Going on Faith

OCT-NOV 2016

The Magazine for faith-based travel planners.

Issue link: http://digital.goingonfaith.com/i/737403

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going on faith [ goingonfaith.com ] has been a consistent source of new travel ideas and information for her. She attends with her cousin, who helps her plan travel for the church. "I have really enjoyed my association with that," she said. "We went to Going On Faith for the first time in Louisville in 2006. We have missed only one since then. We meet so many people there that are so beneficial. If this had been around when my mother was plan- ning trips, it would have been so helpful to her because toward the end, her group was running out of places to go." It was a contact at the Going On Faith Conference that inspired Watson to plan a 2014 trip to the Holy Land, which she said is the biggest one she has ever done. But it's not the only ambitious travel project she has taken on: The Paseo Baptist Church travelers take an international trip each year, and Watson said her members are will- ing to spend $2,500 to $3,000 per person to visit international desti- nations with the church group. "We did a trip to Nova Scotia this summer," she said. "We wanted to see how Canadian black history goes along with our African- American history. We combined Nova Scotia with Boston and Cape Cod — it was 12 days. That trip was $2,500, and I had 35 people." Watson said 2017 will be her most ambitious travel year yet. She is planning a trip to Paris and London in conjunction with Collette; a tour of Mackinac Island in Michigan; a trip to Atlanta and Georgia's Historic Heartland region, based on a FAM tour she took earlier this year with this magazine's parent company, The Group Travel Leader Inc.; a journey to the Creation Museum in northern Kentucky; and a land-and-sea adventure in Hawaii. Not all of her trips are so far afield, though. Watson said she will take a group back to Branson next year to see the epic biblical musi- cal "Moses" at Sight and Sound Theatre. "I still have a group of people that only do day trips, so I still offer at least three day trips a year," she said. "Next year, those will be a train ride to Jefferson City, [and] then we're going to Omaha and then to Branson." C O N N E C T I N G W I T H P E O P L E For much of her time as a travel planner, Watson was working professionally as a registered dietician. Though she retired last spring, she finds that many of the skills she picked up during her professional life come in handy in her travel career as well. "As a dietician, every patient room I went into, I was seeing some- one new," she said. "I was constantly asking, 'How am I going to relate to this person?' In travel, you get a lot of different personalities, too. I really like people, and I think everybody has a story, so I have learned how to go from one person to another and really connect with them." Watson also believes that the organizational skills she devel- oped during her career help her succeed as a travel planner. She said she enjoys doing research on destinations and planning the details of trips herself, and she has learned to consistently seek feed- back from her travelers. "Understand that it's really hard work," she said. "Planning in advance really helps, and so does constant evaluation. When you come back from your trip, do surveys and see what your travelers have to say about it." Although not every trip takes the group to faith-based destina- tions or attractions, Watson always makes sure to keep the greater mission of the church front and center during her tours. "We start every day with a devotion on the bus," she said. "That really sets the climate and helps people get their minds set for the day. Even our step-on guides have gotten used to it — we're going to take some time for devotions before they get started." The combination of hard work, great destinations, personal connections and spiritual emphasis has reaped benefits. She is work- ing on trips to Washington, D.C.; Panama; and the Kentucky Derby for 2018 and is seeing encouraging growth in her program. "I turned 70 this year, and we're looking at all sorts of different things," she said. "I'm encouraging church members to bring their grandkids to the Creation Museum and to bring their friends from other churches as well. Right now I have at least five different churches traveling with me." No doubt, her mother would be proud.

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