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It's All About Technology and Golf @ the 2000 Michigan Tourism Conference
By Jennie McCafferty

BELLAIRE -- Are you planning your next golfing vacation? Travel Michigan and the Michigan tourism industry have teamed up on the World Wide Web to make planning a breeze.

Michigan's Convention & Visitors Bureaus travel publishers, and other players in Michigan's tourism industry convened for two days at Shanty Creek Resort in Bellaire to share in the succes of the Michigan tourism industry and to strategize for 1001.

Travel Michigan's Vice President, Susy Avery, who thinks as fast as technology changes, introduced conference goers to the world of travel and the Web. Susy and her staff are using the tools of the New Economy to keep Michigan the Midwest's number one travel destination.

Golf is a key strategic component of Travel Michigan's plans for 2001. Susy introduced the new Web and golf strategy to WJR listeners in May: "Travel Michigan has decided to be a Web-based organization, one of the first in the state ever to do that. Of course one of our premier things is golf and we promote the heck out of it in the state. We've got the best golf in the world right here in Michigan."

Governor John Engler concurs. "Northern Michigan was recently ranked 12th among Golf Digest's 50 Greatest Golf Destinations in the World," reminded Governor Engler to the Michigan travel industry in his introductory letter.

Why the Web? Dave Morris, Travel Michigan's Director of Marketing Planning and Research, explained. The Web has the information that users want: locations, rates, descriptions of attractions, details with pictures, maps, and driving directions. Travelers want printable stuff to take and links to more stuff. Not only that, they want it twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week and they want it now. The days of calling for a brochure and waiting six weeks for it to arrive are numbered. Dave's research indicates a four-part process in planning vacation travel. First, planners choose their destination. Once they know where they are going, the second step is to go to the Web for the details of available lodging, rates, attractions, special packages, sales and discounts. This information is accessible and available immediately on the Web. Next, they make final arrangements, often using the phone. Finally, they return to the Web for on-the-road information.

So what do Travel Michigan folks have to help us plan? They have created www.michigan.org, your Michigan travel planner and travel portal. You can search by interest (golf, accommodations, tourism packages), by season, or by location (regional, county, city). Once your search returns a result, you can add a topic to your on-line vacation planner. Your planner includes descriptions, phone numbers, maps, driving directions, attractions, rates and a link to a terrific weather site (www.michiganwx.com). As you browse, you can check your planner at any point and add or remove locations or attractions. For example, a search for "Mackinaw City golf" returned a list of golf courses in the area, a list of lodging, and the contact for the Mackinaw City Convention and Visitors Bureau.

When the Internet and the Web are causing enormous changes in the travel industry, what better lunchtime speaker than Richard Snyder, Chairman of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation? Snyder turned typical business assumptions upside down as he discussed how to be successful in a changing environment. "Continuously improve; reinvent yourself, rebuild your organization. Build an attitude of success," he said. "Contentment is the enemy. Contentment is worse than being in trouble. Being in trouble means you will act." Snyder reminded the group that "Change is part of the world; it's not a value judgement. It's a simple fact rather than right or wrong."

Rich Wiggins, cohost of the television program, North Coast Digital and author, The Internet for Everyone: A Guide for Users and Providers, demystified the Web and Web marketing environments in two useful sessions.

Any discussion of the tools of the New Economy needs the word from Silicon Valley. San Francisco's Dr. James Canton of the Institute for Global Futures (futureguru.com) brought those words to the conference's closing dinner. Dr. Canton advises Fortune 1000 clients on the strategic impact of leading-edge technologies. "The telephone took 38 years to reach as many users as the Web reached in less than six years. In those six years, the Web has become the key gateway for information," said Dr. Canton.

Michigan's travel industry already knows that; click on Travel Michigan's www.michigan.org to see for yourself and to plan your Michigan golfing vacation.

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