Archive for April, 2011

Better Way to Stay

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Better Way to Stay Blog
Guest Blog: Advice and observations from

from by Kerry Harding

Kerry Harding from has offered her insight and marketing muses to the Better Way To Stay campaign to help innkeepers throughout the U.S. and Canada. is based in London, England.

How did you find out about the Better Way to Stay Campaign? is dedicated to bed and breakfasts — and we’re always delighted when we come across another website promoting the B&B experience. The Better Way to Stay campaign is the first of its kind. Too many travelers — in our opinion — aren’t aware what a great experience staying at a bed and breakfast or inn can be, especially compared to a hotel at the same price.

How do you think the Better Way to Stay Campaign can help B&B owners?
Marketing can be overwhelming for B&B owners and the Better Way to Stay Campaign will help them raise awareness of what they offer and why it’s so special. In short, the campaign will bring together bed and breakfast owners with leaders in the marketing industry so they can benefit from their years of experience. We think it will start a bed and breakfast trend amongst the younger generation of travellers who rely on the Internet for searching and booking holidays, as well as helping innkeepers to broaden their market and customer base.

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Bacon and Cheddar Deviled Eggs

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Bacon and Cheddar Deviled Eggs

Enjoy This Egg Dish All Day

PHOTO Bacon & Cheddar Deviled Eggs

ABC News
Bacon & Cheddar Deviled Eggs
From the kitchen of American Egg Board
Servings: Over 8
Difficulty: Easy
Cook Time: 1-30 min

Eggs don’t have to be just for breakfast. Try this dish at your next dinner party.


  • 14 hard-boiled eggs
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1-1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/3 cup crumbled cooked bacon
  • 1/4 cup finely shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (1 oz.)
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives OR green onion tops
  • Cooking Directions

    Cut eggs lengthwise in half. Remove yolks to medium bowl. Reserve 24 white halves. Finely chop remaining 4 white halves.

    Mash yolks with fork. Add mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard, lemon juice and pepper; mix well. Add chopped egg whites, bacon, cheese and chives; mix well.

    Spoon 1 heaping Tbsp. yolk mixture into each reserved egg white half. Refridgerate, covered, to blend flavors.

    Nutrition information per serving :83 calories; 6 g total fat; 2 g saturated fat; 1 g polyunsaturated fat; 2 g monounsaturated fat; 130 mg cholesterol; 133 mg sodium; 2 g carbohydrate; 0 g dietary fiber; 5 g protein; 199.4 IU Vitamin A; 10.4 IU Vitamin D; 14.8 mcg folate; 29.6 mg calcium; 0.6 mg iron; 77.3 mg choline.

    This recipe is a good source of protein and choline.

    Additional Notes:


    • Deviled eggs can be made up to 12 hours ahead. Refrigerate, covered.

    • Very fresh eggs can be difficult to peel. To ensure easily peeled eggs, buy and refrigerate them a week to 10 days in advance of cooking. This brief “breather” allows the eggs time to take in air, which helps separate the membranes from the shell.

    • Hard-cooked eggs are easiest to peel right after cooling. Cooling causes the egg to contract slightly in the shell.

    • To peel a hard-cooked egg: Gently tap egg on countertop until shell is finely crackled all over. Roll egg between hands to loosen shell. Starting peeling at large end, holding egg under cold running water to help ease the shell off.

    • Hard-cooked egg storage time: In the shell, hard-cooked eggs can be refrigerated safely up to one week. Refrigerate in their original carton to prevent odor absorption. Once peeled, eggs should be eaten that day.

    • No-mess method: Combine filling ingredients in 1-quart plastic food-storage bag. Press out air and seal bag. Press and roll bag with hand until mixture is well blended. Push filling toward bottom corner of bag. Snip off about 1/2-inch of corner. Squeeze filling from bag into egg whites.

    • Picnic or tailgate tip: Prepare filling in plastic bag, as above. Carry whites and yolk mixture separately in cooler. Fill eggs on the spot, pressing filling out of snipped corner of bag.


