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A New Spin

Earlier this summer, I received an email from Linda Benson, the leader of Trinity Travelers from Trinity Lutheran Church in Oak Lawn Illinois. I met Linda a few years ago at a tourism event in Chicago, so I was excited to see what she had to say.

I think you’ll enjoy hearing her story, too. Here’s what she wrote:

I just wanted to share a recent trip that our Trinity Travelers made earlier this month. In the spring, I always plan a mystery trip. This year our numbers were down, so I just wanted to go somewhere that was not far away but yet had a lot to offer. 

After searching several destinations, I looked up Warsaw, Indiana, and connected with Tina Keaffaber at the Kosciusko County Convention and Visitors Bureau. We had met at a Going On Faith Conference several years prior, so it was fun to work with her.

Our church has our own bus that’s 20 years old, and we travel with small or large groups. On this trip we only had 12 of us, but that was to our advantage.  When we arrived in Warsaw, our bus had transmission problems. After several phone calls, we got our bus to a repair shop, rented a van, and off we went to many adventures the next few days with Tina as our guide. 

Our trip included so many interesting places: Du Pay Orthopedic plant (Warsaw is the orthopaedic capital of the world), Biblical Gardens and Whetstone Woodenware. We made soy candles, visited Robert Hudson artist, glass cutter, Winona History center, Billy Sunday Home, Salt Cave, Old Jail Museum, Camel Dairy farm and more.

Our accommodations were wonderful, and so many great places to eat were also planned out with entertainment for our little group of 12. It was a most enjoyable four days. Our group had such a great time. 

I just wanted to share our recent trip, but we usually always have good trips and great times.

Keep up the good work!

There are many things I love about this story. First, I appreciate Linda’s resourcefulness. A bus breaking down can be a real headache, and a less experienced travel planner might have had a lot of trouble in this situation. But thanks to Linda’s quick thinking, along with the help of a great partner in Tina at the CVB, the group enjoyed a memorable experience in Warsaw that could easily have been derailed.

I also love Linda’s outlook on the size of her groups. There are a lot of tour companies that would cancel a tour if they only had 12 people registered. And although there are some economics that must be considered, a small group doesn’t necessarily mean that a tour is a failure. Working with a small group is an opportunity to use a smaller vehicle and build stronger relationships during the trip.

Finally, Linda’s story highlights the possibilities that groups can find even in small destinations. The Kosciusko County area offered enough fun to keep the group busy for four days, and Tina was able to serve as a private tour guide.

If you have a story about a memorable trip your group has been on recently, I’d love to hear it. You can reach me at brianj@grouptravelleader.com.

Happy traveling!

Brian Jewell

Brian Jewell is the executive editor of The Group Travel Leader. In more than a decade of travel journalism he has visited 48 states and 25 foreign countries.

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