I just got back from a meeting of group travel leaders in Kansas City that was very interesting. I think I made some solid contacts but I also heard some thought-provoking comments.
One veteran planner responded to my comment that our Scottish Festival just celebrated its 17th year this year that it must be the same thing year after year and then pretended to fall asleep. I had to point out to him how untrue that assumption was -- this year alone we tried two new components for the first time -- a Scotch tasting hosted by the McPherson Museum (which sold out) and A Scottish Evening at the McPherson Opera House with a buffet, live entertainment and a Scottish country dance that more than 100 people attended.
The festival has been so successful because the mainstays are consistent from one year to the next. The big events like entertainment, clan tents, Highland athletics, dancing and drum and pipe competitions are well run. I've only been to the last three festivals but I've seen new offerings every year like the Highland cow exhibit and a rugby match.
I've been thinking of the whole reinvention idea. Performers like Madonna will reinvent themselves with each new song. Web sites like eBay are constantly tweaking and improving their business model. If you don't hone your act you become dated, kitsch and stale. Basically Madonna is still a singer and eBay is still an auction web site, but they manage to stay relevant.
The Scottish Festival has some of the most dedicated volunteers in McPherson and trust me they don't like it when you tinker with their proven formula for success. This year we tried something different and it worked. I think everyone was pleased with the Opera House event. Hopefully the festival will continue to embrace new ideas and stay fresh for years to come.