    8 Ways to Successfully Sell Using Social Media

    Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

    8 Ways to Successfully Sell Using Social Media

    By Mike Schultz
    Published April 19, 2011 Printer-Friendly

    social media how toThere’s this age-old problem with selling: If we could only get more people to pay attention to us, we could build relationships that lead to sales.

    Fortunately, social media offers an amazing source of business opportunities. If you approach it the right way, you can build many relationships that could be crucial to your business growth and success.
    Check out this video to see the sales potential of social media

    This article is about successfully “selling” with social media. I’ll explore how to achieve success with the “two people getting to know each other and starting up a conversation that might go somewhere” kind of selling.

    Here are 8 ways to strike up social media conversations with people you want to meet:

    #1: Boil the Frog

    There’s an old wives’ tale (some truth to it), that if you put a frog in boiling water, it will sense the heat and jump out. But put a frog in cool water and turn up the heat slowly and the frog will hardly notice.

    When reaching out online to people you’d like to meet, don’t come on like gangbusters. Nothing screams “jump out of the hot pot” more than a blatant “let’s talk so I can sell you something” message.

    Start cool and warm up slowly. Comment on their blog post. Retweet them thoughtfully. Compliment something they wrote. Become familiar to someone—even if they don’t engage you right away—and it’s more likely that they’ll engage you in the future.

    For example, this person wrote to me personally, said something pleasant and left it there. Nice start!


    Dr. Rachna Jain, who studies the psychology of social media, says, “When people see you more, they like you more. The shorthand is that familiarity breeds likeability. Especially if you’re seen as giving them value or good content or information.”

    #2: Givers Gain

    The world of social media changes faster than the Clippers change coaches. But some things never change—like the golden rule of networking (social or otherwise).

    The golden rule? Givers gain. (Bet you figured that out from the section header.)

    As Dr. Jain said, “…especially if you’re seen as giving them value or good content or information.” How? Share a white paper. Share a relevant piece of research. Invite them to a private local business event.

    Remember, starting relationships can take many touches. Do this right, and people will perceive you as valuable even before you interact with them personally (which we’re getting to), and you boil the frog at the same time.

    #3: Make Henry Kissinger Proud

    There’s an old story that’s been told and retold about how Henry Kissinger approached getting the best out of his staff. Before reviewing anything from his people, he’d ask, “Before I look at this… is it your best work?“, and the staff would go back and keep working until they could say yes.

    When reaching out through social media, give it your Henry Kissinger effort.

    As president of a company and publisher of a reader publication (RainToday), we have about 150,000 subscribers and followers.  And they reach out to me fairly regularly and want to connect.

    Many of them remain strangers because they made no effort to relate to me. A standard, “my products would be of value” overture does not catch anyone’s attention. No personalization… no genuine connection. Even something better than bad would be good.

    But every once in a while, someone reaches out with real effort, energy and thoughtfulness—the kind that would make Henry Kissinger proud. Here’s an example of how one gentleman started a conversation:


    This example goes on with several more paragraphs explaining our connections and reasons for why we might both be interested in connecting. This contact effort was obviously customized and it resonated well with me.

    #4: Be Brave

    Call reluctance is common on the phone. It happens online, too. People don’t reach out online because of some kind of fear. “They won’t respond.” “They’ll say no.” “They’ll be angry with me.”

    The fact of the matter is most customers believe salespeople don’t reach out enough. In the online world, there’s a heavy emphasis on the concept of inbound marketing. I think inbound marketing is a great approach. But that doesn’t mean proactive outreach—the online equivalent of cold-calling is either dead or bad. (By the way, cold-calling isn’t dead. See the research in Bloomberg Business Week from 2007. The 2010 study revealed the same thing.)

    When you find a particular person you want to connect with, reach out.

    As long as you keep points 1, 2 and 3 in mind, you’ll be fine. As business guru Wayne Gretzky said, “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

    Be brave. Take shots.

    #5: Be Positive and Pleasant

    When some people gear up their bravery for outreach, they think, “I’m about to reach out to a big-time person. I need to seem big time too!” So they puff out their chest and brag about how awesome they are.

