Destination Directory

profile

profile

  • Bringing People Together

    Jane Tougouma | Group Tour Sales Manager, Destination Cleveland

    A "boomerang," Jane Tougouma returned to Cleveland from Los Angeles and found love in more ways than one. "Traveling is my passion and planning tours for others is my pleasure, especially sharing the unexpected gem that is Cleveland." She joined Destination Cleveland in 2010, serves on the ABA Marketplace Advisory Committee and is CVB co-chair liaison of the ABA 2017 Host Advisory Committee. Her personal travels have included visits to West Africa, Republic of Georgia, Japan and Iceland.

  • Dea Hoover and Declan Rutan: Are We There Yet?

    Dea Hoover, a 2015 Groups Today Innovator of the Year, founded Are We There Yet? LLC, which she runs with her husband, Declan Rutan, a 2015 Groups Today Top 10 Next Gen. Dea is also the third owner of Discover St. Louis, a Woman Owned Business Enterprise she's developed into a full-service receptive tour company. Dea and Declan plan, operate and lead all Are We There Yet? tours—across the country and the globe—and have traveled to all of the United States and 12 countries.

  • Experiential Excellence

    "Growing up in a rural Pennsylvania town, I often wondered what it would be like to see the sun set over the Pacific Ocean or hear the chime of Big Ben," said Nathan A. Claycomb, Business Development Manager, Sight & Sound Theatres®.

  • Helping People Live Happy, Full Lives

    Ryan Alsup | Manager, Tourism Development, Visit Anaheim

    Ryan Alsup manages tourism efforts for domestic, Mexico and Australia consumer/travel trade markets. Most recently, he served as a group sales manager at the Red Lion Hotel in Anaheim, overseeing the tour and travel and Social, Military, Educational, Religious, Fraternal (SMERF) markets. Previously, Ryan worked as the outside sales representative for Catalina Express, promoting Catalina Island through sales and marketing platforms targeted at consumers, in addition to tour and travel professionals.

  • Industry Trailblazers

    Those with years in the travel industry have faced big changes and incredible challenges.

  • Leader in the Field

    Roger Dudley, CTA, Senior Tourism Sales Manager at Experience Columbus, was recently named Ohio Travel Association's Emerging Leader. Roger, who has been with Experience Columbus since 2013, shared with Groups Today how he got involved in the group tour industry, and how he's grown his career since graduating from Bowling Green State University in 2006.

  • Making Experiences a Reality

    After 10 years of teaching at Harlem Children's Zone (New York) and DSST (Denver), Ryan Sparzak discovered that a learning environment based on values, service and experiences outside of the school are vital to a well-rounded education for all students. In Ryan's current role, he and his team develop company culture and educational trips around certain values, as well as innovative service partnerships with schools so students will take informed action now and in the future.

  • Robin Parker: Bringing Joy

    Robin Parker has spent nearly three decades in the student travel industry. When she graduated college in 1977, there were few jobs in her health and physical education major—just one opening for every 500 applicants. She was making $6,000 a year, working full time for a Catholic school, when a college friend mentiond his job as a tour director for a Pennsylvania company. He thought it would be a good fit for Parker; she needed other work to help survive.

  • The Allure of the Exotic

    Jessica Pociask | Owner/Expedition Guide, WANT Expeditions

    With hundreds of expeditions and 80 countries under her belt, Jessica Pociask is considered the most "adventurous woman in travel." From guiding travelers up a volcano to view an active lava lake in Congo (Virunga), to crossing the Greenland ice sheet via dogsled, Jessica's field experience is unparalleled. Her awards include 50 Tours of a Lifetime from National Geographic, DC Modern Luxury's Brightest Entrepreneur's Under 40, and being declared "your tour guide for crazy destinations" by the Washington Post.

  • The Future is Bright!

    Stephanie Lucas, CTIS, TMP | Group Tourism Manager | Visit Charlotte

    Stephanie Lucas' love of tourism and travel shines through in her community work. She's active on several community nonprofit boards, including Carolinas Student Travel Connection, where she serves as president, and the Carolina Raptor Center Board, on which she's Chair of Programs. She connects her partners to build packages for visitors to maximize their Charlotte experience. "I love sending people to the local flavor and showing off the unique attractions in the Charlotte region."

  • Travel Love, Colleagues and Intrigue

    Jackie Antonucci | Sales & Marketing Manager, Hard Rock Cafe Philadelphia | Co-founder, Party Partners of Philadelphia

    Jackie Antonucci celebrates 12 years with Hard Rock Cafe Philadelphia, as of January 2016. She co-founded Party Partners of Philadelphia, a powerful group of women in the hospitality industry. She works closely with the CVB and consistently travels for sales calls and trade shows to drive new business into the venue. Jackie volunteers on the SYTA board committee for 2016. She attends Arcadia University, studying for her MBA with a global perspective and graduating in May.

  • Where is Your Next Adventure?

    Kaycee Sanford | Travel Specialist, Group Travel Network

    Kaycee Sanford is a proud alumnus of the Rosen College of Hospitality Management at the University of Central Florida. While studying Event Management in college, she accepted an internship at Group Travel Network and fell in love with the industry. After graduation in 2013, she accepted a full-time position and is working on the logistics side of Student Tourism. Kaycee enjoys planning each customized group package and attending tradeshows such as SYTA and FMEA.

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Wine Tasting Code Words

My wife is one of the most polite people you could ever meet. Whether this is due to her upbringing, an aspect of her demeanor, or just her go-to behavior, she is polite to a fault. This materializes itself in often unexpected places: She lets the neighborhood kids have first go at the biggest, ripest blackberries that grow on our fence; she feels compelled to listen to the full pitch when eating the food samples at our local price club; she turns shades of blush if anyone in our party offers criticism of a winery's offerings in front of the person pouring. After all, if you don't have something nice to say ...