How do you plan a 3-day business trip for almost 10 people? Well, my first tip for you is do not panic.
The goal of the trip was to live like locals, including participating in fun activities throughout the town, eating at local restaurants, and going to all of the “regular” resident spots. Our mission was to immerse ourselves into the culture of the town so we could better understand the area we’re creating a researched-based, rebranding campaign.
I created a three-day itinerary for each of the 6 BrandJRNY capstone students, made reservations at museums and local restaurants, and reached out to Mason County Tourism Director Denny Bellamy to schedule personal tours of the abandoned TNT factory in McClintic Wildlife Management Area and Fort Randolph. I also had the support of Creative Director Claire Hemme throughout the planning process.
At first, for someone who'd never even planned a family vacation, this was a daunting challenge. It wasn’t until I started researching online and stumbled across this article by CTW Solutions that I felt more comfortable with the task.
Check out some things that I learned from planning this trip below.
1. Remain Flexible
Something will go wrong. On the way to Point Pleasant, one of the student’s cars broke down on the interstate. For a second, we all thought we were doomed. Fortunately, we were able to find a ride back to Morgantown to get someone else’s car to travel down. This situation definitely wasn’t on the itinerary but after a few phone calls, we were all safe and back on schedule!
2. Microsoft Excel is your best friend
Trust me -- you will need this if you’re creating an itinerary for the group. Check out these itinerary templates in Excel to help get you started.
3. Research. Research. Research.
Seriously, do your research. There were so many activities that I would never have realized were there if I hadn’t taken the time to search for them. Researching the area your team is traveling to will open the doors to new possibilities.
4. Not sure what to do? Ask residents for advice
While planning this trip, I was worried that we might miss a fun activity to do. Leigh Ann Shepard — the chairperson for the Point Pleasant Branding Committee, city council member for Point Pleasant, and regional manager at City National Bank — helped a lot during the planning. She gave us tips on which local restaurants to eat at and told us several activities that we absolutely must-do if we want to live like locals. Leigh Ann got me in contact with Mason County Tourism Director Denny Bellamy, who gave the team a tour of the TNT factory and Fort Randolph.
Don’t have access to any locals while you’re planning? Leave a few hours open one day and ask someone on the street or your server at a local restaurant if there are any must-do activities. If you’re planning to travel to Point Pleasant, residents are more than willing to help.
5. Step out of your comfort zone
Don’t be afraid of doing something new. We all have to take a step out of our comfort zone to experience the unknown.
My name is Adrianne Uphold — but you can call me Adri. I am the brand manager and chief strategist for BrandJRNY’s Point Pleasant Project. I’m probably wearing socks with my Australian Cattle Dog, Wren, face printed on them. Follow me throughout our journey — @adriiaanneee.