CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The tourism industry "isn't an instant gratification business," said one destination representative at Monday's Travel South Showcase marketplace.
"It takes several years to see a turnaround, because planning group tours is kind of like working retail," said Anne Ross, of Morristown Area Convention and Visitors Bureau in Tennessee. "They're already gathering information for their 2015 season at this show."
The Travel South Showcase is an annual tourism event that brings together industry professionals for networking and promotion of destinations throughout the southeastern United States. Travel South USA is made of representatives from 11 states: Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia.
Kara Barnes, sales manager of group tours at Oglebay Resort and Conference Center in Wheeling, said this is the first year she has attended Travel South. These regional showcases are often more helpful for smaller destinations, Barnes said.
"Other shows you go to, [tour operators] are looking at maybe New York or D.C. -- the larger areas -- where here, they actually want to come and visit your property."
Barnes was showcasing Oglebay's Festival of Lights -- the 6-mile annual Christmas event for which it is known -- while also promoting the resort's warm weather offerings, such as its garden tours.
"That's something we're trying to grow for the spring and summer seasons, to try to let people know that we're not just lights," Barnes said.
The push will take some time -- Barnes said promoting those spring and summer activities has been a priority for the last two or three years, making sure Oglebay is "a four-season property instead of a Festival of Lights property."