    Who made the rule that “important” people should be temperamental and full of themselves? Not endearing. I’ve had the good fortune of interacting with lots of guru types and most of them are pleasant and humble.

    Don’t try to come off as the BMOC. The fastest way to come off as inconsequential is to keep saying how influential you are.

    Todd Schnick says it so well:

    Actions make you influential. Not your words or tweets. People who serve, people who help others, people who share the cool things that others are doing… those are the actions that make you influential.”

    Right on, Todd.

    #6: Prepare for Window Shopping

    When you reach out to people, expect that they’ll check you out. When someone writes to me and I’m curious, the first thing I do is Google and see what comes up.

    Make sure when the people reaching out to you search for you online, you’re portrayed exactly how you want to be. Determine how your personal brand and online reputation come across, as they’ll greatly affect people’s impressions of you.

    #7: Let Your Personality Shine Through

    People build relationships with people they like. If you want to build relationships, be endearing. And the best way to do that? Let your personality shine through.

    Boring is forgettable. Personality is memorable. And social media outlets are the perfect place for you to be yourself.

    For example, in my research for this piece, I came across articles by Amy Porterfield. I visited her website, and saw her nifty little description of herself:

    I BELIEVE in:

    • Hard work, but that you have to be able to throw it all away for love and family.
    • No drama. Really… not even a little!
    • Acceptance. No judgment lives here.
    • Wearing my heart on my sleeve.
    • Embracing whatever’s next.
    • But most of all, I believe that social media should be something you enjoy, not dread, every day.

    No drama. Not even a little. I love it!

    Now that’s letting your personality shine through.

    #8: Take It Offline, When It’s Time

    Social media outlets are great places for starting conversations, but they’re not the only place to have them. When the time is right, take the conversation offline.

    You can start with a phone call or go right to face-to-face (assuming you’ve boiled your frog correctly). In any case, take the leap.

    Selling is a contact sport. After you’ve begun your conversation and built rapport, find a good reason to take the conversation offline and see where it takes you.

    And a little bonus…

    There are so many social media tools available now it can be difficult to keep up. Here are a handful of tools that are helpful for lead generation and sales:

    • Google Alerts and Twitter Alerts help you find reasons to create conversations by following trigger events.
    • SocialToo can help you keep track of new and lost followers.
    • GeoChirp is good if you need to focus on a specific geography.
    • TubeMogul can help you spread the word with video.
    tubemogulTubeMogul is a video advertising and analytics platform that connects advertisers with highly targeted audiences.

    • Twellow finds people you’re looking for with a sort of Yellow Pages for Twitter.
    twellowTwellow is a directory of public Twitter accounts to help you find people who matter to you.

    One last thought—selling is a big topic. There are so many approaches to succeeding with selling. I think about sales a lot, but I don’t have a corner on the best ideas by a long shot.

    If there was a ninth way to succeed in building relationships and selling with social media, and you were to add it to this article, what would it be? Leave your comments in the box below.

    *No frogs were in any way harmed in the process of writing this article.


    Tags: , , , , , , , ,

    About the Author, Mike Schultz

    Mike Schultz is president of the sales training company RAIN Group, author of Rainmaking Conversations: Influence, Persuade, and Sell in Any Situation and publisher of Other posts by Mike Schultz »

    Farmers turn to agritourism to stay in business

    Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

    Farmers turn to agritourism to stay in business

    By Marisa Agha
    Special to The Bee
    Published: Sunday, Apr. 24, 2011 – 12:00 am | Page 3A
    Last Modified: Sunday, Apr. 24, 2011 – 9:30 am

    FALLBROOK – A winding road off Interstate 15 leads to rolling hills and a sudden sea of signs peddling fresh strawberries and tomatoes. Farmers’ markets spring from the roadside, signaling a rustic slice of Southern California life that is gaining commercial appeal.

