Navigating a Global Pandemic in the Group Travel Industry, with Kate Scopetti

Episode 194

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Kate Scopetti is living a full life revolving around a passion for travel. This, plus an exceptional ability to develop super creative and truly unique experiences, naturally led to the creation of the categorically successful Mid Atlantic Receptive Services, (MARS) and its subsidiaries: Go Performing, Go Student Tours, Go Sports Tours, and Destination on the Left is joined by Kate Scopetti, President and owner of MARS & Companies (Mid-Atlantic Receptive Services). On our podcast, Kate joins us to talk about the group travel industry, the work her organization is doing to prepare for recovery, and why collaborations are more important than ever. She explains her philosophy of “opening our minds to where the opportunities lie,” and talks about how that philosophy is applied in her own businesses.

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Kate’s background and her journey into the travel and tourism industry
  • The evolution of MARS & Companies since its inception
  • What MARS & Companies is doing to prepare for recovery after the pandemic
  • How MARS & Companies transformed into a true wholesaler
  • How Kate has used creativity to help MARS stand out from the crowd
  • The different strains of collaboration in the group travel industry
  • Why collaboration is more important than ever in the group travel industry
  • Kate’s philosophy of “opening our minds to where the opportunities lie,” and how that philosophy is applied in her own businesses
  • How the group travel industry has been affected by the global pandemic

MARS & Companies

Kate Scopetti is the President and owner of MARS & Companies (Mid Atlantic Receptive Services). With a full life revolving around a passion for travel, Kate has developed an exceptional ability to craft extremely creative and truly unique experiences that led to the formation of MARS and its subsidiaries. On our podcast, Kate joins us to talk about the group travel industry, the work her organization is doing to prepare for recovery, and why collaborations are more important than ever. She explains her philosophy of “opening our minds to where the opportunities lie,” and talks about how that philosophy is applied in her own businesses.

Transforming into a True Wholesaler

MARS & Companies initially started as a receptive company in the Mid Atlantic Region. They developed a substantial following in the DC area as the go-to experts for tour operators and other agents in the area. They worked collaboratively with this regional network of tourism professionals to connect different types of clients with different types of products throughout the year. And from there, they transformed into a true wholesaler. MARS & Companies now offer products around the world, and they still have a significant amount of clients that were with them from the beginning.

Creativity in the Group Travel industry

Collaboration has enabled Kate to build a powerful foundation and client base, but the use of creativity really helped MARS & Companies stand out from the pack. Kate and her team use creativity to build unique, custom strategies for their clients based on the specific needs and goals of each one. As a wholesaler, they can help their clients grow by expanding their product offerings without adding a significant amount of labor. Using creativity during these difficult times is only going to yield new solutions that will become part of your product line when things pick up again. As we make our way out of this pandemic, that is important to remember.

Nicole Mahoney: 00:17 Hello listeners. This is Nicole Mahoney, host of destination on the left. Welcome to this week’s episode with another interesting guest, Kate skip petty president and owner of mid Atlantic receptive services. Kate has a full life revolving around a passion for travel plus an exceptional ability to develop super creative and truly unique experiences that naturally led to the creation of the categorically successful mid Atlantic receptive services and its subsidiaries go performing, go student tours, go sports tours and soccer tours that net during this interview, Kate and I talk about the group travel industry, what she is doing to prepare her company for recovery after the pandemic and how collaborations are more important than ever Kate shares that her best advice is to open your mind to where the possibilities lie. She opens up about how she applies that philosophy in her business. And I know that you will gain a lot from this interview.

Nicole Mahoney: 01:19 So get your notepad ready before we dive into the interview. I want to share this important message with you, Kate, thank you so much for joining us on the show today. I am so much looking forward to our conversation, but before we get into the questions for the interview, could you please share a little bit about your story and your background in your own words? I find it offers so much more context to our conversation. Sure, Nicole, and thank you for having me today. It’s a pleasure to be here. Let’s see that’s a long ago history, but I think I can remember. I got my start in the hospitality industry in the hotels, which many of us did and actually was just out of college, started as a, as a bartender. And it was pretty quick on my feet and it was a hard worker and, uh, got promoted and promoted again and promoted again and eventually landed in the sales position at that particular hotel. And, uh, we did not have any motor coach business and I kept reading about these buses and all the rooms they would bring in. And I thought, well, how can I create a program that would bring motor coach business to our hotel? And it was in this hotel is located in a small town in Western Pennsylvania, happened to be Jimmy Stewart’s hometown. And also there was a kind of a unique, uh, Amish community, a sector of a Mennonites that was in the area as well. So I got my thinking on it and I just

