Let’s face it: conferences and meetings can be draining and often…boring. Attendees get herded from session to session and meal to meal, cramming a barrage of information into a very brief time. This is why the cocktail receptions are usually the most popular portion of the event.

We get that. So our sessions snap attendees out of autopilot with teaching moments so enjoyable, they don’t even realize how much they’re learning.

Here’s a selection of workshops we’ve presented at travel, tourism, and hospitality conferences and meetings around the world. Want a custom topic? Give us a shout with your needs.

Idea: You can also string together a handful of these workshops to create a half-day or full-day custom boot camp for your group. See an example of this here.

  • Marketing

    Social Influencers: Holy Grail or Fool’s Gold? The term “social influencers” is a buzzword that sparks equal amounts of hope and skepticism among marketers. Just because some person (or some dog? Or pig? Or fox?) has more than a million followers on Instagram, does that mean a post on their account can truly influence their audience into being interested in you? And if so…how much is that worth in terms of fees allocated in your marketing budget? Social influencers are often self-proclaimed and not always legit, so it’s essential to evaluate each opportunity, set parameters, establish goals, and (most important) take risks. But first…you must decide if working with social influencers is the right marketing match for your brand. In this session, you’ll get all the facts necessary to cultivate your own informed point of view, and you’ll come away with clear evaluation tools to approach the process with more confidence.

    #HashtagResponsibly…#Is #There #a #Right #Way #to #Hashtag? That good ol’ pound sign has grown up, and now we all reach for it every time we do a social media post. On Tuesday, we’re all about #traveltuesday. On Thursday, we’re all about #tbt. If we’re foodies, we obsess about #foodporn. If we’re trying to lose weight, we love #facetofacefriday and #motivationmonday. For our wildest travel dreams, we drool over #bucketlist. But really… do hashtags work? Are they just for fun? Can they be used strategically to grow your business? Is there an optimal number of hashtags for a successful post? #youbetyourhashtaghoney. This session will open your eyes to the power of hashtags, how to use them correctly (did you know there are several different types and categories of hashtags, all used for different purposes?), why they’re important, and how you can leverage them for fun AND business.

    Which Came First: The Chicken, The Egg, or the Instagram Share?People LOVE sharing photos and videos of cool culinary experiences on social media…so how do you ensure it’s YOUR stuff they’re sharing? Product development in culinary tourism has changed dramatically in the social economy. Should you be developing your products and experiences with an eye toward “chasing the share?” And if so, how far should you go? It’s so easy to get caught up in the frenzy of creating “Instagrammable Moments” for guests and then lose sight of creating products that people actually want to buy. This session will share practical advice at how to strike the best balance for your business…finding the sweet spot between product development and social media worthiness. We’ll look at hot trends in culinary and experiential tourism, evergreen trends that show no sign of fading, and how to stack the decks on social media love for your offerings.

    Spinning Content Effectively Across Different Social PlatformsCan you take the same piece of content – say, a product launch announcement – and share it the same way, with the same photos/videos, onto all your various social platforms? Sure you can…but not if you want to get the most out of social media. If you do your own marketing, you may never think about adapting your writing style for all the different marketing channels you use: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and more. And yet, in today’s over-cluttered world, you can’t use the same style for all channels or you’re just wasting money and time. Each one of those social channels has a completely different vibe, purpose, and type of audience…and communication through each is transacted differently. This workshop gives smart tips and tricks anyone can use, quickly and easily, to make every single word count and – most importantly – be more persuasive on social media.

    How to Spend Your Precious Marketing BudgetWithout an unlimited budget, you are forced to make tough choices every day, every year. And with the escalating array of marketing options available – especially in the digital age – how do you decide where the money goes? This session explains why print is NOT dead, why all marketing programs should have a training budget, and how to shed bad spending habits that sabotage your budget year after year. We’ll look at how to evaluate opportunities – from partnerships to digital spending to website upgrades, advertising, social media, events, and more.

