TIAK Board Spotlight May 2022


Our May board member spotlights feature folks from Great Bend and Rooks County! Read more below and be sure to say hello at a future TIAK event.

Be sure to check back monthly as we shine the spotlight on other members of the board throughout the year.

Christina Hayes, Director – City of Great Bend Convention & Visitors Bureau

What do you love most about working in the tourism industry?

I love being able to promote the communities that I love and help families create memories in our wonderful state!

Tell us a little fun fact about yourself?

I love gardening and make an average of 98 big jars of salsa each summer!

Best tip for a new member of TIAK?

Don’t be afraid to ask questions and make suggestions and be willing to help, cause it’s fun!

Favorite book, movie, music, food or vacation?

I love almost all music, all food, and love ANY vacation in the sun!

Anything else you’d like to share?

I’m a proud mom of an 11 year old boy who loves football, baseball and being a boy mom is the BEST JOB EVER!!!

Roger Hrabe, Director – Rooks County Economic Development

What do you love most about working in the tourism industry?

The thing I love most about working in the tourism industry is the people.  Tourism people are so fun to be around and are always looking to have a good time.  I used to teach Geography, so I also really enjoy traveling and seeing new places and historic attractions.

Tell us a little fun fact about yourself?

I have visited over 50 micro breweries and collected coasters from most all of them.  Someday I will have a shirt with all of them on it.  It will look like a refrigerator at a brewery.  I was also Homecoming King at Plainville HS in … a couple years ago.

Best tip for a new member of TIAK?

Get to know as many TIAK members as possible and stay after hours.

Favorite book, movie, music, food or vacation?

I have had some great trips, but my favorite was visiting a classmate in Europe.  We traveled to Venice, Rome, Paris and Geneva.  But what I enjoy the most is sitting by the stream and having a glass of wine at a rental cabin in Estes Park, CO.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I always look forward to meeting with all my TIAK and Tourism friends and helping promote the great state of Kansas! To The Stars!!!

TIAK Board Spotlight

Beyond the boardroom, there’s a lot of work that goes into keeping TIAK a well-respected and impeccably running association. While our staff, Natalie, Marlee, and Amy keep things going on a daily basis and surely make the board member roles easier, we want to give a big shout out to our board of directors for the tireless efforts and support they lend to this association, their own communities, and the tourism industry!

Let’s take a look at two of our board members who hail from tourism roles in Olathe and Coffeyville with this TIAK Board Q&A.

Be sure to check back monthly as we shine the spotlight on other members of the board throughout the year.

Allison Calvin, Destination Services Manager – Olathe Convention & Visitors Bureau

What do you love most about working in the tourism industry?

Traveling has always been a hobby of mine, so when I had the opportunity to promote Olathe, the KC metro, and our beautiful state, it was a dream come true!  I have really enjoyed taking my knowledge from my Travel, Tourism, & Hospitality Management degree and growing tourism in our state.

Tell us a little fun fact about yourself?

I played college soccer in Florida and professionally played the piano for 5 years!

Best tip for a new member of TIAK?

Make connections and don’t be afraid to ask questions!

Favorite book, movie, music, food or vacation?

Favorite food- sushi, favorite vacation- Disney World

Anything else you’d like to share?

I am the NEKS rep on the TIAK board and have enjoyed promoting NEKS and our beautiful state!

Amy Dollar, Tourism Director – Visit Coffeyville

What do you love most about working in the tourism industry?

The ability to learn, teach, promote and preserve history.

Tell us a little fun fact about yourself?

I love history!

Best tip for a new member of TIAK?

I am new myself, but everyone is welcoming and informative.

Favorite book, movie, music, food or vacation?

Favorite book – Rebecca



On your way to KDS? Five tips to help you get there by conference 2021!

Are you just mere steps away from obtaining your Kansas Destination Specialist designation? Maybe you have a book report to complete, or need to visit an attraction and write a quick report—click here to see where you’re at in the KDS journey!

