Random thoughts from a busy week of being on the road and attending a regional tourism conference.

• The more time I spend in Alabama the more I like it. In addition to driving through much of the state, I have now spent time in Birmingham, Montgomery and Huntsville. The three cities are quite different from each other and I thoroughly enjoyed all of them. If you have never been to Alabama you may be surprised to know that the northern part is very scenic with mountains, lakes and great outdoor recreation. One thing the entire state has in common from the mountains to the Gulf of Mexico is friendly people.

• It's great to see politicians who truly understand the importance of travel and tourism and how it works. The Governor of Georgia was at the conference I attended. He spoke enthusiastically about what tourism means to his state. He even referenced Movie & TV Tourism, which is a niche market that local DMOs are attuned to while most Governors are more interested in the bottom line. I like to think that our Governor here in Virginia is a true believer. After all, travel is the 5th largest private employer in Virginia.

• While at the Southeast Tourism Society Fall Forum, one of our wonderful clients won an award for Best Marketing. Actually, the Best Marketing category was divided into three awards based on the size of the budget. It's an eminently fair way to judge the work. A campaign for a rural county with a population of 5,000 should not be judged against the marketing campaign of Orlando or Nashville. Our client happened to be in the smallest of the three budget categories. I did, however, get an opportunity to see the work of the winners in the other two larger budget categories. It's great work to be sure. I still think that our work was just as good and that our creative team stacks up equally to the other winners. That makes me proud.

• Best news of all even though it has nothing to do with the conference I attended is that the great Warren Miller has published his autobiography. Who is Warren Miller, you ask? He is a godfather of action-sports movie making. He started filming skiers at Sun Valley, Idaho, in 1949. Since then he has filmed the world best (and craziest) skiers in every exotic location around the world. To me, the highlights of his movies are not the legends on skis or the cool venues that I will only see in the movies. It’s his dry wit, his passion for the sport, his unmistakable narration and some pretty crazy stories. Like the time he was skiing with former presidential candidate Jack Kemp and astronauts Alan Shepard and Scott Carpenter. A lift attendant asked one of those guys to take a photo of himself with the legendary Warren Miller. He’s 91 now and not skiing quite as much. I can’t wait to read his book.


6 Walnut Avenue • Vinton, Virginia 24179

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