Monday, August 25, 2014

Becoming a Tourist Attraction, Part 3 in a 3-part series


This is the last of our series on attracting tourists to your restaurant.

Becoming a Tourist Attraction- Part 3

Whether or not you are near a tourism hub, you may be able to attract travelers to your restaurant. By establishing yourself as unique, you can turn yourself into a destination for culinary tourists. Try the following:

Offer regional cuisine.
Many travelers are looking for cultural education, and offering unique, regional cuisine will pique their interest. For example, if you are in San Antonio, consider serving chile con carne. If you are in Chicago, serve gourmet hot dogs. If you are on the beach, serve fresh seafood. You could also serve local wines and beers, or feature local produce in your menu.

Develop your unique selling point (USP).
The more unique your restaurant, the more likely you will become a destination for tourism. Theme restaurants, exhibition cooking, and unique dining experience can attract tourists. For example, Casa Bonita in Denver attracts tourists by offering cliff divers, costumes and other forms of entertainment. You could renovate your restaurant to include a unique interior design or even offer cooking classes to teach tourists how to make local dishes.

Get press.
The best way to become a tourist destination is to get regional and/or national press. If you get enough press and good reviews, travelers might visit your area just to eat at your restaurant, or they may remember your restaurant when the inevitable question is posed: “Where should we eat out tonight?”

Organize a local culinary event.
Get together with other local businesses, restaurants and farmers’ markets to organize a regional or city-wide culinary festival or dining event. For example, restaurants in the City of Boulder host an annual weeklong event called “First Bite,” where top local restaurants offer a unique three course $26 fixed-price dinner menu. Such an event may require you to work with the competition, but it can increase culinary tourism in your area, especially if the event highlights regional cuisine. If your region already puts on an arts or culinary festival, like “Taste of Georgetown,” make sure to participate or vend at the location.       

Thank you for reading our three-part series on attracting tourists to a restaurant. For further information on making your restaurant more attractive to tour groups, please contact sales@visitkankakeecounty.com

Monday, August 11, 2014

Capitalizing on a Nearby Tourist Attraction, Part 2 of 3-part a series


Please enjoy the second part of our series on attracting tourist to your restaurant.

Capitalizing on a Nearby Tourist Attraction  Part 2

If you operate a restaurant near a tourist attraction like a museum, beach, theme park or event center, make sure you capitalize on your good location. In addition to the essential marketing techniques mentioned above, use some of these tactics to catch the interest of tourists:

Use outdoor signs.
A large sign and a sidewalk menu will help you attract passersby. Prominent outdoor signage is especially important if you operate within walking distance of a major tourist attraction, like a beach, museum or downtown.

Buy billboard space.
To attract tourists traveling by road, consider purchasing billboard space on a major interstate, especially if your restaurant is near an exit. It is also a good idea to advertise on the major highways near the airport, since you might catch the eye of a traveler in a cab or rental car.

Advertise in newspapers.
Many travelers will buy a local newspaper or pick up a free one at their hotel. If you hope to attract their business, consider advertising in the papers, especially during tourist season.

Form partnerships
Partner with charter bus companies, travel agencies, local hotels and event centers. For example, you could agree to give discounts to mutual customers, and ask them to distribute coupons or menus for your restaurant. Some hotels and convention centers will even give visitors a coupon book for local businesses. You should also consider forming a friendship with and giving a permanent discount to the employees at hotels and visitor centers. Many travelers will ask these locals for restaurant recommendations.

Become a rewards provider.
As a rewards provider, joining a rewards network – like ThankYou, SkyMiles Dining or Rewards Network Restaurant Cashback – can help you to attract business from people who eat out frequently when traveling.

Be sure to check back for the last entry in the series: Part 3 Becoming a Tourist Attraction

Monday, July 28, 2014

Attracting Customers to a Restaurant, Part 1 in a 3-part series



Culinary tourism is gaining popularity. When people take vacations and travel, they usually want more beyond simple relaxation or a business trip. They are seeking cultural education, in part by experiencing the local cuisine.

Essentials for Attracting Out-of-Town Customers –Part 1

Any restaurant could profit from out-of-town customers. If you hope to attract tourists and out-of-towners, you need to use the right marketing techniques to catch their interest. There are two ways to attract tourists to a restaurant: be near a tourist attraction, or become the tourist attraction. Either way, make sure you do the following:

Maintain a website.
Almost 50% of consumers have visited a restaurant website. Since they do not have firsthand knowledge of the region, tourists and out-of-towners are even more likely than the average customer to surf the Internet for a good place to eat. If you already have a website, send a link request to the local chamber of commerce or tourism bureau.

Get listed in the phonebook.
There is a phonebook in almost every hotel room. If you are not listed in the phonebook, it might be difficult for out-of-towners to find your address and phone number. In a crunch, travelers will often turn to the phonebook to find a place to eat. In addition to getting listed, you might consider placing an ad in the yellow pages with some details about your restaurant and your takeout and delivery services.

