ST. CHARLES – Brenda Littell of the Greater St. Charles Convention and Visitors Bureau wishes she had a megaphone so she could shout from here to Chicago about what St. Charles has to offer.
While she didn't have such an amplifier Thursday, she had something just as good: out-of-town visitors.
Thursday marked the beginning of a two-day hands-on familiarization tour the visitors bureau hosted as a way for event planners – including representatives from motor coach companies and associations – to learn what greater St. Charles has to offer.
"If you can get them to come to your destination ... you're golden," said Littell, senior sales manager.
The visitors bureau has done familiarization tours before, but this week's is different because it features hands-on activities, sales manager Michelle Cianferri said, noting motor coach groups always are looking for something different.
For familiarization tours, Littell said, it is typical to invite 100 and get 10. While this week's group was smaller than expected because of some late cancellations, it gave the visitors bureau a chance to get to know and build relationships with the attendees, she said.
The hope, she said, is the event planners will return to St. Charles with their groups and associations.
The two-day itinerary included visits to Fine Line Creative Arts, Pheasant Run Resort and Hotel Baker. Mayor Ray Rogina and City Administrator Mark Koenen were expected to attend a breakfast today for the group at the Hilton Garden Inn and Suites.
The tour kicked off at Country Garden Cuisine Cooking School in Campton Hills. There, founder Penny Newkirk told the group about the 1800s farmstead and its gardens before inviting them inside to prepare some dishes.
"This is a very laid-back experience," Newkirk told the group gathered around the kitchen counter.