on evaluations and by mail and e-mail, deciding which ones might be on the schedule next year. A second “elimination” round followed two months later and a draft of the catalog was drawn up.
Next, vendors are contacted, pricing and availability negotiated. (Except with the airlines, they negotiate practically nothing. It’s take it or leave it with them. If only we didn’t need them to execute our travels together.) Hotels are chosen, restaurants and menus selected, attractions blended into the itinerary, timing is watched carefully to create a leisurely itinerary whenever possible.
Copy writing in up next. Each tour planner is responsible for writing their own copy. In that respect, the catalog doesn’t read like a book, because it has many different authors. It’s more of a collection. It represents the dreams of our staff and the dreams of our clients. It is the culmination of months of hard work and collective thought, while keeping in mind that not everyone is able to take a $5,000 trip (either physically or financially). In fact, some of our best trips are in the moderate price category.
I’m especially proud of some of my own new ideas for next year. There’s a 3-day trip to Weaverville, a gem in the Trinity Alps, west of Redding. Another features the town of Sisters, Oregon; a wonderful low-mountain community in the Cascades about three hours from Portland. Waterfalls and the great outdoors abound, with a naturalist guide that makes it all come to life. Finally, Chris Galloway and I worked together on a visit to Wendover, Nevada/Utah, a place we discovered had lots of promise on our recent Lincoln Highway tour, to create a new desert destination.
I‘d like to think there’s something for everyone who likes to travel within the pages of our catalog. Special commendation goes to my staff, who worked their buns off before during and after Preview Day to create and market our new dream book. I hope you find something in there that made your “bucket list,” a place you just have to visit. If that’s the case, then we have done our job.
One last thing. For 32+ years, I have been blessed with the opportunity to be involved in an amazing profession, the chance to take people places they’ve always dreamed of. It is a spectacular way to experience life, sharing it with others in special places. And while I don’t venture off the continent as much as I used to, I’ve found there are a multitude of wonderful places right here in North America. Some are just around the corner. My staff has found some that are around the world. Either way, here’s a toast to dreams coming true on the road in the year ahead. Thank you for the privilege.