Distribute paper menus.
If you hope to sell to travelers, you need a paper menu, whether or not you offer takeout and delivery. Place the menu in strategic locations, like hotel lobbies, visitor centers, car rental agencies, airports and local bulletin boards. Your paper menu will serve as a mini-advertisement for your restaurant.

Get listed in restaurant guides.
If you are located in a tourism hub or a popular travel destination, it is essential that you get listed in restaurant guides and directories. This includes online restaurant guides like RestaurantRow.com and Dine.com, as well as any print restaurant directories that will list you, such as hotel restaurant guides, the AAA Travel Destination Guide, the Michelin Guide, etc.

Offer good parking.
Travelers who are new to the area do not want to search for a parking space. If your parking situation is lacking, you might have difficulty convincing tourists that your restaurant is worth the hassle of parking far away. If you do not have a parking lot, partner with a local garage or lot and implement a free valet parking service.
By making use of the above tactics, you will make your restaurant available to both tourists and business travelers who are looking for a place to eat out.

Be sure to check back for part 2, capitalizing on a Nearby Tourist Attraction!

Monday, July 14, 2014

How Baby Boomers Influence Travel, Part 2


Here is the second installment on Baby Boomer Travel:

7. Boomers think they are special. Always been a force to be reckoned with, they are very demanding consumers. "Whether they go budget or luxury, boomers tend to want the best," said Day.

What boomers definitely do not want is herding. To many boomers, group travel has the faint aroma of a cattle drive. This has prompted some operators to drop tours from their names. Others have pared down group size, either by forming smaller groups or breaking larger groups into subsets which engage in different activities simultaneously.

Day suggested tour operators offer products that provide group transportation and accommodations, but impose a less rigid structure on travelers' daily movements. "I can see a much more à la carte approach that allows more independence," she said. The experts also recommended promotional materials down play the group aspect of tours and emphasize the benefits to individuals.

8. Boomers like creature comforts. This fact, according to Malott, actually keeps boomers from booking the exotic locales they profess to like. Day puts a slightly different spin on the issue. "A tent is OK," she said, "but it better have a great view and great food. Even if you're in the wilderness, luxury is being served a delicious meal without having to lift a finger."

9. Boomers are time deprived. To get relief from their stressful schedules, boomers vacation at spas where they can do absolutely nothing but be pampered. Or they may go to the opposite extreme, choosing adventures that are physically or mentally challenging - or both.

When booking travel, boomers also need time-saving devices. They like 800 numbers, the Internet, videos and virtual reality because they offer convenience and interactivity. Their predilection for technology can reduce travel suppliers' costs for agents' commissions and printing and mailing brochures. However, it also means call centers must be staffed to meet whenever boomers call.

Internet use is so common among Mature Traveler readers, editor Malott automatically lists website addresses along with phone numbers. Day pointed out that boomers use the Internet more for information gathering than booking. "It's human nature to want to feel connected to what you're about to sign up for," she said. However, she added, boomers also like the freedom of not involving other people when they are exploring a subject. Their attitude is, "When I've decided, I'll initiate the next move."

10. Boomers will pay for luxury, expertise and convenience. ATM fees, nannies and bottled water prove boomers are willing to pay for what they want. Mancini noted, "Boomers are willing to do things for themselves, if it's a hobby or if they think it won't require too much effort, but they really like to hire others to do it for them because it implies status."

Organized group travel becomes valuable to boomers when it's a physically or mentally challenging adventure, but they don't have the skill level to do it themselves. Or when safety and cost make traveling with a group more practical. "You get to an impasse where you need the experts to facilitate the experience," noted Day.

To attract boomers, tour operators must emphasize their expertise. They must add value boomers can't get on their own. Guides must become like personal trainers and demonstrate the skill and knowledge boomers will respect and pay for.

11. Boomers are skeptical of institutions and individuals. With Viet Nam and Watergate as touchstones, who can blame this generation for lacking trust? As a function of their distrust, boomers are not joiners. They are less involved with alumni groups, civic organizations and museum societies than their predecessors, so these traditional sources of group business may be less viable in the future.

Because they are skeptical, boomers actively research their travel options, so suppliers must expect a lot of information gathering before the buy decision. Public relations efforts that impart third-party or expert endorsement help break through boomers' skepticism. NTA focus groups in 1997 and 1998 said ads in local newspapers and word of mouth were the best sources of information and persuasion for travel products.

12. Boomers like to associate with people like themselves. As noted earlier, boomers do not identify with people older than themselves. According to Day, one of the questions uppermost in their minds when they purchase travel is, "Who is going to be on this trip? Is it going to be people like me or a bunch of stodgy, gray-haired people?"

Day said boomers look for outfitters or operators who "share my values,"so they are very selective about who they'll use. She added, "They want an interactive feeling with the outfitter . . . where there's equality between boomers and the leader."

13. Boomers are not homogeneous. While boomers identify themselves as boomers, they are not a single group. In terms of life stages, boomers may be the least homogeneous generation to date. There are childless-by-choice boomers, others with new babies, others with grandchildren and some with both. Fifty year olds who are retiring and others starting new careers or returning to college. Empty nesters downsizing their lives, parents who can't get their Gen Xers out of the house and others raising their grandchildren. These variations affect spending habits, the amount of time available for vacations and with whom boomers travel.