Make 2021 the year that you go from seeking your KDS to joining the ranks of others who have earned this state-wide designation for tourism professionals. Let’s take a peek at certification requirements as a quick refresher (keep in mind this is not a renewal year, so only new KDS seekers are being awarded in October).

  • Earn 25 points by attending education conferences, seminars, webinars, trainings, etc. Points accumulate as follows: half point for webinar or seminar; one point for half-day session; two points for full-day session; and three points for two or more days. TIAK events are automatically awarded credit. For all other educational events, candidate must submit the Education Session Follow-up Form within the same year as the event was conducted.
  • Read and complete three book reports – one from each category. Categories include: Kansas, Marketing and Leadership. Click here to see the approved reading list!
  • Visit a Kansas attraction, 50+ miles from home, and submit the visiting attraction form. Earn one point for each attraction.

Here’s five tips to help you finish up those last requirements so you can call yourself a Kansas Destination Specialist this year!

  • Know where you stand and what is left to complete your designation.
  • Set aside time each week to finish each task, or if you need to visit an attraction more than 50 miles away, plan the day you’ll go and make a day-trip out of it! Take notes while you’re visiting so writing your report is easier. And, write that report ASAP when everything is still familiar!
  • Now that in-person meetings and events are mostly back in person, seek out potential trainings or seminars that could count toward your designation.
  • While there are dozens of book titles on the approved reading list, if you see one that falls into any of the categories, but isn’t on the list, just send the title, a brief summary and ask if it can be considered. Most of the time, it will be approved!
  • You’d be surprised at how fast those points can add up if you take advantage of all the TIAK and state tourism offerings hosted throughout the year. Destination Statehouse and the annual conference automatically count if you attend those events. Find a few more training options in travel, tourism, leadership or Kansas-centered topics, and you’ll be well on your way to KDS!

Celebrating National Travel & Tourism Week!

National Travel & Tourism Week is well underway. Be sure to share your photos and activities with office@tiak.org and let us know how you are showcasing your community.

“Donut underestimate the Power of Travel!”

Visit Kansas City, Kansas Director, Alan Carr, delivered donuts to the Wyandotte County delegation in honor of National Travel & Tourism Week.


National Tourism Week Across Kansas

National Tourism Week Across Kansas

May 2-8, 2021 marks the 38th annual National Tourism Week (NTW) celebration. It’s a time when travel and tourism professionals across the country unite to celebrate the value travel holds for our economy, businesses and personal well-being.

While NTW celebrations were held virtually in 2020 as travel buckled under the growing rise in Covid cases, this year we are hopeful that this industry is taking a turn for the better. As such, we are proud to be a part of the #PowerOfTravel and know that our Kansas communities play an essential role in rebuilding our industry and the U.S. economy.

Let’s take a peek at the monumental impact travel has on the Kansas economy:

  • $7.3 billion was spent by 36.5 million visitors to Kansas in 2019
  • Visitor spending has increased $775 million since 2015
  • 15¢ of each visitor dollar is spent in a Kansas retail store
  • A traveler is worth $200 per day to Kansas
  • Overnight visitors represent 40% of all visits to Kansas
  • $613 million in new capital investment for tourism projects
  • 66,007 direct tourism jobs in Kansas
  • Each Kansas household would be taxed an additional $600 to replace the tax revenue generated by tourism

Source: Economic Impact of Tourism in Kansas 2019, Tourism Economics

To celebrate this important industry and take part in NTW activities across the U.S., here’s a quick glance at what some Kansas communities are doing during National Tourism Week!

Kansas City, KS: Visit Kansas City Kansas plans to share information and statistics on the power of tourism via social outlets the week of April 26. Then throughout National Tourism Week, they will be posting spotlights on various industry partners linking back to a blog on their website. The blog and spotlights will feature ways our partners pivoted and saw community support in 2020, and what they are looking forward to with travel coming back in 2021. Lastly, they will be delivering donuts to various partners and stakeholders throughout the week of NTW, with stats on tourism’s impact on KCK/Kansas and a note that says something similar to, “Donut underestimate the Power of Travel!”

