Dynamic Destinations is a new multistate tourism group that began as a support group for tourism workers laid off during the pandemic.
“We started as a group back in March of last year, right after we were all sent home from work,” said Frances Manzitto, Director of Tourism & Sales for Visit Clarksville Tennessee. “We realized that we needed a way to connect with people outside of our homes because we’re all such social people, so we started a ZOOM call.”
The daily ZOOM calls were a fun mix of business and socialization that bonded the group together.
“You just never knew where the conversation was going to go but, after about nine months, we started talking seriously about what we do next,” said Manzitto. “We’ve always talked about our tourism family, but this little group really became a family to us.”
The group also includes Rich Gilbert, Maryland Office of Tourism; Linda Jeffries, Visit Beaufort (South Carolina); Wendy Dobrzynski, Circle Wisconsin; Heather Ergan, Grapevine (Texas) Convention & Visitors Bureau; and Todd Stallbaumer, Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department.
“At the end of last year, we started talking about how we as a group start marketing together,” said Manzitto.
After a successful virtual sales call in March, they were looking for another way to collaborate. In April, members of the group attended the United Motorcoach Association EXPO in Orlando, Florida, where they debuted a Dynamic Destinations talk to UMA members about destination options for their groups.
The group shared their story with Ryan Kelly, of Terrapin Blue, who produced a series of videos highlighting the stories of operators and vendors who came to EXPO.
“We’re not competitors. We have found ways that are interesting that we can partner together, even with some itineraries,” Manzitto said during the presentation. “We’re kind of a one-stop shop for a good part of the United States. An operator can meet with the group of us, and walk away with a half-dozen different itineraries.”
Normally the group doesn’t come to EXPO, but this year’s UMA gathering provided the first opportunity to get on the road again and see people face to face. Operators benefited from the group’s collective 150 years’ worth of travel experience, she added.
Stallbaumer, Travel Development Manager with Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department, said he was impressed with the response to Dynamic Destinations at EXPO.
“The great thing is, we’re actually seeing a lot of positive energy, and people are excited about destinations opening up,” Stallbaumer said.