There is also a dichotomy between older and younger boomers. For those born between 1946 and 1955, Viet Nam was the defining event of their lives. For those who came later, it was Watergate. When older boomers finished college, jobs were plentiful and interest rates low. Younger boomers faced recession and 21% interest. The older group, the first to benefit from women's movement, tends to be more career-oriented. The younger ones experienced the down side of women's lib - the higher divorce rate. They also felt they never got as much attention as their older siblings, so they are more family-oriented. According to Mancini, older boomers, including himself, "thought our parents stuff was corny and stupid." Younger boomers, who watched Donna Reed and Ozzie and Harriet reruns on TV, he said, "unleashed this whole wave of nostalgia." All these factors too impact travel behavior.

If they keep these 13 truths about boomers in mind, marketers will be more successful in pursuing this large, but complex market segment.

Monday, June 30, 2014

How Baby Boomers Influence Travel Trends, Part 1


Born between 1946 and 1964, 78 million Baby Boomers changed American business at each stage of their development. Diaper services, Barbie dolls, Rolling Stone magazine, relaxed-fit jeans and SUVs - all were created in response to boomers' needs. Now it's the travel industry's turn to be affected.

Baby boomers today are between 35 and 53 years of age. They are in their peak earning years, and the oldest of them have reached the prime age for travel. Boomers, however, are significantly different travel consumers than their parents, and experts expect them to maintain those differences as they age. Travel industry organizations that fail to identify and heed the boomers' unique qualities could soon find themselves in serious trouble.

To help marketers more effectively target boomers today and in the future, Travel Marketing Decisions interviewed a series of experts to gather insight into this enormous and potentially lucrative segment. Below are 13 truths about baby boomers and their marketing implications for the industry.

1. Boomers consider travel a necessity, not a luxury. This is good news for the industry on two counts. First, the sheer number of boomers traveling will cause business to grow. Second, since travel is a necessity, boomers engage in it no matter how scarce their time or money. Their travel behavior, therefore, is less dependent on life stage or the economy.

2. Boomers have traveled more than their predecessors. While their parents first visited Europe when they retired, boomers criss-crossed the Continent as students. As experienced travelers, boomers seek out more exotic destinations or more in-depth ways of experiencing familiar places. "You're not likely to see them on bus tours of the U.S. because they already did that on their bikes or with backpacks," said Courtney Day, senior vice of the Senior Network, a New Jersey research and marketing firm that specializes in the older consumer.

Been-there-done-that is one reason adventure travel appeals to them, Day said. She defined adventure travel as either physically-challenging outdoor activity or an off-the-beaten-path destination. Because boomers are interested in bettering themselves, intellectually stimulating travel also holds appeal.

3. Boomers see themselves as forever young. This cult of youth also affects boomers' choice of travel suppliers and companions. They don't identify with people older than they are, after all, their credo was "Don't trust anybody over 30." Now well past 30 themselves, boomers still don't want to be like their parents. That means mixing the two generations in the same tour group probably won't work. Early bird specials and senior discounts hold no appeal for boomers because, according to Day, because they won't think of themselves as seniors until they are in their seventies.

She said some companies may have to reinvent their images because boomers don't want anything that smacks of being stuffy or stodgy. More youthful models should be selected because boomers relate better to younger images. The word maturity should be replaced with experience and education.

4. Boomers want to have fun. It's not surprising that adult teenagers put a premium on having a good time. Although fun, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, Day said companionship, stimulation and the cultural/social experience make travel fun for boomers. She added, "Part of the enjoyment of the experience is knowing it's unique -that's part of the rush."

Day said tour operators and destinations can increase the fun factor by encouraging boomers to bring friends with them. A group isn't a negative when it's a group of their own friends, she said.

Day also pointed out, "Fun that is too difficult to obtain isn't fun at all." This again underscores the importance of making the travel purchase quick, easy and convenient.

5. Boomers demand immediate gratification. Unlike their Depression-era parents, boomers grew up in times of plenty. Easy gratification bred a desire for still more and quicker rewards. As a result, boomers don't wait to take the trips they want. If they don't have the money, they just use plastic.

Boomers' instant-gratification lifestyle means they don't book travel as far in advance as their predecessors. But when they are ready to book, they want to do it NOW.

Finally, it's important to remember boomers invented the question, "Are we there yet?" They have little patience for long, uninterrupted stretches of road time. Tour operators should plan shorter hauls or more frequent stops or provide entertainment such as personal video screens or Internet access.

6. Boomers are not passive. They want a measure of control in designing their travel experience, and, once on the road, they want to choose their activities. "If you tell them they're going to do A, B and C, they might want to do E or F," noted editor Malott. The challenge for travel marketers is to make it clear their product offers plenty of options.

Boomers also want more interactivity in the travel experience. According to John Stachnik, president of Mayflower Tours, "They don't want to hear about panning for gold, they want to do it." Stachnik called it sightdoing vs. sightseeing.

Malott said boomers also crave the "local human touch." That means activities such as "meet the people" dinners or playing golf with locals will be highly attractive tour elements.