Shawnee, KS: Lt. Governor David Toland is the invited guest speaker at Visit Shawnee’s “Turn the Page” Celebration of National Travel & Tourism Week on Thursday, May 13, 2021, at the Pavilion at Theatre in the Park, 7710 Renner Road.

Olathe, KS: Join the Olathe Chamber of Commerce as we celebrate tourism week virtually through a networking coffee.  Meet our chamber members and hear about how tourism impacts our community on Thursday, May 6 at 9am.  For more information and the zoom link, visit olathe.org.

Merriam, KS: The Passport to Merriam will launch during National Tourism Week, inviting locals and visitors to #ExploreMerriam. In addition, the Visitors Bureau will be making special deliveries to front line hospitality workers to thank them for their tireless efforts in serving guests to Merriam.

Trego County: It’s time to hit the road to explore Trego County and join the 36 million tourists who visit our state each year! This May 2-8, we’ll be celebrating National Travel & Tourism Month. Tourism is a vital piece of the Kansas economy, supporting 66K jobs and contributing $7.3 billion to the state’s economy, a $775 million increase since 2015! We believe our residents are our best ambassadors, so we’ve created the #TourTrego challenge to help spread the word about all the great things to see and do in Trego County. It’s a fun, interactive way for you to enjoy our county by sharing your best selfies on your Facebook page along with the hashtag “#TourTrego.” Each time you do, your name will be entered in a drawing for $50 in Wampum bucks to spend at one of WaKeeney’s businesses. We’ve put together a list of the most popular places to explore around our county to help you get started. Click here for more information on how you can #TourTrego.

Council Grove, KS: While not officially during tourism week, Council Grove is gearing up to celebrate the Santa Fe Trail 200th! The Historic Preservation Corporation and Trail Days Historic Site will be presenting a Santa Fe Trail 200 event on Sunday September 12, at 2:00 p.m. in the Council Grove High School Auditorium.  Slawomir Dobrzanski, chair of the Keyboard Department of Kansas State University, will be presenting “Amazing Classical Music on the Santa Fe Trail” related to the 1861 Rawlinson-Terwilliger stone home, a Certified Historic Site and Interpretive Site on the Santa Fe National Historic Trail. The music will include a classical version of “Home on the Range,” authentic Native American music, and music from the 1800s played in ethnic countries of the early settlers who built and lived in the stone home and who represent the ethnic foods served in the Trail Days Café & Museum. Call: (620)767-7986 for reservations. Seats are $15.00 each and proceeds go to the Trail Days Historic Site projects.

If you’re not sure how to participate in National Tourism Week, it’s easy! Here’s a few ideas:

  • Share social media posts on tourism’s impact in your community!
  • Host a giveaway of locally made products for visitors stopping by your local chamber, visitors’ bureau or city hall.
  • Invite local elected officials for coffee while you discuss how tourism benefits your destination.
  • Ask your Mayor or Council to issue a proclamation to officially recognize May 2-8, 2021 as National Travel and Tourism Week.
  • Create an itinerary for a weekend getaway in your destination and invite employees, local residents and visitors to suggest their favorites. Highlight each location throughout the week on social media channels.

To learn more about the history and importance of National Tourism Week, visit www.ustravel.org.

21 in 2021 – 21 ways to get more involved in tourism this year!

21 in 2021 — 21 ways to get more involved in tourism this year!

graphic about 21 in 2021

Let’s just get it out of the way. 2020 was awful. Our industry (and many others) suffered one of the worst downturns most of us can recall, and the entire world was gripped by fear, loss and uncertainty. We won’t be looking back at 2020 fondly, but we certainly can take away many lessons from it. We’ll have to push forward with perseverance, grit and determination to create a better year ahead. But, Kansans are always up to the task! As an industry, let’s start with how we can resolve to better support tourism from our own backyard all the way to the White House.