    In Fallbrook, about 50 miles north of San Diego, Andrea Peterson began farming her nearly 15 acres, which border Camp Pendleton, by planting mango trees shortly after moving here in 1979. Eventually, she sold at farmers markets and wholesale to restaurants and stores, adding baby lettuce, squash, raspberries, strawberries, sugar snap peas and tomatoes to her fields. By 2006, she needed to further diversify her business to help pay the bills. So, she decided to convert her home into a year-round bed and breakfast.

    “It was a big, empty house with a mortgage,” said Peterson, owner of the Blue Heron Farm Bed and Breakfast. “It just helps. Anything helps.”

    A growing number of farms in Southern California have looked to tourism in recent years to boost income.

    “Farmers are strapped nowadays,” said Bob McFarland, president of the California State Grange, a farmers advocacy group in Sacramento that promotes agritourism. “They have to develop new sources of revenue.”

    Agritourism involves farmers who turn to tourism to keep their farms thriving, and can range from pumpkin patches and picking your own strawberries to bed and breakfasts and wineries.

    “It’s the new dude ranch – it’s where people want to come and experience a day or a weekend on the farm,” McFarland said. “It’s a great alternative to going into the city or going to a movie. It’s a different experience.”

    California had 685 farms with tourism or recreational income in 2007, generating $34.9 million in revenue, up from 499 farms bringing in $6.6 million in 2002, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture census. Agritourism income nationwide rose during the same period. Several Southern California counties, including Los Angeles, Riverside and San Diego, saw an increase in the number of farms offering tourism, the census found.

    Some worry that turning farms into tourist attractions takes away from the rural character of the family farm. Though agritourism is relatively new in San Diego County, there are basic questions asked to measure how a proposal will change land use, said Rich Grunow, land use chief for the San Diego County Department of Planning and Land Use.

    “Will there be adequate parking? Will they introduce noise to the neighborhood?” Grunow asked, adding that the county soon will consider writing regulations.

    Broadening their farming business came of necessity for the Tanaka family of Orange County.

    George Tanaka was a farmer who opened a roadside fruit stand in Huntington Beach after World War II. His son, Glenn, continued the business in the 1970s.

    But by 1998, the family was not making enough money selling its wares.

    Now, grandson Kenny manages Tanaka Farms, about 30 acres of strawberry fields in Irvine that draw thousands of visitors every year through tours, the chance to pick fresh fruit and vegetables, and cookouts.

    “Without the tours, it’s pretty slow,” Kenny Tanaka said. “We’re kind of lucky to still be here.”

    Beyond a sampling of strawberries or spinach, patrons often seek an education.

    The agritourism movement also springs from Americans’ increasing curiosity about the origin of food, how it is made and the people of a seemingly bygone era, said Penny Leff, statewide agritourism coordinator for the UC Small Farm Program in Davis.

    “People are fascinated by meeting the farmers and the person directly connected to growing their food,” Leff said. “And people want their children to know, too. Now, most people don’t know farmers and ranchers.”

    UC’s Small Farm Program lists between 700 and 800 farms on its online directory, Leff said. Most are small to midsize farms seeking to diversify, she said.

    Peterson knows that the bed and breakfast also helps showcase her farm’s fresh fruits and vegetables.

    “There’s a much bigger interest in locally, organically grown produce,” she said. “People are much more aware of what they’re eating now.”


    © Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

    Read more:

    The Great Gas Gorge

    Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

    The Great Gas Gorge

    Will soaring gas prices really affect the upcoming travel season? These experts say there’s no way!

    Tuesday, April 26, 2011

    Tony Dela Cruz

    Is the fuel tank half-empty or half-full? It’s a question most hotel operators would rather not have to answer this time of year as they ponder what increases in rate or occupancy, if any, await in the summer season.

    Veterans say the lodging industry has been down this road before, knows what to do and is doing it, in terms of the types of seasonal promotions designed to prevent market share erosion. Both hotel owner/operators and franchisors seem mindful of the need to protect room rates that are just starting to recover from the hammering they took in 2009. And prognosticators are saying there’s even some pent-up demand that can push up revenue as the weather warms up.