Check back for part two in the series on Baby Boomer travel.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Marketing 101 for Bears Training Camp


MARKETING 101 FOR BEARS TRAINING CAMP
Presented by the Kankakee County CVB, Kankakee County Chamber and 
Economic Development Alliance of Kankakee County

Upwards of 100,000 people visit our community during for 17 days during the height of summer travel season. Join us for a cup of coffee and find out new and exciting ways your business can market to these visitors, draw them to your business, and cash in.

Attend a 1 hour seminar to discover cost effective and efficient ways to promote your business to Training Camp visitors.

* Restaurants
* Hotels
* Boutiques
* Attractions
* Antiques Dealers
* Retail businesses of all kinds!

All are welcome. You need not be a chamber member to attend.

Date: Friday, June 20
Time: 10:00 am - 11:00 am
Place: 4th Floor Library Conference Room of the Executive Centre (200 East Court St., Kankakee)
To reserve your seat, please RSVP to: Info@KankakeeCountyChamber.com

Monday, June 2, 2014

Measure the success of your event...


It's that time of the year again; event season. Rights holders need to track attendance numbers over time to accurately define economic impact generated from the event. Having an accurate attendance number gives you an advantage when negotiating fees and requesting sponsorships; you have the history of how many people attend the event.

Most importantly, estimated attendance numbers help keep the crowds at large gatherings safe. Event coordinators and officials are able to plan how to manage traffic in the area, how many medical response personnel will be needed in case of an emergency, as well as how much security to hire. Crowd size is also needed for media news reports and to historically record the event.

Whereas crowd counting is not an exact science, using ticket sales or counting turnstile entries is one of the easiest ways to keep track of how many people attend. Additionally, there are grid systems that measure the maximum number of people that can fit in a defined space. The “Jacob’s Method of Crowd Counting” is one of the most widely accepted methods of using the grid system. The basis of his system is a loose crowd, one where each person is an arm's length from the body of his or her nearest neighbors, needs 10 square feet per person. A more tightly packed crowd fills 4.5 square feet per person. A truly scary mob of mosh-pit density would get about 2.5 square feet per person.
Please read more about the methods of crowd counting here.


Monday, May 19, 2014

Tradeshow Success!


If you’re attending a marketing event, the work can begin well before the event and isn’t finished when the trade show exhibits are packed away. Follow these tips for beforehand and afterwards and you can help ensure that you have a successful trade show, whether you’re a complete newbie or a veteran marketer.

Make Sure Your Display Is Being Shipped To The Correct Place
Having your trade show exhibits shipped to the right location is vital.  If any of the shipping details are incorrect, such as the zip code or city, or even which hall at the convention center, you could be stuck at the event without your trade show exhibits. Additionally, check that your company’s name or booth location is clearly labeled on the boxes so that the staff knows exactly where it should be placed for installation.
It’s also a good idea to make sure that your company’s name is clearly labeled on the inside of each box or shipping crate.  These crates can sometimes become damaged in transit and it could be a disaster if the container is damaged and no one knows where the contents belong.

Think About What You Want To Accomplish With Your Trade Show Exhibits
Make sure that you understand what you want to get out of the expo. Many businesses set vague goals — that is, if they set any at all.  If your goals are something like “capture more leads,” sit down and think about what this really means.  How many leads to you want to capture?  Do you want to get 10?  Or is 200 a more reasonable number?  Also consider the strength of the leads.  It’s not enough to capture leads without qualifying them first.  A cold lead is as good as no lead so make sure that your leads actually have a reason or a need for your company before you spend hours following up once you get back into the office.

Make Good On Your Promises
If you’ve promised to send an attendee information about your company, make sure that you actually do it once the event is over and the trade show exhibits are packed away.  If you promise to send something and don’t actually do it, many customers will assume you don’t want their business and will move on to your competitor.
Even if you didn’t promise information, you should still follow up with people you met at your trade show booth.  If someone filled out a lead card, but it didn’t seem like they were a hot lead, make sure that you call to check in every once in a while.  They were interested enough to visit your booth at the event so it’s possible that their needs could change in the future. Take care to not seem over-aggressive, however, since aggressive tactics can turn customers away.

While these tips aren’t complicated, they are extremely important if you want to maximize sales from a trade show marketing event.  Use these, but realize that they’re not the only things you should be doing.  Sit down with your staff and see if you can come up with other tasks that can help ensure your event is a success.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Welcome to our new website!


Take a break from the ordinary with miles of beautiful river, family attractions and some heartland history. Kankakee County is known for its scenic beauty, affordable accommodations and Chicago Bears RC Cola Training Camp. 