Check out 21 ways to promote and engage tourism in 2021:

  1. Join or renew your membership in TIAK in 2021. Yes, it is an expense, but it’s actually more of an investment. If you can’t pay all at once, call the office to inquire about monthly or quarterly payments.
  2. While you’re renewing your own membership, invite a destination, attraction or tourism partner to try the “Taste of TIAK” and then help mentor them during their first year.
  3. Join a committee.  Membership, PAC, marketing, and more! There is a committee for everyone, and getting involved through a committee is a great way to support TIAK.
  4. Attend association events–virtually, or in person.  Annual conference, educational seminars, and Destination Statehouse are all great events to network, learn, and support TIAK.
  5. Beef up social media efforts on your MOST popular platform and commit to post at least 3 x week. Lessen the pressure to post on all outlets and focus on your top 2-3. While you’re at it, make sure you are following TIAK on Facebook.
  6. Partner with local media to share tourism in your town on a regular basis. Podcasts, short interviews or a regular column in the paper are great ways to engage the community.
  7. Reach out to CVB/DMO boards and commissions about what you’re working on. Keep them “in the know” about how you are working to bring guests to town in the future even when travel may still have limitations.
  8. Recognize those who have manned front lines, taken on extra duties or just exemplified service during the year. So many people have stepped up–recognize those stories!
  9. Reach out to postponed meetings, reunions, tours, etc. to inquire about their plans to reschedule. Offer a re-booking incentive if you can!
  10. Create a “local” campaign.  Work with your city or county to offer the locals a discount program, special offers or coupons as a way to thank them for keeping your community strong. Let them know their spending counts too and they don’t go unnoticed. Remember, our residents are always visitors first!
  11. Send an email to your local elected officials on the top five ways your organization continued pushing forward during the pandemic (virtual tours, curbside offers, free masks, marketing campaigns, testimonials from others, etc.).
  12. While we are still recovering, update your online presence (web, social, etc.) so things are up-to-date and user-friendly. Make sure your Google listing is claimed, updated and accurate. This is also a good time to clean up e-news subscriber lists.
  13. Plan ahead and get things ready for spring/summer visitors — tourism packets, guides, maps, etc. — if we’re still under travel restrictions, you can always offer those things virtually or via pick-up by appointment.
  14. Drive around your town to see what needs fixing up. Is there good, visible signage in place? Do things need sprucing up? Potholes need filling? If so, ask for help to make sure these areas are tended to for optimal visitor satisfaction.
  15. Follow 2-3 new tourism blogs, websites, social accounts. Stay on top of trends, news and updates related to the industry. Bookmark selected sites for easy daily reference.
  16. Know who your state legislators are and especially those who serve on committees related to our industry. Have their contact information handy so you can fire off a quick email to thank them, ask for their support of an upcoming bill, or invite them to join our upcoming virtual Destination Statehouse. ttps://tiak.org/events/destination-statehouse/
  17. Participate in the Kansas Tourism Huddles — these online discussions have kept us all connected and updated throughout COVID. As long as they are offered, they’re an excellent resource.
  18. Make sure you are connected to your region and utilize every single marketing initiative offered. It’s always a good idea to have friends and neighbors helping to share your message. Get started here: https://www.travelks.com/regions-cities/regions/ 
  19. Check in and be present even if not in person. Our hotels, restaurants and attractions need to know we are still here and working on their behalf. Ask them what you can do to help. A quick phone call might mean the world to a struggling merchant.
  20. Travel. When the time is right and safe, get out there and be a traveler yourself. We need to stimulate the economies of other destinations too. Use “National Plan for Vacation Day” on January 26, 2021 as your time to plan for the places you want to visit in the coming year.
  21. Be a tourism cheerleader. Our industry is stronger when we band together. Let’s start with an outpouring of Kansas Day social media posts on Friday, January 29. The Kansas Tourism team will be releasing plans for an industry-wide celebration soon, so stay tuned in the coming days for more information. To start your planning, use the hashtags #KansasDay2021 and #ToTheStarsKS and tag @TravelKS in your messaging. 

Cheers to a better 2021 with all of us working together (hopefully in person soon) as champions for tourism!

–Karen Crane, TIAK Marketing Co-Chair
Merriam Visitors Bureau