Kate Scopetti: 03:00 Thought, Hey, what about, it’s a wonderful life in Jimmy Stewart’s hometown. And from there, we, um, we actually interviewed some of his boyhood, uh, friends. Um, we created, um, an itinerary, our routing train, the guides gave them the talking points that we wanted to cover. Um, and, and then we raised about $30,000 to create, um, a festival of lights at a park, a drive through festival of lights. And, um, then another partner, um, got involved and, and built the museum, which is still, is still there, the Jimmy Stewart museum. And so, uh, we, we actually started selling tours and so I got that diesel into my parking lot. And, uh, to this day that was like, geez, that must have been in 80 1987 or 88 at any rate, there are still selling that product there. So I was very proud that they’re still reaping the benefits of that creative component.

Kate Scopetti: 04:09 And from that hotel, I got promoted to their headquarters, which was in Washington D C area, uh, for eight hotels, if this, uh, the owners, uh, operated in a very various different locations and, um, course tour and travel being in the DC area. Uh, we were at Richmond, Indianapolis, Baltimore in Virginia Beach. So we had already, uh, an audience of tour and travel. And so I fell in love with that particular aspect of all of the different diverse markets in the hotel business. And that turned into be my true love and about AB and 92, I think it was, I created a tour company for the owner of the hotel company, convincing him that he might as well make the revenue on tours if they didn’t stay at his hotel and then even more heads were in his beds. And he reluctantly agreed with that. And three years later it was, um, about 1.5 between 1.5 and $2 million company. And, uh, he didn’t share with me very much. So I, uh, I basically called my attorney and said, how do I get out of this? And then that from there was born, uh, Mars, mid Atlantic towards

Nicole Mahoney: 05:30 That’s a, that’s an amazing story. And, uh, I, I love how you created this product in the eighties in Pennsylvania and how that kind of, uh, it sounds like inspired the community to really get around some product development and tourism yeah. Asset development with the museum, the festival of lights.

Kate Scopetti: 05:51 Yeah. It was funny Nicole, because I went to the tourist Bureau first and I thought this was just a brilliant idea. And they kind of looked at me like I had stupid stamped on my floor. And so I, in my typical fashion just said, you know, all the heck with them, I’ll, I’ll get it done myself, which, which we did. Um, but then of course, once the business started coming in, a lot of business jumped on board, which is what you need in order to have, you know, a successful partnership and programs. So anyway, it just all worked out for the best in the end, but it took a stubborn person like me to get it going in the first place. Well, they say if, if people don’t like your idea to stare at, you probably add to something. Right. Maybe I think that’s great.

Kate Scopetti: 06:45 And then, um, so then you moved to DC helped start a company for your hotel owner and then broke away and started Mars. So we talk a little bit about what Lantech receptive services, what you are doing now and kind of the evolution of your company. Well, we started initially, that’s why it’s such a mouthful as a receptive company in the, in the mid Atlantic region. At that time, we defined that as, um, DC, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, kind of all the mid Atlantic States. And we, we developed quite a following and became very well known as a kind of a DC, uh, go to company for the trade for other tour operators and agents. And, um, worked hard with our partnerships here at the destinations to create a products that would, you know, continue to bring different kinds of clients to different kinds of project products throughout the year.

Kate Scopetti: 07:52 Um, and then from there we just morphed into a true wholesaler off. We got, we now offer a product around the world, still have many clients that I had in the very beginning, um, which is, uh, one of my, I think my biggest compliments that I have, uh, with Mars. So one, one in particular, um, I w I worked with his father when I worked at the hotel company and, uh, his father, uh, was one of, probably my first 10 tour products that I put together and his father has since passed. And now I work very closely with his son. So I just loved being a part of those continuing, uh, families. So we’ve grown from, uh, off, you know, about maybe 20 to 25 tours to post COVID. I mean, pre COVID, pre COVID, we were running anywhere between 250 and 300 group tour programs a year, varying in size from 15 people to 1500 people.

Nicole Mahoney: 09:07 Yeah, that’s a, that’s great. And we’re going to talk a little bit about post COVID here in a few minutes. I know.

