One of the springtime rites of passage is the annual Brochure Swap hosted by the Nebraska Travel Association. The location this year was Hastings, in one of the buildings at the Adams County Fairgrounds. All communities should be so lucky as to have such a great facility.
By the time these pictures were taken, we had already completed our "swapping", as had many other people, so you'll just have to imagine the scene a half hour earlier with about three times the number of people.
Attractions, events, hotels, Bed and Breakfasts, recreations, wineries, visitor promotion organizations... you name it, if they depend on visitors for their livelihood, they are bringing their promotional material to Brochure Swap to be distributed throughout the state. It is a fabulous opportunity to learn about the amazing things happening across Nebraska. Swapping consists of two components. First, placing brochures on the long tables for individual attractions and Conventions and Visitors Bureaus to pick up. Second, placing brochures on the pallets to be delivered to the various staffed Vacation Information Centers along Interstate 80 across Nebraska.As a CVB, we can bring not only our official Visitor Guide, but also any brochures in which we invest promotional fund dollars to produce. For us this means the Lincoln County Historical Museum, Rail Fest, Childrens Museum, Cody Park Railroad Museum, and the 20th Century Veterans Memorial. All of the brochures have to be bundled in 50's and 25's, and clearly marked with the Visitor Center they are slated for. This means thousands of brochures for a CVB like ours. Preparing for Brochure Swap is no small feat!
They are frequently spaced, modern, clean and in park-like settings. Many of them are staffed with knowledgeable Vacation Guides provided by the Nebraska Division of Travel and Tourism. These dedicated men and women love the state of Nebraska, and they live to help travelers to enjoy their stay in our great state. They also are invaluable in enhancing the economic benefit Nebraska receives from our travelers.
You see many of them in these pictures as well, making sure that the material they've just gathered is packed properly to reach their destinations in good shape.
Because selling ourselves is almost as important as selling our destination (really, would you want to visit a place being sold to you by someone you didn't like?) Jeff Beals message of personal branding was invaluable. We were fortunate enough to have him for an hour, but he often puts on multi-day workshops on the topics, so we only got the condensed version, which I still found amazingly helpful.
The upshot of it is that you've got to be a celebrity in your own sphere of influence, you've got to follow the golden rule, and you've got to go and do! But please, don't take my word for it. Visit Jeff's website and order his book to find out for yourself.
He did give one piece of advice that I find to be a comfort. When you go and do, you are taking a risk that you are going to fall on your face! You know, you'll say the wrong thing, embarrass yourself, wake up the next day and wish you had never been born... that sort of thing. But don't let that risk stop you! It happens to everyone, and the reward is worth the risk.