Lisa Trudell, left, co-owner of the Midwest Travel Network; Tiffany Conrad, community sales manager for the Fort Dodge Convention and Visitors Bureau; Kerrie Kuiper, executive director of the Fort Dodge Convention and Visitors Bureau; and Sara Broers, co-owner of Midwest Travel Network, celebrate the award the bureau received for the best familiarization tour.
The staff of the Fort Dodge Convention and Visitors Bureau attended the annual Midwest Travel Network Conference last week, returning with an auspicious tourism honor.
The CVB was awarded Midwest Travel Network FAM of the Year, winning for the June 2021 Fort Dodge Outdoor Adventure Familiarization Trip.
FAM tours, or familiarization trips, are curated experiences set up by the CVB and intended to give travel writers and content creators a deeper appreciation for the area. In turn, these non-biased writers and creators pass the knowledge on to their targeted audiences; an imperative resource for today’s travelers.
“This is an honor as we competed with many FAMs taking place in communities with more tourism assets and recognition,” said CVB Executive Director Kerrie Kuiper.
This particular FAM trip included experiences at the Lizard Creek Mountain Bike Trails, Gypsum City OHV Park, Brushy Creek State Recreation Area fishing, kayaking on the Des Moines River, and hiking at Camp WaNoKi. The CVB also took media representatives to many local restaurants and attractions, including a meal under the Fort Dodge Grain Silos.
The trip resulted in more than 15 stories and videos on social media channels such as Travels With Sara; HappyTrails Hiking; Live, Love, Simplify; Des Moines Parent; Country Pilgrim; and Travel Awaits.
It also culminated in nine attractions and businesses being featured in the newly released book “100 Things To Do In Iowa Before You Die” by Sara Broers.
Kuiper attributes the success of the trip to the many volunteers.
“They led the outdoor adventures; lent equipment like bikes, kayaks, helmets, and more; and the Brookstone Inn & Suites even provided shuttle service to their activities,” she said.
Aside from recognition in the industry, the four-day conference was organized to connect and educate destination ambassadors from 14 states, travel writers, and content creators. It included a tradeshow where the CVB was able to further promote Fort Dodge and its local attractions, building interest in the area as a tourism destination.
The CVB also submitted a proposal to be the next destination to host the annual conference.
“While we weren’t selected for the annual conference, we have been selected to host a workshop in the future and we will continue to develop an itinerary aimed at a successful future application,” said Kuiper. “We connected with many writers and creators who expressed interest in visiting Fort Dodge. We have found that once we get them here, the media appreciates the diversity of our attractions and activities and are happy to share these with their audiences.”