Kate Scopetti: 09:13 Yeah,

Nicole Mahoney: 09:15 Absolutely. Um, but one thing I’ve known, cause for listeners’ sake, I know I have gotten to know you over the past few years, especially because, um, one of the work that my company does with travel Alliance partners. And one thing that I have always enjoyed, uh, about UK is you have this really, you know, fun, uh, spirit, this really, you know, positive outlook and, um, and this creativity about you, that that is, uh, is really awesome. So I know you’re going to have a lot to, to add to the conversation and a lot to share with our, with our listeners, uh, as we, as we go through this today.

Kate Scopetti: 09:55 Yeah. Well, I have an art background, so that’s where that creativity comes from and travel come. I came by it, honestly, my father and mother, we traveled voraciously, uh, since I was a young child. So that came up by honestly as well.

Nicole Mahoney: 10:10 Oh yeah, absolutely. So let’s talk a little bit more about creativity and, um, you know, let’s first talk a little bit about what you’ve done with Mars, um, to really help your company stand out from the crowd. I mean, you know, it’s, it’s a very, uh, competitive marketplace out there and this of course is a little bit pre COVID. We’ll talk a little bit about post COVID in a few minutes, but your, you know, your viewpoint and really how you differentiated your company, you know, from the pack.

Kate Scopetti: 10:45 No, I think first and foremost, we, um, everything we do is custom created for each client. So we start the very get, go by having a personal relationship, not only with our clients, but trying to collect, connect, you know, through our clients, to their client base, what it’s like and what their desires and wishes are. So we interview every client to gain a high level of understanding about their business first and foremost. And, and, you know, we listened to their budget, needs their specific experiences, both good and bad. Um, so we learned from those communications about how we can, uh, create something that, that will really, uh, meet and hopefully exceed, you know, their client’s expectations. Also, I think flexibility is, is key. One thing, you know, we can count on for sure is change. And, uh, constantly being flexible to that I think is paramount.

Kate Scopetti: 11:51 And I think for people to feel comfortable within travel, they have to feel like who they’re working with is going to be flexible to their needs and desires and open to listen to those needs. And third, I guess, is that we, you know, we pride ourselves on very unique and often exclusive products and some events, um, which we spend a tremendous amount of time on, uh, continuing education and creativity, as you mentioned. So I think clients look to us for all those things and particularly come back to us to look for what do you, what do you have new what’s different. What’s going to excite, you know, my clients and, and I, and I really try to help them work through the process of a changing client base, you know, be it, the generations are changing or how we can help them to grow their market base because we are pretty diversified and we understand a lot of different types of markets.

Kate Scopetti: 13:00 And that also, I think, uh, comes from the hotel background because if you’re a hotelier you’re selling to a wide audience and not specifically only tour and travel. So I learned how to adapt to those, the needs of various types of clientele. So our hope in being a wholesale is that we can have a client that we can help grow their company without adding on a lot of labor and also by diversifying the product offering. Yeah, I think that’s, that’s really great. I love that you start with your client’s business and their, you know, their business goals and what’s important to them within their business. And don’t just dive right into, you know, um, providing the product. You really have that deeper understanding. I think that’s a really great, uh, great point. And then, um, to be able to add on the flexibility and then do unique and exclusive products, I think just makes, uh, makes a lot of sense. I think that’s just a really great, uh, you know, strategy that you’ve put together. That makes sense. I think so let’s talk a little bit about creativity, uh, in the face of a challenge or adversity.

Kate Scopetti: 14:21 Well, yeah, right, exactly. Which we’re all, you know, making our way through right now. And, and, uh, I, I’d love to hear your viewpoint on, you know, how, how you, you and your company are waiting your way through, but also kind of your perspective on where you think the industry is going. It’s a big question. Interesting one, um, you know, none of us truly know now, uh, what is going to like, we know it will be different, but I think it’s, uh, you know, it’s probably gonna change in a lot of different ways with the challenge before this one that I had a mini training session on was a mini COVID training session. That’s what I call. It was a nine 11 because at nine 11, you know, being then almost specifically a DC oriented, uh, receptive, we were severely impacted by, by that event.

Kate Scopetti: 15:24 And so we immediately began to, um, I, while I was writing new product that day, thinking, going to be bad for DC, I better put some new programming together. And so I did, I, we chugged along for three years waiting for things to get better. Um, but we had obviously had some business, not like no business now. Um, but, uh, the, one of the things that I learned out of my mini COBIT training session was that out of, out of these kinds of challenges come, the biggest opportunities that we have and that, you know, being creative at the, at these times and using it to your advantage is only going to become part of your product later. And so we win the world war II Memorial was dedicated in Washington, DC. That was Oh five. And that was really the beginning of the end. And that the demand was huge.