See Some of the New Items to Our Website:

  • Build My Itinerary
  • Group Travel Planning
  • Enhanced Calendar of Events
See what adventures await you in Kankakee County! Our redesigned website includes a section just for travel groups. See the sample itineraries to enhance your visit and take advantage of all of the wonderful things to see and do in Kankakee County. Visit our newly designed website or call 800-747-4837 to request your free information.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Reaping the Benefits of Vacation Packages


For travelers who like to plan ahead and manage their costs, vacation packages represent an easy way for travelers to book a flexible combination of flight, lodging, rental car and local attractions at one rate, on one website with a few clicks of the mouse.The benefits to hotels of offering vacation packages, however, often go unrecognized:
  • An average booking window that is more than double that of a standalone hotel reservation;
  • An average length of stay that is more than 120 percent longer than a standalone hotel reservation;
  • 50 percent fewer cancellations than standalone hotel bookings
  • Increased opacity to preserve rate integrity

In Jacksonville, a market that is driven largely by its submarkets, hotels were unaccustomed to utilizing packages because they assumed they were too far from the airport for their offerings to be effective.  By experimenting with the package path, one hotel ultimately grew its business by 20 percent and became one of Jacksonville’s top producers.   While packages are not the lion’s share of this hotel’s business, you can be sure they’re not interested in giving up those incremental room nights either.

It’s imperative for hotels to use market-specific demand data, like that offered by Expedia market managers, to identify and address any unfulfilled demand that could be best-served with vacation package offers.

For example, if 15 percent of shoppers in a given market are looking for four-night packages, 15 percent of any area hotel’s bookings should be for four nights.  If a hotel’s booking metrics don’t reflect market averages, the hotel can adjust their package offerings to capture that lucrative guest.  Offering discounts on a fourth night might convert three night shoppers into a four-night guest and capture the four-night shoppers along the way. 

Need help designing your package? Contact the sales staff at the Kankakee County CVB for more information.



Monday, April 7, 2014

Buses are booming; are you ready?


The number of people riding buses continues its recent upward trend, the American Bus Association said in its "Motorcoach Census 2013" report out recently. Despite the name, it actually looks at 2012 figures, and finds a 1.7 percent hike in passenger trips on buses, making it nearly 6 percent higher than three years ago. Read the full report or a chart of the basic figures

But how can you be sure your event or attraction is motorcoach friendly? In order to draw more of this business, see if you can answer these questions about your attraction or event:


ATTRACTION CRITERIA

  • Do you have motorcoach parking? 
  • Is there somewhere for the driver to rest away from the motorcoach?
    • If an on-site lounge is unavailable, do you provide complimentary meals or drinks for the drivers? 
  • Is it easy for motorcoaches to maneuver in and out of the parking facility? 
    • Will the group have to walk far? 
  • How many bus parking spaces do you have? 
    • How is this communicated? 
    • Communicated through a greeter, available online, or via telephone hotline? 
  • Can you provide directions to nearby fueling, dumping or maintenance facilities?

EVENT CRITERIA

  • Does the event have a history of drawing groups? How many? 
  • Is the event motorcoach friendly? 
  • How does the event treat bus drivers and group escorts—free admission? 
    • A dedicated driver area?
    • Prize drawings for drivers bringing the most groups? 
  • Do you have dedicated parking areas for motorcoaches? Free? 
  • Are embark/disembark points close to the event entrance? 
  • Can nearby hotels accommodate a motorcoach group? 
  • Can the event handle passengers being dropped off 55 at a time?
Keeping these things in mind can help make you more attractive to motorcoach groups. For more ideas, contact the Kankakee County CVB.


Friday, March 21, 2014

Kid's Expo this weekend!


The Kankakee County CVB attended is attending the Kid's Expo in Tinley Park this weekend, March 22 & 23. The attendance is comprised of families and groups looking for kid-friendly activities. The two-day event is filled with special demonstrations, fun games, music and unique displays to showcase different vendors. This one-of-a-kind indoor show allows vendors like the Kankakee County CVB to show all Kankakee County has to offer. 

The CVB would like to extend a special thanks to all our partners that are helping man the booth with us; The Exploration StationThe Kankakee Valley Park District, Legends Sportsplex and the Community Arts Council.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Heartland Travel Showcase, March 7-9, 2014


Kankakee County CVB will be attending Heartland Travel Showcase in Ohio this weekend. This showcase invites tour operators from North America that run tours to the Heartland region to  meet one-on-one with vendors like the CVB, to showcase their attractions. More than 100 operators from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Ontario, Canada will be on hand at Heartland Travel Showcase.

Unlike many other shows, Heartland Travel Showcase allows the Kankakee County CVB to bring experiences right to the buying floor and build relationships directly with tour operators. In addition to personal appointment times with operators, we can showcase our area to a variety of groups during the open floor times. 

Group travel is strong in the Midwest, according to Heartland Travel, 92% of operators reported more customers in 2013 over the previous year. Heartland Travel also reports an average of $33,000 is spent per each motorcoach visit to an area. This includes money spent on lodging, dining, tickets to attractions/events, fuel and retail sales.

Contact the Kankakee County CVB to get more information on group travel.




Monday, February 24, 2014

One size does not fit all!



When it comes to meetings, one size does not fit all.

Before you book your venue, consider how people will be arranged in the space. For example, 250 people can comfortably stand in 1500 square feet (a room roughly 42 ft. x 35 ft.), which is great for a reception, but classroom seating would only allow 85 in the same space and 125 for a seated dinner at round tables. 

