Leisure Group Travel publisher Jeff Gayduk reflects on how new opportunities being offered by travel destinations mirror new experiences in his own life.

Jeff Gayduk reflects on new experiences in travel

Jeff Gayduk

Twenty-six years ago I had a toothache. Complaining to a fellow worker, she heaped praise on her local dentist and practically threw his number to me. Suffering from years of neglect, I got to be quite close to this fellow for a period of time and have been a regular patient since. I’ve grown to admire Dr. S, not just for his dental skills, but for his love of travel. On annual check-ups we’d swap travel stories, and I’m continually astonished by his ability to recall even the slightest details of a vacation and deliver the story to me like he’s telling it the first time – even though he’s probably on the 100th rendition. Little does he know that he WAS social media way before Zuckerberg.

Just before going on stage for a presentation to a room of tourism delegates in Branson, Missouri, I chipped a filling. I knew immediately this wasn’t good, but managed to get through the presentation without sounding like Sylvester the Cat. On the way to the airport I called Dr. S and told him of my plight, and he agreed to see me upon my return.

As we both prepped for the appointment, Dr. S sprang the news that after 50 years in dentistry he was hanging up his toothbrush. Equally parts sad that I have to open my mouth to a foreign pick, and excited for him about this new phase in his life, I learned that Dr. S and Mrs. S were moving to Texas to be closer to their two sons, and, of course, travel. New experiences for Dr. S, new visitors for Texas.

Later on, I traveled to Minneapolis for probably the 25th time in my professional career. Unlike previous trips, I dedicated my time to discovering fresh new travel products, thanks to the CVB’s Signature Experiences. These group products provide a deeper dive on existing tourist attractions, while creating new experiences with non-traditional players, thanks to the innovative mind of Joe Veneto. Joe possesses the innate ability to turn vanilla travel experiences into Ben & Jerry’s, and the work he’s done with destinations like Columbus, Philadelphia and Virginia Beach fits precisely into what today’s consumers are seeking in a vacation experience. For Minneapolis, new experiences create new opportunities for growth.

While at this event I received a text message and photo from my wife. It was the back of a small boy as he rode his bike down the street, backpack firmly attached. While modest at first glance, it represents a milestone in our lives. My oldest son Liam, 9 years old now, has been asking if he could ride his bike to school without mom or dad in tow. The oldest bird leaving the nest – even if it’s for a 10-minute ride on his two-wheeler, is a major stepping stone in a boy’s, and parent’s, life. Understanding the symbolism of this event, I couldn’t help but shed a tear as I glanced at the photo – first, in recognition of the event itself – the kid couldn’t be more excited, and second, that I wasn’t there to experience it. New experience for Liam, missed experience for dad.

Leisure Group Travel’s Itinerary Planning Guides include countless new experiences for your travel group – I hope you enjoy, while also taking time to seek out new experiences in your life.

By Jeff Gayduk, Publisher, Leisure Group Travel