EVENT: 2018 International Round Up
DATE: April 8-11, 2018
How do you facilitate $130 million in international travel buying, international relationship building and showcase your own destination in three days? That’s the question the Kalispell CVB pondered when successfully bidding for Kalispell, Montana, to host the 2018 International Round Up.
The annual tradeshow for group travel marketer Rocky Mountain International each year selects one location to host its annual April event, bringing travel businesses, destinations and attractions from across the American West together with international group travel buyers specializing in inclusive travel.
Hosting the International Round Up was a major opportunity for the community of Kalispell—located in the heart of Northwest Montana near the iconic Glacier National Park and Flathead Lake—to showcase its small-city charm and beautiful natural landscape to international guests. The Kalispell CVB helped organize a familiarization tour of Kalispell and the surrounding area for IRU attendees to witness its charming downtown, the beauty of Glacier National Park, a taste of the local culture and history and a sampling of hotel properties.
While April in Northwest Montana is beautiful with snow-capped peaks and greening valleys, Glacier National Park and many of the local tourism businesses are not fully open. This posed a challenge to the Kalispell CVB and IRU event planners out to show attendees all there is to do and see in the area.
“We only had a three-day window to expose our guests to our destination and a year’s worth of cultural and outdoor activities,” said Dawn Jackson, Kalispell CVB group sales manager. “We couldn’t fit everything into our day-long fam tour, so our idea was to bring our culture and outdoors to our guests.”
The event didn’t include time for attendees to see a full rodeo, so organizers gave them a customized sample of the real thing, with one or two riders in each classic rodeo event demonstrating their skills in barrel racing, bronc riding, calf roping, bull riding and even unexpected bull fighting. That evening offered guests a full Western experience with the addition of stick horse racing, authentic barbecue and line dancing lessons.
And since event organizers weren’t able to take the tour operators to each local venue, they brought the venues and activities to the tour operators through “Activity Showcases.” The first showcase featured the “Glacier National Park experience” and was held during a lunch on the grounds of the Glacier Outdoor Center near the park entrance at West Glacier. Vendors represented the full national park experience, including horseback riding, scenic boat touring, hiking, wildlife watching, rafting and rock climbing.
The second Activity Showcase was at the Hilton Garden Inn Kalispell prior to the final banquet and offered a mini trade show of local vendors that spanned flyboarding, airplane touring, skiing, sailing, chartered fishing, kayaking and other paddle sports, as well as the region’s cultural attractions, including the symphony and local museums.
“The local fam tour, rodeo night and showcases really demonstrated to our attendees all of the amazing things travelers can do and see in and around Kalispell,” said Susie Pratt, Rocky Mountain International’s chief marketing officer. “They walked away with a full perspective of this scenic and culturally rich region that is extremely welcoming to all travelers.”
“We believe that IRU was not only a success for attendees,” Jackson added, “but it also provided our local business community the rare opportunity to network with the international tour and travel market and learn more about the significance of international travel.”
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