    And $4 a gallon for gas? Experts say that’s just a number, a mental hurdle at worst, that will not be a deal breaker for a family traveling by car who might pay an incremental $35 for the same trip had it been six months ago.

    Derek Baum, director of operations for Orlando-based Rosen Hotels and Resorts, says RevPAR sensitivity related to energy costs “is not necessarily new news, we’ve been through this before,” pointing to conservation measures that have been in place for years. For example, they don’t heat swimming pools that can maintain 82 degrees on their own. At the same time, Rosen will tweak the energy budget if needed. Baum says the company just installed high-efficiency gas boilers for guest rooms and restaurants.

    In terms of summer revenue, Baum sees “extremely competitive average room rates” trying to rise. He’s hoping third-party internet bookings can add to occupancy without putting too much downward pressure on room rates. “We try to combat that by offering price guarantees on our own website,” he said.
Protecting room rates is also the goal for Country Inns and Suites by Carlson, according to Aurora Toth, the brand’s vice president of marketing. “Our franchisees had a tough three year run, they are trying to get money back in the till, so we don’t want to discount our room rates,” she said.

    Instead, the smart move is to value-add rather than cut rates. For the first quarter of 2011, Country Inns and Suites offered a 10,000 point bonus to its business travelers. “It seems basic, but it was the right focus at the right time,” Toth said.

    To push leisure transient business, the brand’s current Spring Getaway promotion offers a $30 gift card, 3,000 loyalty points and a T.G.I. Fridays coupon in exchange for a two-night stay booked three days in advance, which she says are getting good bookings and good rates so far. Toth anticipates value-added strategies to keep sprouting for the balance of the year as rates and occupancy stabilize. “We don’t expect them to go back to 2007 levels but we do expect a good summer.

    Within the narrow cast of mid-market limited-service, Toth says Country Inns is trying to differentiate with an improved breakfast offering, not necessarily bigger, but measurably different and better. This summer the brand is attempting to be the first in its segment to switch to non-disposable dinnerware. That means coaxing franchisees to add an industrial dishwasher; those who do it by June 1 will be rebated the cost of the new machinery. Toth said the concept was tested in a company-owned property and that it is an affordable upgrade that make sense. Another tweak: Carlson is asking Country Inns franchisees to rotate their breakfast buffet offerings daily so that repeat guests don’t experience deja vu in the morning.

    The big picture for the industry going forward is typified by a well-worn phrase, “cautious optimism,” according to Bobby Bowers, senior vice president of operations, Smith Travel Research, Nashville. “What we were looking at, the end of last year for this year, was more growth on the rate side and continued growth on the occupancy side but not as much,” he said. “Most of the segments, if not all of them, were showing RevPAR growth based on rate.”

    The rising cost of gas just as summer approaches is still not good and cannot be ignored, but Bowers says he doesn’t believe it will impact business because large brand owners like Choice, Wyndham and Intercontinental know how to “counter-promote” against those types of economic speed-bumps. “I don’t get a sense higher gas prices are going to create a huge barrier to travel during the summertime. (Choice, for one, has hedged that bet by offering some of its customers a $50 gas card for two separate spring bookings.)

    Gauging a recovery in the middle of a recovery is always comes with caveats. “The one thing you can say for sure is our forecast will change,” Bowers said. “We’ll have to wait and see if there’s softness on the demand side.”

    Advertising Trends Worth Noting

    Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

    Advertising Trends Worth Noting

    Trends in online search, regulations and hiring will make it easier to reach consumers.

    Monday, April 25, 2011

    Omar Tawakol

    You would think that a maturing industry would have a slower pace of growth than a brand new one. You can’t say that about display advertising! Just when Madison Avenue was ready to finally put 2010 and the Great Recession behind it, the advertising community got news that the Federal Trade Commission was calling for more regulation of the online ad industry.

    Discussions around consumer privacy and data utility continue to alter the narrative of the pros and cons of digital marketing. What that portends for travel marketers specifically and the overall advertising community as a whole poses some significant questions for the industry as we start to get ready for the heavy summer travel season this year.

