In Dublin, Ohio, the local CVB uses free step-on guides and exclusive experiences as incentives for groups that stay in one of the local hotels during a visit to the greater Columbus area.
“If a motorcoach group stays in one of Dublin’s hotels, we offer a complimentary step-on tour of the area,” said Mary Szymkowiak, communications and group tour specialist at the Dublin Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It’s usually me getting on the coach with them, but we also have some other staffers and volunteers that are trained to do that.”
During these tours, the guides take the groups to see Dublin’s principle attractions, as well as the park that hosts the annual Irish festival. They point out the public art around town, giving travelers opportunities to stop for photos, and then take them through the historic district and to an “arts castle” for a ghost story.
The CVB team has also created a number of optional experiential programs based on the area’s Irish name. They call those programs VIP (Very Irish Person) Experiences and make them available exclusively to overnight groups.
“Perhaps the most popular experience is the scavenger hunt,” Szymkowiak said. “We give them a little booklet that has Irish trivia questions in it and then break them up into smaller groups. We lead them on a walking tour of Dublin where they visit four different businesses.
“One is an Irish import store, where they engage with the shopkeeper. There’s a tea company that offers Irish tea and scones. They’re getting the answers to the trivia questions in their books, and they get unexpected treats along the way.”
Other VIP Experience options include an Irish pennywhistle class, an Irish wake party and a meet-and-greet with an Irish mascot over dinner at a local Irish pub.