Dan Gleason went to the University of Northern Iowa for a degree in leisure, youth, and human services. Little did he know, the internship he took with the Quad Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau would become his stomping ground for many more years to come.
Moving up through the ranks, Dan became the office manager. He then transitioned into the sales department, and six years later moved into his current position as the director of sales.
"I love having the opportunity to do different things and work with so many amazing people," Dan said. "On an average day, I create itineraries for group tour operators and work to sell the Quad Cities as a top-notch destination for group travel. I love being able to work with all different types of groups."
Although Dan kind of fell into the travel industry, his passion for it is palpable. Through his thirst to learn from those who have gone before him, he advises that anyone looking to work in the travel industry should take time to listen and learn from industry professionals. He also recommends picking up the phone and getting to know your clients. Although e-mail is a great form of communication, you can lose that personal touch.
"Knowing the needs of your clients and being able to relate to them is going to make them excited about your destination and make the sales process a lot easier," Dan said. "Happy passengers make for a happy group tour planner. If you take care of the passengers, it looks good for your destination and also the group travel leader. By assisting the group travel leader on creating the best tour possible, it helps them attract repeat customers, which then, in fact, can help you get repeat business back to your destination."
Recently, Dan and the team at Quad Cities CVB have been working on creating more brewery and distillery tours and music venues to draw younger groups. He says that just like the next gens, everyone needs to be more open-minded in order to try new things and find out your clients' interests. "If you want to reach out and get in with the younger generational traveler," he said, "you have to go in one hundred percent, commit, and show that you are willing to work with them."
Although he is a next gen, Dan looks forward to seeing how the future plays out as he continues building his passion and commitment to the travel industry. "I really love this industry and the people I work with. I look forward to the day when I can mentor the next generation of travel industry professionals, as well as learn from them."
Dan Gleason was nominated as one of the Top Ten Next Gens in the January 2014 issue of Groups Today magazine. Click here to learn more about the Top Ten and stay tuned to our website for more in-depth profiles on these innovative people in the group travel industry.
Know a group travel professional making an impact on the industry with a fresh, progressive perspective? Nominate him or her for 2017's Top 10 Next Gen here.