    Putting on my Nostradamus hat, here are some quick thoughts on what every travel marketer should expect in the coming months.

    ● People Not Proxies: If 2010 was the year that audience targeting went mainstream, 2011 promises to be the year that data will impact the entire media buying process. For decades marketers in the travel industry have been used to using rough proxies to tell them where they should spend their advertising dollars. Surveys and panels have helped marketers find the right ZIP codes, TV shows, content sites and newspapers as proxies for where their consumers might be. While marketers spent billions on these gold-plated slingshots – the proxy tools – search came along and empowered marketers with heat seeking missiles. Search taught us to abandon the proxy and go straight to the people who want to find us. Data targeting, simple re-targeting and search finally break our dependence on proxies. It’s important to remember that people buy our products and people have passion for our ideals. Marketers will flip their planning paradigm to go straight to these people rather than the substitutes we find in proxy based segmentation. We will even begin to see online segmentation techniques drive cross-channel segmentation. Specifically, new planning tools will give marketers the ability to craft their entire marketing funnel based on all available first and third party data. This will inform who their customers actually are and who should see their next round of ads. We’re already seeing this trend with many of our travel clients who have asked us to help them identify and target in-market travel prospects. And as a result of our efforts, our travel clients have been able to meet many of their sales conversion goals while reducing the overall CPA costs by an average of more than 40 percent. What’s more, travel marketers were also able to exceed straight geo-targeted buys as well as other behavioral targeting segments without compromising campaign performance or losing scale. All and all, we’ve been able to help travel marketers reach more than 4.1 million unique in-market shoppers who are ready to buy products in air travel, hotel and lodging, car rentals and cruises. Good bye proxies, hello people!

    ● The Industry Strikes Back: With the rise of government interference, self-regulation is going to play a vital role in the privacy debate and this year promises to be a period when the online travel marketers produce real progress. We’ve already seen organizations like Online Behavioral Advertising (OBA) and the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) apply consumer-friendly standards to online advertising that provide book-end transparent solutions that are aimed at giving users clear disclosure at collection, clear in-ad notification and universal opt-out choices. Look for more self-regulatory programs like these to be implemented at a rapid pace in the coming months with a few key players driving the majority of the innovation. The greatest irony of 2010 was that the government convinced consumers that they should have rights to understand their citizen’s behaviors and businesses like travel companies are the ones that need to be regulated. In my humble opinion, the answer lies not only in self-regulation but also in equal attempt by lawmakers and privacy advocates to truly acknowledge the benefits of subsidized content and the trade-offs in a non-advertising world. Let’s focus on practical solutions that give choice and transparency to consumers over broad opt-out tactics that can negatively impact an otherwise thriving industry.

    ● The Rise of the Quants:While there will always be a need for the Don Drapers of the world, many agencies are trading in their cigarettes and whiskey glasses for complex mathematical formulas and spreadsheets. I have no prediction on whether or not the quants will be popular dates, but they certainly will find jobs. Quantitative analysts are the hot hires at agencies, which increasingly need data jocks who can better understand consumer audiences and their purchasing behaviors to optimize for ideal campaign performance. The rise of the quants will only intensify in the coming year, as more and more agencies adopt media strategies for their travel clients that rely on in-depth data analysis and audience profiling.

    As online media continues to transform Madison Avenue, this year will be a pivotal one for the advertising community and travel marketers. It must remain steadfast in their commitment to creating transparent solutions for consumers while providing advertisers and travel marketers with the ability to reach the right audience at the right time with the right message. If we can strike that balance, the 2011 travel season may go down in the books as one of the most successful for the industry.

    Omar Tawakol is CEO of BlueKai. You can reach him at

    North Platte “Friend of Tourism” Award

    Wednesday, April 27th, 2011



    Lisa Burke

    North Platte Convention and Visitors Bureau

    1221 S. Dewey, Suite A, North Platte, NE 69101, (308) 532-4729


    NORTH PLATTE –   Dave Harrold, president of North Platte’s Original Town Association was honored with the North Platte/Lincoln County Convention and Visitors Bureau’s “Friend of Tourism” award in a surprise ceremony on April 25. “Our Board of Directors and staff has known for a long time who we wanted to receive this award,” said Lisa Burke, Executive Director of the NP/LCCVB. “We just had a hard time catching up with Dave in order to give it to him.”

