Monday, January 18, 2010

Tough times for some, opportunities for others

One of the first things I did after starting this job last year was attend the Kansas City Travel and Culinary Expo in Overland Park. It was the first time the show had been offered in KC and I got a last minute deal on a booth so I thought "Hey, why not?"
The show was aimed at consumers looking for vacation ideas and, for my first show, I thought it was well attended and I met many other CVBs.
So when the chance to attend it again this year came up, I jumped on board and have been looking forward to it. Unfortunately the show was recently canceled based on poor attendance at a similar show in Louisville. I only found this out by combing the internet trying to see why my confirmation had never arrived, but I was intrigued by the lengthy explanation from the show's organizers as to why they canceled the show that was posted on their Web site. Here's a few snippets:
"tourism, like many industries, is being hurt by the global economic crisis. State revenue from transportation, sales and hotel taxes have plummeted and many companies and government agencies, have been forced to lay off workers."
This statement may hold true in many parts of the country, but I wondered if this was the case in Kansas. I pulled up reports on guest tax collected in 2008 and compared them to similar reports for 2009 in search of the plummeting hotel taxes. For fiscal year 2008 (July through June), $31.2 million was collected in guest tax. For fiscal year 2009, $30.8 million was collected statewide. That's about a one percent decrease. The previous two years saw gains of 19.7 percent and 10.1 percent. So while revenue isn't growing at the same rate as previous years, it is holding fairly steady. McPherson has been fortunate to see an increase each of the last three fiscal years -- partly due to an increase in the number of hotel rooms available after Holiday Inn Express was built.
My foray into statistics has convinced me that 1) I didn't major in math for a reason and 2) people are still traveling, just maybe not as far.
While that's bad news for Disney, it's good news for places like McPherson.
Here's another snippet:
"the emotional impact of living through the worst recession many consumers had experienced, continuing high unemployment and the fact that our economic bubbles have all burst -- will create a new consumer who spends money more conscientiously."
Sounds like a gloomy forecast or maybe the forecaster just needs a vacation. McPherson has many family-friendly activities and weekend getaway options. Swimming, golf, music venues, fun festivals like All Schools Day and the Scottish Festival, a beautiful downtown with unique shopping are all part of our affordable charm.
One great source for finding affordable local travel in Kansas is through the Kansas Sampler Foundation's new rural travel initiative Web site Each participating town posts information about what there is to explore in their town. Locals always know the best places to go and this gives them a platform to get that information out to the world.
I've recently had the opportunity to work with the Sampler ladies on their most recent 8 Wonders contest. Maxwell Wildlife Refuge near Canton has been nominated as one of the top 24 finalist in the 8 Wonders of Kansas Geography. You can vote for Maxwell and learn something about the other 23 finalists at
You may have heard about the city's recent acquisition of Turkey Creek Golf Course. If you'd like to find out about the 2010 rates, current specials or see some great pictures of our fine course, visit or

Opera House opening creates excitement

Can you feel the excitement in the air? It’s not from a post-holiday giving buzz but I’m incredibly excited about the upcoming opening of the McPherson Opera House at the end of this month.
First the fact the Opera House will bring in many new visitors to town makes me a happy CVB director. I’m lucky to get to work with my predecessor Judy Casey on marketing the first season of shows at the Opera House. Judy is just one of the many volunteers that has brought the Opera House back to life. I’d love to run through a list of them all but I’m afraid I’d overlook someone. You can volunteer at the Opera House too by calling 241-1952.
Second, I’m anxious to see a show in the remodeled auditorium. Though the grand opening will be for private donors, there will be ample opportunity in the coming months to see a show. Here’s the most recent list I have of scheduled shows for 2010.

Jan. 30 Free movies

Feb. 14 Tap Kids

Mar. 9 David Munnelly Band

Mar. 12-13 Cats Off Broadway

Mar. 20 Comedian James Gregory

Apr. 23 Brasil Guitar Duo

May 15 The Eric Vaughn Magic Review

June 12 The Three Little Pigs, Wichita Children’s Theater

June 19, 20, 25, 26, & 27 The Wizard of Oz, McPherson Community Theatre

Sept. 18 The Glenn Miller Orchestra

Oct. 2 Galactic Cowboy Orchestra

Keep up-to-date on the latest shows at

January through March is typically a slow time of year for tourism in McPherson. We are firing up the trolley during those months for historical trolley tours for elementary, middle and high school classes. If you’d like to sponsor a tour for your child’s class at an extremely affordable rate, give me a call at (620) 241-3340.


14-17 VFW Mid Winter Conference, Holiday Inn Express, 25 rooms

21-23 Sunflower Chapter NAIFA, Holiday Inn Express, 20 rooms

29 Days Inn, 20 rooms