Holiday in Louisiana
Over the years I've enjoyed the opportunity to tour Louisiana.
It goes back to my University days ... when New Orleans was less than
300 miles away. Made for a nice trip - down and back, sometimes in under
When you're a student living in a boarding house, driving an old car,
scratching for school money, New Orleans was a special treat. Inexpensive
in those days - and close.
Well, times have changed. For me. And for Louisiana. Now there is Danny
Young, Executive Director of the Louisiana Travel Promotion Association.
His assignment is to get you, me and tens of thousands of others to come
to Louisiana and stay a while. Leaving a little cash along the way.
Several times in recent years I've toured with Danny. Presenting seminars
on the creative process, planning DM, direct mail, telemarketing and web
Recently I talked with Danny about how he promotes the State of Louisiana.
As "everyone" knows New Orleans ... far fewer know the rest
of the State.
Start in New Orleans
"Well", Danny said, "to begin we encourage everyone to
come to New Orleans. There is no reason to either ignore or avoid what
is going to happen anyway. The real challenge is to get these same tourist
and convention folks to visit elsewhere."
The Louisiana Travel Promotion Association (LTPA) has as their mission
"...to lead a cohesive and unified effort of private
and public tourism based businesses in their pursuit of visitation to
As Danny says, the key word is lead. To help those in the
industry do a better job. LTPA has a nice office and a good staff. The
State makes a major contribution to the cause. Still, it is up to those
in the field, those serving the visitors, to make it happen.
Toward that end LTPA has created the School of Travel & Tourism
... hands-on training. With travel and tourism courses, from the basics
of computers and their role in business, to marketing and sales courses.
A total of 66 classes, offered over a 3 month period. Most are half day
... 3-4 hours long. Available mornings, afternoons and evenings. The most
popular are repeated.
The instructors are a mix of those within the industry, and out. Like
me. I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to share direct mail, database
and creative ideas in the 3 classes I taught.
What I learned will not be a surprise to any reader who has traveled
more than 25 miles from home; personal 1:1 service is the key to success
in the travel business, too.
And outside New Orleans?
There IS lots to do in Louisiana;
... swamp tours in many places, such as Huouma
... dixieland jazz in the French Quarter - and literally hundreds
of other places
... casinos in Shreveport, Lake Charles, Marksville and elsewhere
... Mardi Gras parades in Baton Rouge, and almost every town through-out
... a Zydeco music festival in St. Landry Parish, and a dozen other
... a visit up the Creole Nature Trail
... a Texcuco Plantation Home tour in Darrow, and at other civil
war sites around the state
... a river boat tour from the Riverwalk in New Orleans
... a visit to Tabasco land - with samples
... a botanical tour - such that at Hodges Gardens
... discover Natchitoches, the oldest permanent settlement in the
Louisiana Purchase Territory
... a group - or solo - walking tour of New Orleans
... golf resorts in a score of places, and cooking schools in many
... "December on the River" just about everywhere there
is a river, in December, and
... a cajun country meal in just about anyplace ... period!
Nature, history, culture, language, music, food all mix with geography
to make Louisiana a most interesting visit.
Plus, it is all about people. If you're from what we in the USA call
"the south", you already know about hospitality. And courtesy.
And kindness. The slightly slower pace. Where change happens by evolution,
not revolution. That story tellers are "in" ... that "party"
is considered a way of life.
But you still have to promote it
Okay, even when you've got it all - and Louisiana nearly has it all -
you've still got to talk about it. "Build it and they will come"
is not so. Maybe never was. Certainly is not in the 21st Century.
So, what do Danny and the LTPA membership, combined with the State Tourism
body, do? To get you and me to visit, to tour, to stay that extra day,
to spend a bit more?
First, they have brochures. Boy, do they have brochures! When I was in
the LTPA offices in Baton Rouge I asked for "one of every brochure
you have". I was told the number is over 300! I decided I didn't
need to know that much ... so changed my request to "the 25 you feel
give the best overall story".
What they do with the brochures is what every travel organization does
- scatter them about. It is hard to walk anywhere in the state without
a rack of literature "jumping" at you.
They also work with tour operators elsewhere around the nation - and
now, several outside the USA. With tourism offices in Europe and South
One of the results is tour buses bring thousands into the State every
day. New Orleans, together with Branson (country music capital in the
Ozark Mountains of Missouri), and Orlando, Florida (Disney and countless
other attractions) are the 3 most visited sites by bus in the lower 48
of the USA.
LTPA makes certain the highway travel centers are stocked and staffed.
There is a little television, and a lot of print. They work with their
members in putting together special travel collections for newspapers
and magazines. In creating newsletters for unique niches. In pitching
Today there is a web site. The day I'm writing this Danny is not particularly
proud of it. Yet, it is being revised, updated, and being made visitor
friendly. By the time you read this there is a good chance a surfer will
be able to log-in, share preferences, ask for info, all on line. Just
as it should be!
My first real jobs were in the travel industry. Steamships and
hotels. You know, there isn't a whole lot different today. A decent product,
a sound message, presented with a little flair, delivered to the right
audience, by nice people ... and "bingo" ... bottom line positive
Next time you're thinking about a holiday - think about Louisiana. You