Kate Scopetti: 16:29 A lot of pent up demand. We had partnered with American veterans organization to work with them on the, the world war II dedication itself. We had 50 coaches in for that event. And that, like I said, was the beginning of the end for us. And we coming out of that event, we lost three competitors and we had diversified. So we had more product. So we grew tremendously, like, I think it was like 40% and, and Oh, five of above what we had done the best year prior. Um, so I tried to take some of that away with where we are now. Um, and we have been spending most of our time, uh, most of what we, you know, tour downtime to create new products and, and tours to enhance and expand upon our websites and, and to significantly increase our marketing to ensure that when touring does resume, that we are top of the mind, um, with, with all of our clients and all of our prospective clients.

Kate Scopetti: 17:49 So they know that they can come to us and build their products. And I, I think what might happen is, you know, for sure there’s going to be companies that, you know, we already know are out of business and there’s probably going to be more, but probably more often than that occurs, that we’ll be downsizing and downsizing when a market comes back, I think it will be extremely hungry. And I think companies that have downsized will have challenges with keeping up with that and that partnering with cust, uh, companies such as Mars is one way that we can all help each other recover at the other end of this thing. Um, because we can, we’re kind of their office, we’re an outsourcing office if you will, for tour operators. So we have planners, we have operations folks, we have accounting folks. And basically we do all of that for that client, but just not on a contract tracted base, we make the money, of course, when the tour operates. So I don’t know if that answered your question completely, but Oh, absolutely. No thoughts.

Nicole Mahoney: 19:10 Yeah, no, that was a, that was terrific. And, uh, you took us, I love how you, you know, went back and talked about your mini training session in that in nine 11 and you know what, so you see, you have some idea of where there could be some opportunities coming out of this. Um, and I think this is a really interesting perspective to think about how partnering might be actually one of the biggest opportunities if I’m hearing you correctly, as we move out of this. And it’s something that I’ve been thinking a lot about as well, because, uh, as you know, on the, on the show, we, we talked about collaboration a lot and, uh, I’ve actually been thinking about the collaborations, um, for clients that we work with for, um, with the, with the folks I interview on the show and really thinking how important those are going to be, uh, to our recovery and to what the new, um, might look like. So I think that’s really very interesting and that, and I’m wondering if you can elaborate a little bit more on collaboration and, um, you know, you just described this outsourcing piece, um, and in ways that collaboration really can help with the recovery. Well, I mean, we collaborate

Kate Scopetti: 20:28 All all the time. I mean, I’ve, I’ve always been a huge collaborator because, you know, you can do so much with, with a team and, and, um, but with relationships to import ownerships that you can collaborate on, you can really build, um, quickly. And, you know, he had a much wider target audience, but collaboration is, is not just like one aspect. It could be like I mentioned, American veterans organization and association such as, such as that we, um, they, they handle the Memorial day parade and programming every year. Um, and they do the, uh, the telecast for the troops, the live telecast for the troops at the Kennedy center at the parade. And so we partnered with them on a revenue share program whereby uh, we got seats at the parade by the vets and we, uh, where there’s no seats at this particular parade.

Kate Scopetti: 21:36 Um, and we get a lunch served there. And then we also have a choral festival with reserved seats that they is another partner, there’s a music festival company. Um, but it’s, uh, it’s, uh, excellent production by the national of the air force symphony and they’re professional for all people, but it could be other, other types of entities like hotels. For instance, a lot of times we partner and collaborate with hotels. We have brainstorm, you know, storming sessions where we’ll sit down and talk about need dates and how, you know, what products can we create, what events can we create that will be a win win for everybody whereby I can offer our client base extremely attractive rates and value adds and concessions, and the hotels are pleased as punch because they’re filling a need base dates. We also collaborate with destinations a lot. Um, you know, I constantly am in contact with a variety of destinations and we have collaborated to create programming.

