Thursday, April 22, 2010

Travel South Showcase by John Dersham

Travel South Showcase

Last week I attended the Travel South Showcase in Birmingham. This convention gives us the opportunity to sell group tour operators our destination. Travel South is an organization that includes representatives in the tourism industry from twelve southern states. The annual showcase, which can take place in any of the twelve member states, is an intense two days of scheduled meetings with tour providers. The providers that come to this convention may be different each year. The companies present each year are the companies interested in booking tours to southern destinations.
Each year people like myself who are in the tourism industry sign up to attend this convention. The work begins a couple months in advance when each attendee begins booking their appointments for the upcoming convention. Each appointment is an opportunity to convince a tour provider to use our destination, as a trip. The tour providers come from all over the world and they number into the hundreds. They have one thing in common this year; they are at this convention because they want to plan some southern tours.
I booked as many appointments as I could get into the two day schedule. I came prepared with tour plans, brochures, maps and a cover letter. I had nine minutes available per individual meeting. In these nine minutes I got the chance to sell the tour planner on using DeKalb County as one of their upcoming destinations. This year I had 40 meetings. The tour providers I met with came from all over the country and the world. Some of the meetings I had were with tour providers from Arizona, Illinois, Michigan, North Carolina, Mississippi, Kentucky, Ohio, Iowa, Missouri and three different ones from the UK. We are beginning to receive more interest in our area from international markets.
In the last couple years DeKalb County has had five tours. Each tour spends an estimated $28,000 dollars in DeKalb County. The groups usually come by bus and have between 35 and 45 people on the tour. We strive to get them to spend at least one night in one of our lodging facilities. We help with their planning, where to go and what to do. We often ride on the bus with them and serve as an on bus guide and also give the history and key footnotes about our area.
Each tour we line up adds important dollars of revenue to our local economy. Each tour also increases our visibility and promotes valuable word of mouth advertising. This is why we try to provide the very best customer service to these companies and to the guests on board the buses. We want them to go home and tell their friends and family that DeKalb County Alabama was one of the prettiest and friendliest places they have ever visited.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

True Adventure Sports by John Dersham

True Adventure Sports

Ah, it is finally spring in beautiful, wonderful DeKalb County. It is time to get out after having to hibernate most of the winter and enjoy all the wonderful outdoor venues we have in our county.
One of our outdoor venues may be one you have overlooked, or have never participated. True Adventure Sports is a local guide service and outfitter. They specialize in guided trips which include; rappelling, rock climbing, flat-water and whitewater kayaking or canoeing, backpacking, extreme night hiking, wild cave tours, mountain biking, camping, hiking and zip lines. True Adventure Sports can provide food, lodging and transportation for groups and they provide all necessary gear for their guided trips. TAS offers classes in rappelling, rock climbing and knot tying. If you want to go it on your own but do not have the equipment, True Adventure Sports offers rental equipment for canoeing, and kayaking. They offer rental tents, backpacks, sleeping bags, headlamps, shoes, trailers, jet skis and mopeds. Note: minimal rental times vary by product.
A few days ago I spoke with owner, founder and entrepenuer Israel Partridge about his ever growing business. He reported to me a number of projects in the works and some others scheduled to begin in the near future.
“We have added a permanent 250’ Zip Line just off Little River Canyon that is now in operation, and are adding five more segments to that to make it a canopy tour. We offer it day or night, with it being lit by tiki torches by night making it a tiki tour.
We also have two 80’ swinging bridges under construction connecting the zip line tour.
We have added a 100’ sky swing at the same much like a sky coaster location off the canyon.”
“We are under construction with a new building featuring a full climbing gym, indoor rappelling towers, confined space rescue chambers, retail store, and bunk rooms. In addition we have plans for a coffee bar in the gazebo connected to the outside of the building.”
“By next summer we are adding an Olympic size swimming pool for classes and swim membership.”
Israel stated the building project is under way, but will most likely not be finished until the end of the summer. You can see some earlier pictures of the construction at the website listed below.
True Adventure Sports is located at 13102 AL Hwy. 176 in the Dogtown, Lickskillet area near Little River Canyon National Preserve. For more information about True Adventure Sports and a list of their upcoming events call True Adventure Sports at 256-997-9577 or check out their website at