Courier April/May Courier - Page 60

AFTERWORDS Tales of Travel Exchange Gaining business through brownies, Broadway and grit AS THE STORY GOES, Bertha Palmer, a well-to-do Chicago socialite and wife of Potter Palmer, who built Palmer House, needed an easy- to-carry dessert to share at a planning meeting of the Board of Lady Managers of the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893. Bertha summoned Palmer House’s chef and charged him with creating something unique. The delicious brown confection—more dense than cake, topped with walnuts and an apricot glaze—was very well received. And the brownie was born. Bertha’s brownie has remained a sig- nature dessert at Palmer House Hilton, and adaptations and modifications to the original brownie are still enjoyed around the world. Stories like this are great vehicles to engage the people with whom you inter- act at Travel Exchange. Here are a few examples of how this has worked for me. During my appointment in San Antonio with Jenna Aukerman of Omanson Tour & Travel, I discovered that her clients love unique culinary tours. Jenna and I spoke in great detail about the brownie and its historical relevance to Chicago and the World’s Columbian Exposition. Combining Jenna’s clients love for unique culinary tours and accommoda- tions, we uncovered one sweet experi- ence for future clients. Palmer House is the longest continu- ously operating hotel in North America and has created more than just the brownie, to be sure. So in order to give Jenna’s tour some depth, we also talked about History is Hott—a lunch, lecture and behind-the-scenes tour of Palmer House Hilton, including a final stop in the pastry kitchen. Tour participants leave with a piece of edible history: a brownie baked from the original 1893 recipe. 56 April/May 2018 BY MICHAEL WEINBERG, CTP As a result of our face-to-face appoint- ment at Travel Exchange, Jenna has new ideas for a culinary tour to Chicago. When you have the opportunity to meet intriguing people who share com- mon interests, you create the foun- dation for natural partnerships with mutual benefits. While mingling at a Travel Exchange evening event a few years back, I had the pleasure of meeting Michelle Hundt Tupman of Great Canadian Holidays, who loves Broadway. We were—and still are—huge fans of “Wicked.” In three hours—after “Who’s your favorite Elphaba?” and “What’s your favorite song?”—we had quietly sung tunes from the show, quoted lines as answers to questions and had a genuinely great time. Here’s the kicker: I hadn’t met Michelle until that night. From that moment on, Great Canadian Holidays has selected Palmer House Hilton for their tour series in addition to other groups throughout the year, including when the Blue Jays play the Cubs at Wrigley Field. I’m always happy to hear from Michelle—and to sing her praises. And talk about being in the right place at the right time. “Hey Twingo!” someone shouted in the gate area of my Denver to Reno flight back in 2009. It was a colleague of Globus’ Tracie Wingo, trying to get her attention. Reno was my first NTA convention, but I recognized Tracie’s name from my appointment requests and from doing research prior to the show. Within 10 minutes, I summoned the courage to find out if she was Tracie. Lucky for me, she was. Each year, starting at Convention 2009, we had our usual seven-minute appoint- ments, which included her saying, “We have a series to Chicago, but it’s not the right fit for your hotels.” But I kept at it and requested an appointment with her each year. And of course, I took the time to remind her of how we met and to find out what was new at Globus. Then in 2016, my big break came. We won a new tour series for 2017, and we got the renewal for 2018. Sometimes it takes three years, and sometimes it takes longer. But the key is that you have to invest in Travel Exchange year in and year out. Here’s one of the coolest part about the Globus series: Their final dinner includes a presentation about Palmer House Hilton by the hotel’s resident his- torian and the executive chef. And what’s for dessert? Bertha’s brownie, of course. Michael Weinberg, CTP, is senior sales manager for Hiltons of Chicago. Reach him at michael.weinberg@hilton.com.