Kate Scopetti: 22:52 Um, we have a unique, uh, international tattoo program in, um, Virginia Beach and Norfolk that we, um, have a antique air show of world war two and vintage aircraft. That’s private for our groups. Um, we charter the spirit ship, another, you know, partner and collaborator, uh, to do a special kind of red, white and blue, uh, dinner cruise on the last evening as a grand finale. But we also partnered on that product with the Norfolk and Virginia Beach CVB. And they, um, Norfolk for instance, worked with the Virginia arts to bring tattoo performers to a private luncheon that we have. So not only do we see the tattoo performance, um, from premium seats, but we also have tattooed performance come to our lunch in locations. And so they have a first hand close up in entertainment and also, you know, their communication about their culture, where they’re from the traditional, um, garb and, and all of that.

Kate Scopetti: 24:02 They have that they communicate and do a little presentation. So it’s very personal and unique. So you see, I think collaboration can be anywhere, can be all the, all the less that work in tourism. And even beyond that people that offer different products and programming festivals and so on, all of that is collaboration. And, um, I think that, you know, we’ve been able to leverage quite a bit of that, um, you know, throughout our history and our product line again, because I’ve been more destined, I think, because I’ve been more destination oriented since the beginning as a hotelier, but, you know, I, I’m always eager to create that. I have this thirst to create things. I’m not creating something I’m bored.

Nicole Mahoney: 24:52 I love that. That’s great, you know, as you were talking and, and I really appreciate you sharing all of those different ways that you collaborate, because it, I think it really is eye opening for our listeners to hear you talk about that and, and kind of out of the box, especially when you were describing the relationship you have with the American veterans association and the revenue share relationship that you have with them, to me, that seems like a very out of the box way to approach it. Um, and so I’m curious if you have any advice for listeners who might be thinking about collaborations like that, how do you, you know, how do you open those conversations? And are you finding that that organizations like that are, are open to the conversations, or is there a lot of kind of predating that you have to do to kind of warm them up to the idea?

Kate Scopetti: 25:46 It kind of, you know, it depends, um, the American veterans organization, for instance, um, I think, you know, first you have to look and see where your opportunities might lie. So I am constantly looking at, um, things that are happening around around me and, and in our various destinations like that, we might be able to enhance and, um, organize it in a group friendly format. So if we’re going to use that as an example, when I was looking at the Memorial day parade, I’m thinking, Hey, we’re in Washington D C and nobody features this really, you know, patriotic event and all of the places where we can pay homage, Arlington cemetery at Quantico cemetery and so on and so forth, and the special programming we that we can do there. So I thought, well, you know, I’ll them and see if we can find some synergy.

Kate Scopetti: 26:47 And that one, since they had already been doing collaboration, as I mentioned with the music festival company. So, I mean, I think they were, are already doing these kinds of partnerships. So that one was pretty quick and easy. Um, some others, you know, have more maybe, uh, develop guidelines or parameters if they have to follow in terms of whether they, uh, agree to someone being an exclusive provider of an event per se. Um, so, uh, the cherry blossom festival is a little bit that way. We are able, we, we buy some extra, um, cherry blossom pens for everybody that comes in. And so we do some, some things that adds revenue for them. And we get, basically we get the premium blocks seats for the parade. Um, but to be their exclusive is a little bit more problematic. So what we did in that case is we create our events around it.

Kate Scopetti: 27:51 So we created, we call it, you know, our pinky events. And so we have a, uh, pink, uh, reception where we bring everybody through and we have, uh, actors. One is, one is for instance, ms. Cherry blossom. And she gives everybody a chocolate covered cherry on arrival. And we have about 10 different, uh, pink, uh, people, if you will. And they’re anywhere from a guitar player to, you know, minds, anything that you can think of. And so that’s kind of our opening event. And then we have a pink cruise on the Odyssey and we have a, the best pink contest wins. We have an emcee and that’s, it’s a huge amount of fun, and it’s hilarious. We kind of ham it up while we’re there. And then we put pink pompoms at the parade. So we do things that make it a little different. Um, so that’s what we’ve been doing with, uh, that particular partnership and collaboration, but how I open them up.

Kate Scopetti: 28:53 I think it’s, it’s just opening your mind to where the possibilities lie. For instance, we have, um, a company called GoPro performing as one of our brands. And, and that is obviously a company that, um, markets performance based tours. So we have students, some of them very talented that, um, want performance opportunities. So when we’re building out, um, things, we have one right now where we’re building a, um, festival for, um, students in March of next year, which we had to morph into more of a, of a day trip thing. But at any rate Boston brass, who’s pretty well known is one of the, um, the entertainers, but they’re also a bit clinicians that will be there. And so what we’re creating is an adult tour whereby they can have concerts by Boston breaths, uh, while they’re touring the Washington D C area. So we have putting our adult programming in marketing, in combination with our performance tour and company. And so we’ll, and we’ll continue to do that as we build out different conferences and, uh, clinics for our performance groups. And we’ll, we will kind of cherry pick the ones that are really the best performers in those groups to be the performers that we have for our adult groups.

