Episode 205:

As America’s Road Trip Expert, Dr. Forbes has traveled by car in all 50 states, enjoying hundreds of scenic byways and scenic drives passing through thousands of historic towns. Her love of the road trip began at age 7 and even her High School was on a Scenic Byway. After a career in architecture and facility management, ending at The World Bank in Washington, DC, she was able to transform her love of the road trip into a successful career. Since beginning to develop road trips and driving travel packaging for destinations throughout the United States, Dr. Forbes has assisted over 300 locations to develop and promote new travel products in their areas. While managing an international inbound tour operator, she included scenic byways in every possible driving trip for overseas visitors.

Even though Dr. Forbes still assists destinations and regional locations to develop road trip experiences, more recently she contracted to take on the role of Director of Development and Marketing for the National Scenic Byway Foundation, and also the management of the effort to develop a comprehensive website to include all scenic byways and scenic roads throughout the United States. In addition to those roles, she serves as Professor of Destination Management and Marketing for the Temple University Masters in Travel and Tourism program. Dr. Forbes is conversant with the economic impact of Scenic Byways and scenic roads along with methods to create economic development in areas where it is hardest to come by. Her unique background in working on all sides of the equation – developing road trip experiences for the travel sellers and selling road trips as the head travel agent, holding an IATA number to travel buyers, plus teaching the subjects and working in economic development delivers a comprehensive perspective on what today’s visitors need and want and what travel sellers must do to respond, not found anywhere else.

She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Art and Architectural History from the University of Wisconsin, a Doctorate in Environmental Planning from Union University, a Certificate in Digital Marketing from the University of Illinois, and is currently working on an MBA at Taft University.

Destination on the Left is joined by Dr. Maree Forbes, Director of Development and Marketing for the National Scenic Byway Foundation. As America’s Road Trip Expert, Dr. Forbes has traveled by car in all 50 states, enjoying hundreds of scenic byways and scenic drives passing through thousands of historic towns. On our podcast, Maree shares her story and talks about the importance of scenic byways to the small towns and communities that they encompass. She also discusses the use of storytelling to create visitor experiences, and the importance of collaboration in travel and tourism.

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Dr. Forbes’ journey into the travel and tourism industry
  • The importance of scenic byways to the small towns and communities that they encompass
  • How Dr. Forbes creates itineraries based on visitor experience
  • How Dr. Forbes drove international travel through America’s scenic byways and drives
  • How storytelling enhances the ability to build visitor experiences
  • What Dr. Forbes has done to target different demographics with her travel experiences
  • The importance of creativity and collaboration in building road trip experiences

The National Scenic Byway Foundation

Dr. Maree Forbes is the Director of Development and Marketing for the National Scenic Byway Foundation. As America’s Road Trip Expert, Dr. Forbes has traveled by car in all 50 states, enjoying hundreds of scenic byways and scenic drives passing through thousands of historic towns. She has assisted over 300 locations to develop and promote new travel products in their areas. And her experience spans every piece of the equation. On our podcast, Maree shares her story and talks about the importance of scenic byways to the small towns and communities that they encompass.

Preserving the Beauty

Dr. Forbes designs unique road trip experiences for scenic byways and scenic drives in conjunction with The National Scenic Byway Foundation, an organization that picked up the pieces when federal funding was cut. She and her team are looking for ways to promote these one-of-a-kind travel routes on one central platform so they can fund preservation efforts and maintain the irreplicable beauty of the byways and scenic drives for generations to come. You can’t just build a new one when the beauty is destroyed, so these efforts are critical to locations across the country.

The Personal Travel Portfolio

Building these unique road trip experiences for a broad spectrum of travelers requires a lot of creativity. As competitive as the travel and tourism industry can be, Dr. Forbes had to figure out how to elevate the road trip. It was a challenge to inspire visitors to take the scenic route instead of flying to a destination and flying back, but she had a lot of success targeting international travelers with her “personal travel portfolio.” Many international travelers wanted to rent a car when they got to America, but with the grandiosity of the U.S., they didn’t quite know where to start. This program had a story for each day of travel, with detailed information about things to see and do that would make their trip more satisfying. And the use of creativity to turn driving into a travel experience did so much for scenic byways and drives around the country.

Episode Transcript

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