I was a college teacher before I was a group travel leader.

I was a teacher, which meant books, syllabuses, evaluations, teacher’s guides, you know… all that academic stuff.

Suddenly I found myself in a very niche travel market, and honestly, I didn’t have a clue where to start. I scoured the library for text books. I looked for a course at the Vo-Tech, you know, Group Travel 101.

I gleaned brochures for a short course. I asked people in the business for advice. I just knew there had to be something out there. Of course, all the time I’m hunting, I’m doing. After a period of time passed, I got a call from a girl who had found herself in a group travel position and didn’t know where to start.

Someone told her to call Patti Beth. I had to just grin, I guess I had passed my crash course without the book and it was time to teach others.

This week I presented a workshop at the Oklahoma Conference on Tourism in Oklahoma City. I had the opportunity to stand in a lecture hall in front of full of people that wanted to learn about how I am successful with my Good to Go With Patti Beth group travel company.

There was discussion among the travel professionals about Oklahoma’s budget and how it was going to affect tourism. I was impressed by one of the speakers that addressed the value of the tourist dollar in our state. Their research had shown that if every taxpayer in Oklahoma had to cover what tourism brings in, we all would have to ante up about $1,250 dollars!

Staying in the mind of potential visitors was a reoccurring theme. The comparison to big companies like Coca-Cola and McDonald's was used to illustrate that you need to continue to advertise to remind customers. Big companies don’t take a year off from advertising, even when budgets have been cut.

I was among some “names” in the industry and enjoyed talking about one of my favorite subjects: travel.

As a professional group travel planner, I have been a guest speaker at Travel South, (a southern states travel conference). I have been hired as a travel consultant by various cities to come and share with their chamber of commerce and tourism programs on what they could do to make their communities more appealing to motorcoach groups.

After almost 25 years on the trail, I certainly have some tales of what works and what buses would find appealing. Since many places wonder why buses don’t frequent or even stop in their areas, I told “Tales from the Trail” of my experiences in working with destinations and what makes for a “group friendly” visit. I offered ideas on how to become more of desirable place for buses to visit.

Almost every speaker addressed the fact that tourism doesn’t know city limits, county lines or even state lines for that matter. Tourists visit an area. They don’t know who gives taxes to where or what budget paid for the ad.

The speakers encouraged all the delegates to work with their neighbors, a group effort would certainly be more attractive to a group! This idea starts at the city level first.

As the old saying goes, “Many hands make light work.” That goes for promotions. If everyone worked together, it seems like that would make the budgets stretch a bit further and ease the burden for all.

At least, that one thing I’ve learned out on the trail.

Patti Beth Anderson has more than 20 years of experience in the group travel industry taking people all over the world. Her motto is "I return with the same number of people I left with… not necessarily the same people, but the same number nevertheless. So no 'crankpots' allowed" She may be reached at 918-786-3318 or pb@goodtogowithpb.com.