Nicole Mahoney: 30:28 Yeah, I think that’s a really great, um, example, and I love this quote that you just, I wrote down as a quote, because you just said, if you open your mind, um, or you’re, you really need to open your mind to where possibilities lie. And it sounds to me like you’ve really, you know, mastered the art of that, of finding those possibilities and finding those opportunities. Um, and one thing that really striking to me as we’re talking is that, you know, somebody might look at that Memorial day parade and say, well, there’s no seating, so it’s not really group friendly, or I can’t sell it, but instead, you know, you really dig deeper and you say, but why can’t we, and, and really look for those, you know, relationships and how you can, how you can turn it into an opportunity. I think that’s a really great insight that our listeners are taking away from this. Well, it’s, you know what Nicola sinks at you,

Kate Scopetti: 31:25 You hit the nail on the head it’s by w but why can’t we, because, you know, I think it’s, you have to be inquisitive. And I’ll think that goes back even to the beginning of our conversation. When we’re talking about interviewing with the clients, you have to be inquisitive in everything you do, and you have to ask questions as you process, not just provide what you think are the answers, because obviously none of us have the answers unless we have the questions first. So, you know, I think that’s, that’s really paramount. I say that in the office a lot too, when, particularly in the operations team, they’ll, if they’re giving me a final itinerary to review, and if I don’t, if I don’t know that destination, like the back of my hand or that particular place, I’ll ask a lot of questions about it and they’ll say they don’t know. And, um, I say, well, how do you, how do you present it? If you don’t know, do you know where the buses drop off or do you know what, cause these are the questions that have gone through my mind if I don’t know. So I try to teach my team to be inquisitive because I think that’s how that’s really where success lies is to be inquisitive about this so that we are providing, um, not just these great collaborative products, but also top, um, service level to our customers.

Nicole Mahoney: 33:00 Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s, uh, that’s really great advice as well, be inquisitive and, and what wonderful perspective for you to, uh, teach your team, but also that you just taught our listeners, which is really that you don’t have the answers unless you know, what the questions are first and, and, uh, I think that’s really great insight, right? So Kate, I was thinking also, as you’re talking about all of these collaborations, and you’re talking about all of the, you know, the cherry blossom festival and the Memorial day parade and all of these things that have also been impacted because of the pandemic and what was, what started to kind of bubble up for me is that I kind of see the recovery also is this one big collaboration, like you’re, you know, you working to help them recover is they’re helping you, uh, through the recovery. Have you thought much about, you know, how we all emerge together? Really.

Kate Scopetti: 34:00 Absolutely. And again, that’s in the questions in the communication, right? We’re all learning as we go with this thing every day. And we all, we all see things change almost every day. So I think that making, you know, education and communication, for instance, we don’t necessarily know when some places planning to open. I mean, we may know what the general, um, phases and the specific destination, but we don’t know, um, what each specific, uh, supply, or like a restaurant or a museum or anything, what, what their real guidelines are and what they’re going to be open and how many people they’ll accommodate. And what does group group visit look like now? Um, so, you know, we want that information, um, to come to us so that we’re able to, even as we’re coming into some tours, now they’re difficult to manage because things are changing and we have to have a new conversation, you know, with every place that the group group is going to, to understand the best way for that our group to visit that particular place.

Kate Scopetti: 35:18 So I think collaboration for us to learn from each other about what’s working, what they’re seeing in terms of communication with their clients, um, are, are their products changing? Are we, are we making our products different or are we, are we listening to what the clients want and then making it different? Just see what I mean. I think sometimes we tied a self-educate ourselves thinking or anticipating what people are gonna want to have without really knowing what people really want to have. So I’ve, I’ve been communicating more now, obviously because we have more time, but, uh, but just so that when we come out of this, that we can have, um, that top of the mind awareness that I was speaking of and have a lot of new, interesting product that clients will, will be, we hope, uh, you know, clamoring to get at.

