My favorite part of my job is selling Dublin. Not just promoting it (which is really fun, too)—but really making people fall in love with this city. You see, I’m a longtime Dublin girl. We moved here way back in the day when Dublin was mostly farmland. Admittedly, it wasn’t so cool back then for a young city girl. But Dublin, Ohio has grown into an awesome destination (not to mention a great place to live and raise kids)--thanks to a lot of foresight and gentle guidance by local officials.
Sometimes selling Dublin is easy—especially if people have been here before for the Dublin Irish Festival, PGA Memorial Tournament, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium—or if they’ve been here on business or for a sports tournament. But when you are one of 1,000 destinations on a trade show floor in a convention center somewhere in the continental U.S. (and most of the conference attendees have never heard of you or Dublin, Ohio), selling the destination can be a little more of a challenge. That’s where the fun part comes in. It can be a long process—but, I feel I can say with confidence that, if I can get a group here AND interact with them, I can make them fall in love with my emerald city. Case in point: The Liberty Travelers.
Last week, we hosted a Group Tour (motor coach) from Illinois—The Liberty Travelers. They were on a “Mystery Trip”—meaning they trusted their tour operator to put together a 3-day fun adventure to some unknown place that is really cool, doing things they didn’t expect, resulting in memories they’d never forget. (No pressure for the operator AT ALL.) After building a relationship with the operator and convincing him to take a chance on our “Irish Experience” itinerary—I was able to get them to come to Dublin.
Now, picture this. It’s day #1 of their tour. They have just arrived in Historic Dublin and are sitting on their bus waiting to disembark. I step on board, welcome them to Dublin, give them a little local history and say “Okay, we’re going to have some fun now. We’re going on a Four-Leaf Clover Scavenger Hunt!” Inevitably, here comes THE LOOK. You know it. It’s the same expression we all have our faces when we attend a meeting and the leader starts with “We’re going to play an icebreaker game.” It’s the look that says, “Oh, no. She’s going to make us play a game. I really just want to sit here.” That's when we start to surprise them. We give them game booklets and we lead them to four local businesses where they sample Irish teas, taste freshly baked scones, shop for Celtic imports and meet some “fruity” sisters (that woo them with chocolates).
While walking from shop-to-shop, I tell them about growing up in Dublin or share local ghost stories. They tell me about their families or their visits to Ireland. A couple hours later, the tour is over. It’s time to get on the bus and move on to the next stop (maybe an Irish dance lesson or Penny Whistle Class). Then comes the best part of my job. The part that makes me a conversion junkie. They each hug me—and say things like, “Oh, this was so much fun.” “I never knew Dublin had so much to offer.” “I’m going to tell all my friends about this place.” And that makes for an AWESOME day.
-Post by Mary