Thursday, June 30, 2016

International Travel Writers by John Dersham

I really had fun last weekend. We had the honor of having a bus full of travel writers spend a weekend here in DeKalb. They work in different countries for publications that will publish articles they write about us. Our visitors were from Brittan, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Austria and China. Let me tell just how important it is to have travel writers here. If we run an ad in a major magazine it costs us up to $6,000 for a small ad when the consumer sees paid travel advertising they assume the destination will be bragging about themselves…thus lessening the total impact. When a travel writer writes an article about our destination the consumer believes they are getting accurate and helpful information. In addition, when they write a story about us and it is in a popular travel magazine, it is free publicity. In other words, it costs us nothing to get better advertising than we could pay for. This is why when travel writers come to town we want to make sure we give them the best hospitality and show them our beauty, our customer service and all the great things there are to see and do in DeKalb, including eating and shopping. Our visitors spent Saturday and Sunday touring our area. DeKalb Tourism and DeSoto State Park serviced as the local hosts and I served as tour guide. This was an event hosted by North Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association and the trip included five days in North Alabama. Our guests stayed at DeSoto State Park and on Saturday evening we had a dinner that included a welcome to the park by Ken Thomas and a DeKalb Tourism talk by me. We had a booth set up so they could get our travel guides and information. We toured Desoto S.P. and Little River Canyon, which included rappelling with True Adventure Sports and Israel Partridge as the host. We ended up at Wildflower CafĂ© in Mentone for great food and musical entertainment specifically welcoming our visitors. The really good news is what they think of us. Wow, they love our area, our people, our food and they were totally awe struck by our scenic beauty and they were totally amazed we had a 650’ canyon in Alabama. Their upcoming articles will be another step in growth for us in the International market. The magazines they write for will be viewed in their countries and help consumers pick us as one of their destinations when coming to the southeast U.S. Fortunately for me, most international visitors speak English and communicate well in the U.S. When we travel abroad most of us are dependent on them knowing English since not many of us are bi or tri lingual.