Well, I am back in Chicago with my Canadian product manager, for a couple of days in preparation for the launch of our 2010 tour program. The brochures are readying for the printers, and it is certainly a nerve-wracking time of year! All of the choices, settling on about thirty tours out of the hundreds that are available across Canada, have been made, the images for the brochure picked, the website sharpened and the mailing lists are ready to go.
This is the high-risk end of the travel business. We invest heavily in product development, production and distribution of our programs and the only source of income comes from our clients around the world buying our tours. If we picked right, and the itineraries we chose hit the spot, we will sell between 800 and 1000 passengers on our Canadian tours. If we chose wrong, then our investment may turn against us.
I have been doing this for over thirty years now, and so far have been reasonably successful. The world is changing fast now, however, and trying to keep ahead of the curve can be difficult.
At the same time as we launch our Canadian program, we are readying a new Iceland tour series to offer in conjunction with the new Iceland Express flight between Winnipeg and Reykjavík. Once again, pick right, and the children have new shoes; pick wrong, and it is a year before we have another shot at it.
And so to Chicago to meet with the Canadian Tourism Commission office and a few travel companies that have sold our tours in the past; I don’t actually need much urging to come here, it really is one of my favourite cities in the world, but I have been on the road a lot recently, and would like to spend a little time at home.
However, all work and no play would make Max extremely dull, and so we have taken advantage of being here to eat wonderfully (really, the overly generous Texas de Brazil is a fabulous restaurant), and listen to the blues again. Last night to Blue Chicago, and although it was a Monday night, and there were only about fifteen or so in the audience, we were treated to a really good evening’s music.
And then this afternoon, I had a chance to visit the Driehaus Museum. Observant readers will recall that I tried to visit this museum ten days ago, and was questioning the value of the $25 entry fee. Well, among those seeing the blog was Jeanine Riedl, the museum’s visitor services coordinator, and she, most generously encouraged me to visit on my next trip to the Windy City.
And so I did today; the house is possibly the most sumptuous dwelling I have ever seen, although one has to say that the word “cosy” hardly springs to mind. It is an eye-popping extravaganza of marble, rich hardwoods, fabulous fabrics and a collection of statuary that ranged from classic to, shall we say, thought-provoking. I loved it! And the answer to the question of value is a resounding “yes”; the museum is quirky, fascinating and a brilliant diversion for anyone lucky enough to be a tourist in Chicago.