    Time Management for MarketersIt’s the silent killer of any annual marketing program…you do a financial budget that looks great on paper, but do you have enough time to execute all of it well? This session will force you to face reality about what results you can expect from a box-checking, spreadsheet approach to marketing. We’ll break down the major marketing options by required time intensity to reveal what’s worth a deep dive, what’s ok with a light touch, and what quicksand time-sucks you should avoid. Heads up…you’ll leave this session with an entirely new perspective on marketing, and don’t be surprised if you recast your whole strategy as a result.

    Content: It’s Not Just Important…It’s EVERYTHINGSomewhere in marketing evolution, “content” became a buzzword, and “developing content” became a to-do list item. It’s something churned out to feed the marketing channel beasts…emails, social media, newsletters, digital ads, blah blah blah. Stop the churning, folks. What you say and how you say it are the MOST IMPORTANT CHOICES you will make in marketing. So if you’re slapping together email newsletters and ad content the day they’re due, you’re wasting time and money. In this session, we’ll reveal strategic ways to completely redesign your content approach and the importance it holds in your heart, based on one simple rule: what do your audiences want to hear in each of your different marketing channels?

    Your Website is Your Garden: Get a Green Thumb, ProntoIt’s the most vital tool in your marketing toolbox, and yet most businesses (yes, most) plant their website online without a sensible ongoing plan to feed and water it. The marketing budget and time choices you make will impact the health of your website and how attractive it is to visitors. And if you think this is just about doing PPC and SEO, get ready to have your digital world rocked.

    Managing the Website Development ProcessIf you’re not building your own site, that means you’re at the mercy of an outside “expert.” What should you look for in proposals? What are the correct steps and timeline to launch? What parts should YOU handle internally, and what should remain in outside hands? How much of your own time will be required? How much should it cost? And perhaps most importantly…how do you manage the work process when you don’t quite understand the work involved? This session will give you all the secrets you need to tackle this critical task wisely.

    Social Media Captions: Make ‘Em CountThere’s an art to captioning photos that compel people to like, comment, and share your news. And if you haven’t mastered it, you’re wasting a ton of time on your social media strategy…because doing daily posts that no one cares about yields an ROI of zero. This session instructs on how to better choose and caption your photos, how to be JUST provocative enough without going too far, and how to promote boring things in an exciting way. Oh…and hashtags? You don’t need a license to use a hashtag, so the #temptation to be enthusiastically #reckless is #wickedstrong. Please…learn how to hashtag responsibly.

    Taming Cyberspace: Which Online “Stuff” Really Matters?Cyberspace is vast, and trying to figure out how to best use it to market your business is a daunting, ever-changing task. Website upgrades, search engine optimization, pay-per-click, email campaigns, landing pages, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, digital advertising, blogging…SO many choices. In this session, folks will learn how each of the various key online marketing opportunities can impact a business, and more importantly, how to judge which choices are the right ones for you and how much time/money you should spend pursuing them.

    Digital Analytics 101You’ve embedded your universal tracking code on all your web pages, including event tracking and custom campaign links in order to evaluate bounce rate, entrance pages, and ecommerce conversation rate, right? RIGHT!?! If that sentence meant very little to you, you’re not alone. With limitless possibilities of what can be tracked when, how do you know what’s important and what’s just jargon made up by “techies” selling you another service you won’t need in two months? This session gives an introduction – in plain English – to web analytics and an overview of social analytics…why use them, how to use them and how they will help you make smarter business decisions.

    Five Tips for Becoming a Better Online MerchantRemember the good old days of retailing when a brightly colored dress in the front window was enough to bring potential customers into your storefront and keep them there? Well, times have changed…or have they? In this session we’ll talk about how you can blend those tried and true offline selling techniques with modern tactics for engaging prospects online to create a powerful ecommerce engine that tells your brand story and drives incremental revenue. Audience stories are welcome!

    Public Relations: Five Critical Things You Must Know to Protect Your BusinessThere was a time when people thought PR was “fluff.” Those days are over. The age of social media has transformed PR into the most powerful marketing tool you can wield. Now, every guest interaction – good or bad – can evolve into something on the national news. Want to learn how to take control of the messaging and harness all that power to benefit your brand? This session teaches the five critical things you should be doing to protect your business in this media-hungry world. Hint: one of them involves taking a nap. BYOBlankie if you want to practice during this session.

