Our writers share an in-depth look at the "who's who" of group travel leaders, business owners and suppliers.
Groups Today is proud to introduce a selection of people with an impressive creative spirit and entrepreneurial nature.
Bill Shepler is the CEO of Shepler's Mackinac Ferry, a family-owned business that recently celebrated 70 years in operation. Shepler's father introduced him to the charter boating industry; later, he recognized the need for high-speed boats, thus beginning their specialized service on the Great Lakes.
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.
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.
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.