Space and Capacity Calculator
This calculator will calculate the capacity of a banquet hall, wedding hall, or meeting room in many setup scenarios. It will also calculate space needed for a specific amount of people. You can also find out how many trade show booths will fit in a space, or how much space is needed. One thing to note, the calculator will not take into account odd shaped rooms. Also, remember to subtract the square footage of dance floors etc.

Need help calculating the size you will need? Vicki Layhew, our Sales and Marketing manager can assist you with site selection issues when you use the CVB to plan your event. Call 800-747-4837 or email her today!

Monday, February 17, 2014

New Publications

The rebounding economy has seen a resurgence in group travel. To meet the needs of this market, the Kankakee County CVB has publications tailored to consumer leisure groups and the group travel planners seeking new experiences for their travelers. 

Travel planners can create their next trip with our Group Travel Guide where you can find bus-loads of discoveries. From a B. Harley Bradley House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, French Heritage Museum, Barn Quilt tour, mystery dinner theater, antique shops to a 4,000-acre State Park. Groups can combine stops at different attractions to customize their personal itineraries.

Groups and consumer leisure travelers have asked for unique history, so the Historic Churches of the Kankakee Area was created. Visit our historic churches on this self-guided walk-and-drive tour. Six historic churches surround the courthouse in downtown Kankakee and the others are a short drive away. The nearby Riverview Historic District includes Frank Lloyd Wright's early Prairie Style architecture.

The Barn Quilts of Kankakee County is now 50 barns strong! Experience this country-wide phenomenon! Colorful quilt patterns displayed on barns throughout the county and each barn's pattern reflects on the life of families that have lived there. This award winning guide recently received two honors from the Illinois Governor's Conference on Travel and Tourism.

Our seasoned sales and services team are available to assist you. You may order any of the above guides here or contact a sales associate for more details.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Baby Boomers and Group Travel, Part 2


As promised, here is the second part of our article on how Baby Boomers are affecting group travel.

8. Boomers like creature comforts. This fact, according to Malott, actually keeps boomers from booking the exotic locales they profess to like. Day puts a slightly different spin on the issue. "A tent is OK," she said, "but it better have a great view and great food. Even if you're in the wilderness, luxury is being served a delicious meal without having to lift a finger." 


Accommodations should "reflect the experience of a place without being down and dirty," she said. Boomers don't want a generic-style hotel, but they demand the amenities they are accustomed to. 

9. Boomers are time deprived. To get relief from their stressful schedules, boomers vacation at spas where they can do absolutely nothing but be pampered. Or they may go to the opposite extreme, choosing adventures that are physically or mentally challenging - or both. 

"Group travel is turnkey travel," noted the Senior Network's Day, so the boomers' time deprivation can be a boon for tour operators. Letting somebody else deal with all the details is very appealing, she said, but the hang-up for boomers is trust. They wonder whether they can rely on somebody else to plan their kind of trip. 

When booking travel, boomers also need time-saving devices. They like 800 numbers, the Internet, videos and virtual reality because they offer convenience and interactivity. Their predilection for technology can reduce travel suppliers' costs for agents' commissions and printing and mailing brochures. However, it also means call centers must be staffed to meet whenever boomers call.

Internet use is so common among Mature Traveler readers, editor Malott automatically lists website addresses along with phone numbers. Day pointed out that boomers use the Internet more for information gathering than booking. "It's human nature to want to feel connected to what you're about to sign up for," she said. However, she added, boomers also like the freedom of not involving other people when they are exploring a subject. Their attitude is, "When I've decided, I'll initiate the next move."

10. Boomers will pay for luxury, expertise and convenience. ATM fees, nannies and bottled water prove boomers are willing to pay for what they want. Mancini noted, "Boomers are willing to do things for themselves, if it's a hobby or if they think it won't require too much effort, but they really like to hire others to do it for them because it implies status." 

Day added, "When boomers travel, they want to do it right. They still look for a bargain, but a bargain to them means getting a good price on something of great value."

Organized group travel becomes valuable to boomers when it's a physically or mentally challenging adventure, but they don't have the skill level to do it themselves. Or when safety and cost make traveling with a group more practical. "You get to an impasse where you need the experts to facilitate the experience," noted Day.

To attract boomers, tour operators must emphasize their expertise. They must add value boomers can't get on their own. Guides must become like personal trainers and demonstrate the skill and knowledge boomers will respect and pay for. 

11. Boomers are skeptical of institutions and individuals. With Viet Nam and Watergate as touchstones, who can blame this generation for lacking trust? As a function of their distrust, boomers are not joiners. They are less involved with alumni groups, civic organizations and museum societies than their predecessors, so these traditional sources of group business may be less viable in the future. 

Because they are skeptical, boomers actively research their travel options, so suppliers must expect a lot of information gathering before the buy decision. Public relations efforts that impart third-party or expert endorsement help break through boomers' skepticism. NTA focus groups in 1997 and 1998 said ads in local newspapers and word of mouth were the best sources of information and persuasion for travel products. 

In marketing materials, patting oneself on the back too vigorously is sure to raise boomers' suspicions and hackles. Companies hoping to build long-term relationships must not promise more than they can deliver because failure to perform undermines boomers' trust.

