Last week I was one of 64 exhibitors attending Travel Media Showcase in Lake Charles, LA. Travel Media Showcase is a trade show that allows destinations to connect with journalists interested in writing about their cities. My booth partner Darragh (from the Port Arthur CVB), and I spoke with over 30 travel writers about what's new, the food scene, outdoor adventures, trails and the overall story of our region.
These writers hailed from all parts of the US and travel the world for a living. It's a privilege to represent Beaumont and to be able to tell our story. It makes me proud when journalists are equally excited to hear all the tales Southeast Texas has to offer. One of my favorite things about these types of tradeshows is discovering what interests others about our area.
Some of the things our appointments were most interested in were the quirky, larger than life road side attractions. (In case you are wondering, the Fire Museum's 24-ft Dalmatian Spotted Fire Hydrant, 135 foot Alligator at Gator Country, replica Lucas Gusher and Muffler Man were well received.)
Travel writers were also intrigued about Beaumont & Port Arthur's home grown legend, Janis Joplin, and wanted to know if we have a Janis Joplin Trail. They were impressed to learn about the long list of legendary talents born here- George Jones, Johnny Winter and Babe Zaharias. Why does Southeast Texas have so many home-grown musicians? (Perhaps there's something about that swamp water after all.)
We were also asked for "wow" moments and what visitors can do here that are unique and not found anywhere else. Gator Country's offering of alligator encounters and gator wrangling contests garnered lots of attention. Journalists were also very interested in agricultural adventures like crabbing and culinary offerings of BBQ Crabs, crawfish, boudin, Texjoy and rice farms.
Lastly, what surprised me was how often we were asked about ghost stories and anything haunted. Apparently, supernatural tourism is an up and coming interest to readers and anything we had to suggest was met with high intrigue. Haunted history has sizzle. Thankfully, Beaumont has more than our fair share of history, and heritage tourism that I was able to recount a few local haunted tales.
... and the Point?
Often, we get immersed in the daily grind and take our own community's assets for granted. This past week's mission turned out to be a lovely reminder of what an incredible story we have to share.
Don't miss the chance to talk up your time at a local museum. Promote unique culinary offerings. Beaumont has a distinctive history and collection of stories that is both unique and amazing. Indeed, we are blessed to live in the Golden Triangle. Our community is welcoming and offers a unique story that no other Texas region can claim. Embrace it and be proud.
Darragh & I are still smiling after 30 back-to-back appointments!