Creating a Destination Program for Group Tours & Meetings

How this Case Study may be relevant to you: This project required us to build a group tour and meetings program for a destination from scratch. Over the 8 years of work on the initiative, each one saw year-over-year increases in bookings and visitor spending.

The 2019 program brought over $500,000 in visitor spending and over 2,000 room nights.

Photo Credit: Cayuga County
Photo Credit: Cayuga County

Situational Analysis

When new accommodations and attractions signaled a growth of tourism assets, the Cayuga County Office of Tourism wanted to expand its tourism outreach into an untapped market by reaching out to group tour operators and meeting planners. Cayuga County came to Break the Ice Media to help them tap into the groups and meetings market and increase the travel and tourism dollars spent in the area -- a program that required building from ground-zero.

The Challenge

Build a program that is an economic generator, attracting meetings and groups business for multi-day trips by focusing direct sales activities that support ongoing marketing efforts.

As a completely new effort, every part of the program – strategies, metrics, tools and tactics needed to be identified and created.

Photo Credit: Cayuga County
Photo Credit: Cayuga County


  • Create a Group Tour and Meetings program that brought positive economic impact for Cayuga County.
  • Build stakeholder awareness of the group tour market and how to work with group tour operators.
  • Position Cayuga County as a wonderful and welcoming group tour destination.

Strategic Insight

Relationships & Experiences

Our strategy focused on building relationships with and between stakeholders and group tour operators while positioning Cayuga County as a welcoming community with pride in their accommodations and attractions.

We also demonstrated the experiences and leveraged tourism assets that offered group experiences synonymous with the Finger Lakes region of New York State.


Photo Credit: Cayuga County

Strategic Approach

  • Leveraged existing product to showcase group tour opportunities.
  • Created relationships with tour operators and stakeholders to help build awareness and audience.
  • Created itineraries and hosted FAM tours to support Cayuga County group tour experiences.
  • Created metrics and reporting mechanism to measure program’s success.
  • Created and utilized collateral to provide tangible information sources for follow up conversations.
  • Created a lead nurturing tool for continuous communications and product awareness.
  • Identified and utilized a CRM that met the needs of the program.
Photo Credit: Cayuga County
Photo Credit: Cayuga County

Program Elements:

  • Strategic Planning
  • Marketing Support
  • Direct Sales
  • Plan Execution and Reporting


  • Attend travel trade shows
  • Lead nurturing and direct follow up
  • Publish and send a monthly Groups Tour e-newsletter
  • Publish and send a quarterly Meetings e-newsletter
  • Produce and host FAM tours
  • Host site visits
  • Produce and lead stakeholder group tour education seminars
  • Track overnight bookings by month
  • Attend Cayuga County Tourism Board meetings


Results Highlights

The 2019 program brought over $500,000 in visitor spending and over 2,000 room nights.

The program ran for 8 years and every year there was an increase in bookings and visitor spending.


Photo Credit: John Kucko

Result Highlights

  • Attended 3-5 travel trade shows annually
  • Produced and hosted 1-2 group FAM tours annually
  • Produced and led 2 stakeholder education seminars
  • Wrote, designed and sent 12 monthly e-newsletters to group tour operators every year
  • Wrote, designed and sent 4 quarterly e-newsletters to meeting planners every year
  • Grew CRM to 1,500 contacts
  • Grew digital mailing list to 9,800 contacts
  • Secured an average of 14 group tours annually