12. Boomers like to associate with people like themselves. As noted earlier, boomers do not identify with people older than themselves. According to Day, one of the questions uppermost in their minds when they purchase travel is, "Who is going to be on this trip? Is it going to be people like me or a bunch of stodgy, gray-haired people?"

Day said boomers look for outfitters or operators who "share my values,"so they are very selective about who they'll use. She added, "They want an interactive feeling with the outfitter . . . where there's equality between boomers and the leader."

The industry can respond to these needs by not mixing age groups in the same tour and using younger images and words in their marketing materials. They should stress the flexibility and participative nature of the experience as well as hype the expertise of their staff and guides. Environmental and social awareness will strike a responsive note in some boomers, so they should be highlighted. 

13. Boomers are not homogenous. While boomers identify themselves as boomers, they are not a single group. In terms of life stages, boomers may be the least homogenous generation to date. There are childless-by-choice boomers, others with new babies, others with grandchildren and some with both. Fifty year olds who are retiring and others starting new careers or returning to college. Empty nesters downsizing their lives, parents who can't get their Gen Xers out of the house and others raising their grandchildren. These variations affect spending habits, the amount of time available for vacations and with whom boomers travel. 

There is also a dichotomy between older and younger boomers. For those born between 1946 and 1955, Viet Nam was the defining event of their lives. For those who came later, it was Watergate. When older boomers finished college, jobs were plentiful and interest rates low. Younger boomers faced recession and 21% interest. The older group, the first to benefit from women's movement, tends to be more career-oriented. The younger ones experienced the down side of women's lib - the higher divorce rate. They also felt they never got as much attention as their older siblings, so they are more family-oriented. According to Mancini, older boomers, including himself, "thought our parents stuff was corny and stupid." Younger boomers, who watched Donna Reed and Ozzie and Harriet reruns on TV, he said, "unleashed this whole wave of nostalgia." All these factors too impact travel behavior.

If they keep these 13 truths about boomers in mind, marketers will be more successful in pursuing this large, but complex market segment.

For more information on group travel, contact the Kankakee County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Baby Boomers and Group Travel, Part 1


The Kankakee County CVB is aware of how the 78 million baby boomers are an enormous bulge in the U.S. population. Born between 1946 and 1964, they changed American business at each stage of their development. Diaper services, Barbie dolls, Rolling Stone magazine, relaxed-fit jeans and SUVs - all were created in response to boomers' needs. Now it's the travel industry's turn to be affected.


Baby boomers today are between 35 and 53 years of age. They are in their peak earning years, and the oldest of them have reached the prime age for travel. Boomers, however, are significantly different travel consumers than their parents, and experts expect them to maintain those differences as they age. Travel industry organizations that fail to identify and heed the boomers' unique qualities could soon find themselves in serious trouble.

Group travel seems especially vulnerable. Although Robert Whitley, president of the U. S. Tour Operators Association, said, "The escorted tour market is alive and well," National Tour Association research among boomers indicated potential problems. According to the NTA, "The overwhelming perception of tour packages by NTA's focus group participants was negative."

To help marketers more effectively target boomers today and in the future, Travel Marketing Decisions interviewed a series of experts to gather insight into this enormous and potentially lucrative segment. Below are 13 truths about baby boomers and their marketing implications for the industry.

1. Boomers consider travel a necessity, not a luxury. This is good news for the industry on two counts. First, the sheer number of boomers traveling will cause business to grow. Second, since travel is a necessity, boomers engage in it no matter how scarce their time or money. Their travel behavior, therefore, is less dependent on life stage or the economy.

2. Boomers have traveled more than their predecessors. While their parents first visited Europe when they retired, boomers criss-crossed the Continent as students. Adele Malott, editor of The Mature Traveler newsletter, noted, "When we began we had to educate our readers because they hadn't traveled much. Now we've eliminated much of the primer stuff."

As experienced travelers, boomers seek out more exotic destinations or more in-depth ways of experiencing familiar places. "You're not likely to see them on bus tours of the U.S. because they already did that on their bikes or with backpacks," said Courtney Day, senior vice of the Senior Network, a New Jersey research and marketing firm that specializes in the older consumer.

Been-there-done-that is one reason adventure travel appeals to them, Day said. She defined adventure travel as either physically-challenging outdoor activity or an off-the-beaten-path destination. Because boomers are interested in bettering themselves, intellectually stimulating travel also holds appeal.

3. Boomers see themselves as forever young. "Adult teenagers" is the way Phil Goodman, co-author of the Boomer Marketing Revolution, described boomers. A consultant to the NTA on its boomer market assessment plan, Goodman noted, "Boomers will always try to act much younger than their chronological age." As a result, boomers still want to fulfill the dreams they had at 25 - even if their bodies aren't always willing or able.

This cult of youth also affects boomers' choice of travel suppliers and companions. They don't identify with people older than they are, after all, their credo was "Don't trust anybody over 30." Now well past 30 themselves, boomers still don't want to be like their parents. That means mixing the two generations in the same tour group probably won't work. Early bird specials and senior discounts hold no appeal for boomers because, according to Day, because they won't think of themselves as seniors until they are in their seventies.

