Denise George is co-owner of Receptively Yours, a receptive operator specializing in group tours visiting Central Florida booked with tour operators. Now in her 12th year running the business with her partner, John Laskowski, George’s company has been recognized as a PremEar client in the Walt Disney World Youth Market.
Receptively Yours books travel for a spectrum of student and adult groups: bands, choirs and orchestra groups arriving for performances, senior class trips, sports groups, dance groups, educational groups, family reunions, and church groups. George talked with Erin Albanese, freelance writer, about her business and the Orlando tourism scene.
[dropcap]Q:[/dropcap] How would you describe your tours?
A: As a receptive operator in Orlando, we work with all tours, and 85 percent are youth travelers. Most of our groups come for educational tours or music performances. The other 15 percent are family reunion, corporate incentive and church groups. A typical itinerary is a four-day, three-night stay in Central Florida.
The Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando Resort are usually our main draw with other area attractions filling in our itineraries around them. There’s so much to do, so we’re really trying hard to promote all that Central Florida has to offer. In addition to the well-known theme parks, we have also added the cultural arts to some of our tours with visits to the Dr. Philips Center for Performing Arts and the Orlando Science Center.
Day trips to Kennedy Space Center, the many surrounding beaches and Tampa Bay are very popular as well. Occasionally we have groups that want to do community service while they are here and we have encouraged performances and volunteer work at the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and Give Kids the World Village.
[dropcap]Q:[/dropcap]What industry trends are you noticing?
A: For the last two years, Central Florida tourism was at an all-time high. Many area attractions and hotels increased their rates for groups. This caused a bit of sticker shock when making comparisons with previous visits to our area. A trend we found is groups are spacing out visits a little more and they are traveling by bus versus flying in order to cut costs.
They are also cutting four-day visits down at times and streamlining their itineraries. Luckily for us, our destination is very appealing. There are always new and exciting things to see and experience.
[dropcap]Q:[/dropcap]What are you most proud of about your company?
A: I would say our relationships. My business partner and I pride ourselves on our relationships. Our suppliers and clients are more like our family. Even with more companies dabbling in the receptive business, we have maintained our client base.
Our partners see the value in having us as an extension of their team based in Orlando. We have succeeded in saving them time and money. Even with the rate increase, our business has continued to grow.
[dropcap]Q:[/dropcap]What’s the next big thing for Receptively Yours?
A: John and I would love to create a receptive network. Others have attempted it unsuccessfully in the past. We would love to find companies that share our philosophy. We are interested in having different receptive companies we can partner with to share destinations. It’s something we would really, really love to do in other major markets and even in Europe. Other than that, we could not be happier.
Article by Erin Albanese