    Marketing Has No BoundariesYour image is your most precious asset, and you funnel big resources into creating gorgeous marketing materials to foster it. But in this crazy age of insta-sharing, the rules of the marketing game have changed. Now every consumer touch point – service, design, operations, programming, and more – has marketing potential, and how you embrace this fact determines your brand’s fate: are you creating an exponential sales force, or setting yourself up for a #hugefail? This session inspires people to be inspired to view their operation with a fresh marketing lens…and learn how to get an organization to adopt the philosophy that marketing has no boundaries.

    Website Health Check-upSo, you’re not a techie, but you need to understand what’s going on with your website. How do you determine if your website is working for you? What things should you look for to know how easy it is for people to find you online? In this session, we dive into the key steps for determining how well your website is performing out there in cyberspace. Simple steps and free tools reveal improvements that can easily be made to your site.

    The Anatomy of an Email CampaignIt’s a huge waste of time and money to blast out emails that no one reads. So…what’s the best time to send an email campaign? How do you write a seductive subject line? How do you know if an email did well once it was sent, and how can you build on the success? In this session we’ll look at strategy behind email marketing. We’ll review best practices for designing, sending and measuring emails and you’ll leave with practical tips for making yours open-worthy.

    Branding: Don’t Just Exist…Really LIVE.There is a reason why branding is often referred to in medical terms…as in… revive a brand, breathe life into a brand, this brand is on its last legs, a brand’s DNA, give that brand a shot in the arm. Branding is like breathing. If you’re alive, you’re doing it…even when you’re not thinking about it. This is scary because that makes it easy for you to run your brand on autopilot. Why should you care about that? Because brands that run on autopilot aren’t getting the most out of life, and there is a direct correlation between the strength of your brand and the strength of your bank balance. This session instructs on some simple yet powerful changes you can make – to your operations, your marketing, your customer service, and more – that will have a huge impact on your brand…and your bottom line.

    Creative Marketing: Think More, Spend LessYou can find marketing opportunities within every action you take in your business. Marketing – when done right – isn’t a checklist of tasks you should be doing this week or this year…it’s a permanent mindset, and a way of approaching your ENTIRE business. Phrasing, positioning, choices, looking at “usual” things in an unusual way…these will all help stretch your marketing dollars, and make your overall business efforts more meaningful. In this session, we’ll look at examples of businesses from around the world who’ve mastered this profitable mindset, and you’ll learn how to adopt such a lens for your own business in a way that works best for you.

    Do-It-Yourself PR: The Stuff You Need to KnowSo you don’t have a PR agency…maybe not even an experienced marketing person in-house. And yet, you want positive media attention for your hotel, restaurant, attraction, retail store, tour, or other hospitality-related business. Without an expert PR professional at your disposal…how can you stack the decks in your favor to get journalists interested in your story? This session teaches the six factors that make a story newsworthy, and the four key things you should do to make journalists love you. Spoiler alert: it’s ok to get crafty.

    Recover Forgotten Marketing Techniques and Regain Your Brand MojoSnapchat! Facebook Live! Virtual Reality!! The possibilities are endless… and that’s sometimes the problem. We all get excited about the shiny new marketing toy of the month and it’s easy to get distracted by such glitz and glam. But what about the solid foundation upon which all the new-fangled marketing tricks rest? In this session, you’ll rediscover practical ways to fall back in love with some of your forgotten marketing techniques and explore ways to maximize lost opportunities while strengthening your core marketing strategy.

  • Communications & Leadership

    The Art of Persuasive Writing: Make Every Word CountYou practice your golf swing…but do you practice your writing technique? Persuasive writing is more than just slapping some words down on paper…it’s about selecting the precise phrasing needed to paint an instant visual picture. This means understanding how to adapt your style to achieve the objective at hand. Email blasts, website copy, letters to customers, sales brochures, memos to colleagues, proposals…all require different positioning and word choice to be successful. In this workshop, you will learn useful tips for adopting precisely the right words and tone to influence your desired audience…and move them to action.