Nicole Mahoney: 36:22 Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s a really good point as well. Uh, of course we’re all, you know, thinking about, you know, what the reopening guidelines are, you know, the phases, but then the individual, as you mentioned, uh, attractions, restaurants, suppliers are taking all that and making their own internal, uh, you know, changes, um, based on that guidance. And then it’s a matter of you taking that and then being able to communicate that back through your clients. And so that’s a really interesting way to think about it because on the one hand, we’re being driven by guidelines and reopening phases and, uh, you know, all of that, but then we still have to think about what does the customer really want and you know, what kind of experience are they expecting, um, which is also changing.

Kate Scopetti: 37:15 Yup. That is absolutely correct. And now it’s interesting because we are going through it, you know, that’s some people, but you know, this, this whole mask discussion, you know, some people are saying they don’t want to go on a tour. If they have to wear a mask everywhere they go, and other people are saying, well, I’m not going to go unless masks, you know, so it’s kind of hard to address. You have to really come up with a policy that you feel is the best policy because, uh, you know, and just let them know and they either agree with it or don’t right. Yeah. The only way we can proceed. Right.

Nicole Mahoney: 37:55 Right. Exactly. Yeah. Um, well I was just reading some data from a recent, um, traveler sentiment study and it said something like 60 or 65% of travelers say that they will not go to a destination unless there is a mandatory mask requirement, uh, within that destination. So yeah. You know, and that might change too. I mean, these things change, like you said, almost daily sometimes, but

Kate Scopetti: 38:19 Yeah. I think that’s a good thing though, that that’s on the increase, so

Nicole Mahoney: 38:24 Yeah, absolutely.

Kate Scopetti: 38:26 Well late, but you know, whatever

Nicole Mahoney: 38:31 Better, late than never. That’s what they say. Well, thank you so much for this conversation. It’s been really great and I really appreciate you being so open and sharing so much with us. Um, before we say goodbye, can you just share with our listeners where they might be able to connect with you? And then also if you have any final parting words that you would like to share?

Kate Scopetti: 38:59 Sure. Um, they can connect with me via email at Mars, like the planet, M a R or they can call me in the office by four Oh eight six, nine, 1864. And I’m at extension one, one six. And the one thing that I would like to share, um, Nicole, before we, we close for today is, um, one of my most, I think this, this new brand of tours that I’m creating, that I’m very passionate about. That’s come out based on current events and things that are going on. And that, that name of that brand will be shout out for change tours of social significance and healing. Our nation, I think, needs to heal and unify, and I I’m compelled to facility and encourage that process. So these tours will, um, promote communication and shared personal experiences to help create a better understanding between race and economic and educational disparities so that we truly can become a nation for all people. And I’m working on one right now, uh, on Washington DC. And unfortunately had to cancel a trip to Alabama that I was working on where we’re collaborating with people. There’s that word again, to, um, people that have these personal experiences in different walks of life could be, teachers, could be, farmers, could be, uh, freedom fighters. Um, but we want to immerse people in that so that they actually can begin to understand at communicate and heal. I, uh, I love that

Nicole Mahoney: 40:50 And what a great way to take action, um, you know, and for you to use your, your talents right. To help, you know, to help create this change. I think that’s just fantastic. And I love that you have that new brand, um, definitely sounds like something I’d even want to sign up for.

Kate Scopetti: 41:11 There you go. I’ll send you the first one off the breath. I’m very passionate about it. I’m very excited about it. And the hope is to be able to create a product in a lot of different destinations, um, about a lot of different peoples, but instead of going through that area and learning it from a guide, we actually have communication with members

Nicole Mahoney: 41:34 Of those communities. And that’s how we learn. I mean, that’s the magic of travel, right? That’s it? Yeah. Is that being able to see and learn from people in different parts of our own country or in different parts of the world? So I think that’s really amazing and I love that you’re bringing that forward. Very exciting. So we have to hurry up and reopen so you can start selling those. Yes, please. That’s right. I want to sign up tomorrow. That’s awesome. Well, thank you so much. Cadence spend so much fun talking to you. I enjoyed it very much. I hope everyone that’s listening did as well. Thank you for listening all the way to the end of this week’s episode. This gives me a chance to tell you about our weekly. I see. Why am I in case you missed it? Easy newsletter each week, along with our podcast episode, we share an article written by one of the break, the ice media team members about the travel and tourism industry, our articles mirror, the mix of industry segments and topics similar to this podcast to join our newsletter text D O T L two six six eight six six, or visit break the ice forward slash blog.

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