She said some companies may have to reinvent their images because boomers don't want anything that smacks of being stuffy or stodgy. More youthful models should be selected because boomers relate better to younger images. The word maturity should be replaced with experience and education.

4. Boomers want to have fun. It's not surprising that adult teenagers put a premium on having a good time. Although fun, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, Day said companionship, stimulation and the cultural/social experience make travel fun for boomers. She added, "Part of the enjoyment of the experience is knowing it's unique -that's part of the rush."

Day said tour operators and destinations can increase the fun factor by encouraging boomers to bring friends with them. A group isn't a negative when it's a group of their own friends, she said.

Day also pointed out, "Fun that is too difficult to obtain isn't fun at all." This again underscores the importance of making the travel purchase quick, easy and convenient.

Finally, boomers desire to have fun and make money is driving some career changers into the travel industry. According to Marc Mancini, president of Marc Mancini Seminars and Consulting, these entrepreneurs are carving out niches that will have a major impact on the business.

5. Boomers demand immediate gratification. Unlike their Depression-era parents, boomers grew up in times of plenty. Easy gratification bred a desire for still more and quicker rewards. As a result, boomers don't wait to take the trips they want. If they don't have the money, they just use plastic.

These free-spending ways, however, could spell trouble for the travel industry, if boomers must work longer because they didn't save for retirement. The hot stock market of recent years may have changed the outlook for many, but Mancini thinks a major market correction could keep boomers from enjoying their paper profits.

Boomers' instant-gratification lifestyle means they don't book travel as far in advance as their predecessors. But when they are ready to book, they want to do it NOW.

Finally, it's important to remember boomers invented the question, "Are we there yet?" They have little patience for long, uninterrupted stretches of road time. Tour operators should plan shorter hauls or more frequent stops or provide entertainment such as personal video screens or Internet access.

6. Boomers are not passive. They want a measure of control in designing their travel experience, and, once on the road, they want to choose their activities. "If you tell them they're going to do A, B and C, they might want to do E or F," noted editor Malott. The challenge for travel marketers is to make it clear their product offers plenty of options.

Boomers also want more interactivity in the travel experience. According to John Stachnik, president of Mayflower Tours, "They don't want to hear about panning for gold, they want to do it." Stachnik called it sightdoing vs. sightseeing.

Malott said boomers also crave the "local human touch." That means activities such as "meet the people" dinners or playing golf with locals will be highly attractive tour elements.

7. Boomers think they are special. Always been a force to be reckoned with, they are very demanding consumers. "Whether they go budget or luxury, boomers tend to want the best," said Day.

Boomers like things that reinforce their feelings of specialness, so they are attracted to credit cards that offer preferred theater seats or tours that give them after-hours access to a museum. They also want products designed to fit their individual needs, so customization, or the illusion of it, is important.

What boomers definitely do not want is herding. To many boomers, group travel has the faint aroma of a cattle drive. This has prompted some operators to drop tours from their names. Others have pared down group size, either by forming smaller groups or breaking larger groups into subsets which engage in different activities simultaneously.

Day suggested tour operators offer products that provide group transportation and accommodations, but impose a less rigid structure on travelers' daily movements. "I can see a much more à la carte approach that allows more independence," she said. The experts also recommended promotional materials down play the group aspect of tours and emphasize the benefits to individuals.


Please look for the second part in this series or contact the Kankakee County CVB for more info. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Get Creative


Smart hoteliers pay attention to what’s happening outside of their own markets and comp sets to identify emerging travel trends and opportunities. Our last article focused on trends for 2014 and now let's look at packages. 


Packages don't have to offer a discount to be attractive. Consider some of the trends on the rise and incorporate them into your packaging. For example, making a creative hands-on package  to include a cooking or art class. Offer a unique opportunity with a behind-the-scenes tour of a factory or business. You could also work with an event to offer a VIP experience. None of these have to provide a discount, just an experience travelers want to try.

In Jacksonville, a market that is driven largely by its submarkets, hotels were unaccustomed to utilizing packages because they assumed they were too far from the airport for their offerings to be effective. By experimenting with the package path, one hotel ultimately grew its business by 20 percent and became one of Jacksonville’s top producers. While packages are not the lion’s share of this hotel’s business, you can be sure they’re not interested in giving up those incremental room nights either.


It’s imperative for hotels to use market-specific demand data in addition to trends when creating packages. For example, if 15 percent of shoppers in a given market are looking for four-night packages, 15 percent of any area hotel’s bookings should be for four nights. If a hotel’s booking metrics don’t reflect market averages, the hotel can adjust their package offerings to capture that lucrative guest. Offering discounts on a fourth night might convert three night shoppers into a four-night guest and capture the four-night shoppers along the way.


Major vacation markets are naturals for package offerings, but with a little creativity and some solid trend data from experienced market managers, hotels in markets big and small will find that when it comes to packages, there’s something for everyone. Please contact the Kankakee County CVB sales department for package ideas and to post your packages online.