    Harrold was honored for his work in developing and promoting North Platte’s annual Rail Fest celebration and for promoting the concept of “Rail Town USA.” “This isn’t an award we give out freely,” said Burke. “Our board and our staff look at people who see the importance of the economic impact of tourism and work to promote and grow tourism in the community. Dave fits that mold.”

    Brenda Mainwaring, the Public Relations Director for Union Pacific Railroad was on hand to express her appreciation for Harrold’s work. “North Platte is very important to Union Pacific Railroad, and we really value the work that Dave has done to show us and our employees how much North Platte appreciates us.”

    Rail Fest was awarded the “Best New Event” by the Nebraska Division of Travel and Tourism in 2007, and was named one of the top 100 events in America by the American Bus Association. The 2011 Rail Fest will be on September 16 – 18.


    Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

     Tourism is Nebraska’s third largest earner of revenue from outside the state after agriculture and
     Travelers spent almost $3.8 billion in Nebraska during 2009 on trips away from home with
    overnight stays in paid accommodations and on day trips to places 100 miles or more away. Annual
    spending in Nebraska on these trips has increased by over $2.1 billion since 1990.
     Jobs attributable to travel spending in Nebraska totaled 45,300 in 2009.
     Each dollar spent by tourists in Nebraska is respent in the state to produce an additional $1.70 in
    business and income, creating an overall economic impact of $2.70.
     Nebraskans and visitors to Nebraska together made 18.7 million trips in the state in 2009 to
    destinations 100 miles or more away from home. For trips by visitors, the leading states of origin
    were, in order, Kansas, Iowa, Colorado, Missouri, South Dakota, Illinois, and Minnesota.
     The average nonresident traveling party visiting Nebraska by highway during the summer consists
    of 2.4 persons who stay 2.2 nights in the state and spend $435. Over a third of the nonresident
    traveling parties go to attractions or events, and for each attraction or event visited, they average a
    half-day longer in Nebraska, spending an additional $100.
     Among the nationally recognized and/or best attended Nebraska attractions in 2009 were: Agate
    Fossil Beds National Monument (12,700), Arbor Lodge State Historical Park (120,000), Ashfall
    Fossil Beds State Historical Park (22,000), Boys Town (100,000), Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical
    Park (47,056), Calamus Reservoir State Recreation Area (476,806), Durham Museum (150,000),
    Eugene T. Mahoney State Park (1,120,200), Fort Robinson State Park (335,046), Golden Spike
    Tower (36,000), Harlan County Lake (505,934), Hastings Museum/Lied Super Screen Theatre
    (61,759), Homestead National Monument (66,000), Indian Cave State Park (146,515), Henry Doorly
    Zoo (1,561,279), Joslyn Art Museum (177,037), Lake McConaughy State Recreation Area (892,815),
    Lauritzen Gardens (160,000), Niobrara National Scenic River (68,058), Platte River State Park
    (697,894), Ponca State Park (835,500), Scotts Bluff National Monument (67,235), State Capitol
    (92,470—tours only), Strategic Air and Space Museum (132,600), Stuhr Museum of the Prairie
    Pioneer (67,284), and University of Nebraska State Museum (68,482).
     Over 60 percent of the nonresidents visiting Nebraska during the summer stay at hotels or motels.
    The state has over 28,000 hotel, motel, and bed and breakfast rooms, which had an average annual
    occupancy rate of 53 percent in 2009 and offered the nation’s 7th lowest average room costs.
     The total budget of the Nebraska Travel and Tourism Division in Fiscal Year 2009-10 was
    approximately $5.5 million, compared to an average of $13.5 million among all state travel offices.
    A one-percent lodging tax provides much of the revenue for the Division “to generally promote,
    encourage, and attract visitors to and within the State of Nebraska and enhance the use of travel
    and tourism facilities within the state.”
     At the end of 2009, 74 of Nebraska’s 93 counties had lodging taxes to collect revenues for promoting
    local travel and tourism. Including the highest concentrations of hotels, motels, and campgrounds in
    Nebraska, these 74 counties have almost 98 percent of the state’s total commercial lodging sales. In
    addition, at least 10 Nebraska cities have occupation taxes on lodging sales, with most using the
    proceeds for attraction development.

