|Shebby Lee Tours regularly produces an email newsletter.
Sharing stories with group tours
© 2012 Group Tour Media Blog,
June 20, 2012
By David Hoekman
Shebby Lee, the innovative tour operator based in Rapid City, S.D., emailed me her June newsletter yesterday. The email, packed with colorful photos, highlights upcoming departures of group tours offered by Shebby Lee Tours.
She also pointed out she had just attended Travel Alliance Partner’s Tap Dance marketplace in Shreveport, La., and will be sharing new destinations in the months to come.
The newsletter included a link to Lee’s blog, Trail Talk.
Her June 1 posting began with a quote from Don Hewitt, the masterful producer of CBS News’ 60 Minutes for 30-some years. Hewitt’s mantra for the program was one simple sentence: “Tell me a story.”
“This is good advice, not only for television news but for just about any human endeavor,” Lee wrote. “People are hungry for authentic experiences which can give meaning to their lives, and seek such experiences even when on vacation. Or perhaps especially on vacation.”
Lee goes on to say that for 35 years Shebby Lee Tours has been featuring tours that tell a story.
She explained, however, it’s not enough to just hear the stories.
“We also see where they took place, what the conditions were like and meet some of the characters themselves along the way. For example, we might hear a lonely soldier describe his life in a windswept frontier post as he goes about his daily routine, or help a pioneer woman attempt to cook a nutritious meal for her family out of cornmeal and salt pork cooked over an open fire,” she wrote.
I think Lee is exactly right in her approach of stories plus places and characters. As a newspaper reporter and now here at Group Tour Media, my main question has been: tell me your story. For the most part, people are glad you asked. They want to tell their stories. And readers and viewers are eager to read and see those stories.
And meeting characters on a tour — that is a memorable and powerful method of storytelling.
In today’s social media-rich environment, there are all kinds of ways to alert others to stories. Heck, even I am posting messages on Twitter.
On its website, Shebby Lee Tours has neat Facebook and Twitter buttons that look like covered wagons.
Earlier this week, I received my July print issue of Travel + Leisure, published by American Express Publishing Corporation.
The cover announces: 7 Reason Social Media Will Change the Way You Travel.
The magazine also lists the winners of its first Social Media in Travel + Tourism awards, known as SMITTY Awards for short.
Now that Travel + Leisure is acknowledging social media in travel and tourism, it’s almost as if social media has arrived for the industry. It’s gained a certain level of acceptability and legitimacy.
SMITTY Awards were given for best use of a social media platform, best single social media promotion and best social media promotion of travel deals.
My next question: Tell me your social media stories.
David Hoekman, the managing editor of Group Tour Media, lives in Holland, Mich. He is starting to think in Tweets.
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