    Be a Better LeaderBeing a leader is more than just telling people what to do. Successful leaders inspire others, earn respect, delegate responsibly, and manage conflict without drama. Developing your leadership skills will make your relationships – with colleagues, supervisors, and subordinates – more productive and effective. Heck, it might even help you get your kids to do their chores without whining. (OK, no promises on that one). This session will help you discover your own “conflict personality,” reveal easy-to-break habits that are causing you grief, and provide a new lens to use when managing relationships. Attendees will learn tips and strategies to put into practice immediately that gain more respect and better motivate those around them.

    Diffusing Conflict GracefullyConflicts are pesky tacks thrown onto the road of relationships. We face the potential for conflict every day…with coworkers, clients, supervisors, friends, spouses, and strangers. The question is: do we blindly run over the tack and get a flat tire…or do we learn swerving techniques that eliminate their negative impact? In this session, attendees will learn about different styles for addressing conflict, and the consequences each leaves in its wake. A handful of practical tips for recognizing different conflict styles in others (and oneself) will be shared, and simple techniques for resolving conflicts gracefully will be taught.

    Delivering Memorable Presentations – How to Not Be BoringYou may be presenting to a single person, a small handful of vested individuals, or an entire group of strangers. You may have five minutes…you may have an hour. But whatever time you’ve got, you’d better not squander it. How can you communicate your key messages in the time allotted, while at the same time being charming, influential, and memorable? This session will teach you some practical, usable skills for seeing your presentation through your audience’s eyes, and shaping the content to have precisely the desired effect.

    Crisis Communications: What to Do When Disaster Strikes Your BusinessAccidents, hurricanes, crime, fire, illness…when crisis hits your business, your response greatly impacts how smoothly you come through it. This session will cover the strategies you should “flip on” the moment a crisis happens. And when guarding disappearing revenue, emotion influences choices…and not always in ways that make us proud in hindsight. This session will better equip you to gracefully protect your revenue, downplay drama without frivolity, and spot unexpected positive opportunities within the tangle of negativity. The first 72 hours of communication following a major crisis are the most vital. Be ready to spend them wisely.

  • Guest Service

    From Customers to Evangelists: The Magic of Surprise in Guest ServiceFace it…the concept of “surprise and delight” in hospitality has lost some shine. It’s become jargon, lip-service, and an obligatory check-box on the guest relations to-do list. We all know it’s important, and we know it works when done correctly. But what does it really take to surprise guests these days? And moreover…how do you do it without losing control of your budget or creating unsustainable expectations? There’s an art to harnessing the element of surprise to turn customers into evangelists, and the formula can’t be found on any spreadsheet or instruction manual. It requires passion, commitment, and ever-changing creativity. And trying to “standardize” your guest surprises to streamline delivery only sabotages the result. Want to rekindle your inspiration and infuse your thinking with fresh ideas? This session will surprise you.

    Guest Relations: Making Relationships, Not TransactionsEvery single touch point you have with guests is an opportunity to make them love you, remember you, and want to share your story…and not harnessing that power is quietly sabotaging your business growth. You need to put your guests to work for you, transforming them into ambassadors that help spread the word to other potential guests. Most tourism businesses focus on doing this while the guest is onsite…but it’s the pre- and post-visit interactions that really make the magic happen. This session will highlight simple but powerful opportunities to turn your guests into a fiercely loyal sales force.

  • Tourism Product & Innovation

    Product Development with a Purpose: Setting Your Business ApartCreate new tourism products and experiences that people actually want to buy…but do it with an eye toward making your business stand out. In this session, you’ll learn what experiences are trending in tourism, how to craft new concepts from thought to launch, how to merchandise and market your offerings, and how to choose the products and experiences that make the most sense (and bring the greatest return) for your business.

    Creating a Shoulder Season: It Takes a Village (and Time)Everyone loves the thought of extending their season, but what’s the good of staying open if no one is coming to town? It’s like the chicken or the egg scenario…you feel like you can’t pursue it unless you have the guest base to support it, but unless you give them reasons to come, you’ll never develop that guest base. In this session, we’ll discuss a variety of ways to gradually cultivate a shoulder season…creating new products and services that offer compelling “reasons to come NOW” while choosing your financial investment wisely.