    Greener Program Expands Across Nebraska

    Friday, April 22nd, 2011


    Shannon Peterson at 800-228-4307, 402-471-3797,


    Tom Tabor at 800-228-4307, 402-471-7755




    Greener Program Expands Across Nebraska


    LINCOLN, NEB (April 22, 2011)—The Greener Byways of Nebraska program is expanding. As of today, the program will be known as Greener Nebraska and will be open to all businesses across the state.


    Developed in 2010 with resources from a National Scenic Byways grant, the Nebraska Department of Economic Development’s Travel and Tourism Division developed the initial program to help tourism-related businesses along Nebraska’s nine Scenic Byways become more environmentally friendly.


    Going statewide enables the program to reach out to a larger audience. Not only will this open new opportunities for membership, but it will help to spread the word about all the wonderful things businesses are doing to protect the environment. Businesses that go green help keep Nebraska beautiful while attracting tourists who place strong importance on eco-friendly travel.


    The program’s website——includes a variety of information on ways your business can incorporate green practices and offers a free certification program. In addition to the website, media resources have been developed for you to promote your business’s certification and involvement in the program. You can find the materials at


    Please consider becoming part of Greener Nebraska and begin reaping the rewards of your efforts to protect and preserve the environment.


    Visit our new website,, to learn more about the new program, and feel free to share the site with other businesses that may be interested in participating.

    Emeril’s Broccoli, Cheese and Ham Healthy Breakfast Casserole

    Thursday, April 21st, 2011

    Emeril’s Broccoli, Cheese and Ham Healthy Breakfast Casserole

    Fill Up on This Healthy and Fresh Breakfast Casserole

    Servings: 6-8
    Difficulty: Easy
    Cook Time: 60-120 min

    Are you tired of making eggs the same way all the time? Try Emeril’s casserole. It’s the perfect combination of meat, cheese and eggs without all the calories of a normal omelette.


  • 4 cups coarsely chopped broccoli florets (about 1 head, 18 oz)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 cup small diced ham (5 oz)
  • 2 ½ ounces shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  • 4 cups 1-inch diced whole wheat English muffins
  • 4 large eggs
  • 6 egg whites
  • 1 ½ cups skim milk
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 ounces finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • Cooking Directions

    Blanch the broccoli florets in a pot of boiling salted water until bright green and slightly tender, about 1 minute. Transfer to an ice-bath and let cool. Drain well and set aside.

    Heat the olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium-high heat, add the onions and a couple of pinches of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

    In a large mixing bowl, add the broccoli, cooled onions, ham, cheddar cheese and English muffins. Gently toss together to combine and pour into a 11.5 x 8-inch glass baking dish; spread the mixture out evenly.

    Using the same bowl, add the eggs, egg whites, milk, salt, paprika and black pepper. Whisk to mix well and pour over the broccoli mixture. Cover with foil and store in the refrigerator overnight, up to 8 hours.

    Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the casserole in the oven and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and sprinkle the Parmesan cheese evenly over the top. Return to the oven and continue cooking until golden brown, puffed, and cooked through, about 30 minutes more.

    Place on a cooling rack and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

    This recipe was styled by chef Karen Pickus for Good Morning America.

    Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse, copyright MSLO, Inc., all rights reserved

    Recipe Summary

    Main Ingredients: broccoli, olive oil, onion, ham, cheddar, english muffin, eggs, milk

    Course: Brunch, Breakfast

    More Info: Kids Friendly, Low Calorie

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