One of my favorite views of Chicago

Indiana Dunes has a great view of the Chicago skyline from across Lake Michigan. You can see the city on most days and I’ve photographed this view before but there’s something special about how the sun was reflecting on Willis Tower.

Bourbon Balls

One of my newer Christmas traditions is to make Bourbon Balls and now you can make them too!

I typically quadruple this recipe, mostly because a large bag of walnuts can be divided into this ratio. You might want to start with only a single or double batch at first as they’re a little time-consuming to make.

Bourbon Balls ~ Delicious!

Bourbon Balls

  • 1 – 6 oz package semi-sweet chocolate chips (half a bag)
  • 3 Tbsp light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup sugar + more to coat balls at end
  • 1/3 cup bourbon whiskey (or orange juice)
  • 1 cup walnuts, ground or chopped finely
  • 1 – 14 oz box vanilla wafers, crushed finely
  1. Grind / chop walnuts and vanilla wafers. (I use a food processor.)
  2. Melt chocolate chips in a double boiler.
  3. Add corn syrup and sugar. Stir well.
  4. Blend in bourbon.
  5. Stir in wafers and walnuts (I stir them in by batches as my double boiler is small. You probably could transfer the mixture to a large bowl before this step.)
  6. Form into 1-inch balls.
  7. Roll balls in sugar.
  8. Let ripen in tightly covered container for 4-5 days.

Things I learned this week: Dec 20

Lots of thoughts… Millie’s had slight laryngeal paralysis for a few years but it’s starting to get much worse lately. She gets so excited when people come over but then she can’t catch her breath and just lies on the floor, hyperventilating. Apparently when it gets bad, I’m not supposed to worry if she passes…

Things I learned this week: Dec 10

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! It’s really hard to stay on budget when shopping for gifts. Fresh on the press – CVBs on Pinterest: December Update Google+ launched Communities last week. Pin of the week: Chicago In 30,000 Photographs: A Film

CVBs on Pinterest: December Update

We’re almost ready to close out the year! Will a more active Pinterest account be on your 2013 to-do list?

Most DMOs have stopped pinning all together. From data collected on December 3, 145 DMOs did not pin at all during the entire month of November. That’s 35% of the total amount of DMOs. And approximately the same amount (151 DMOs) pinned 20 or less pins during the month. That’s about one pin per weekday. Some may say that’s enough activity but I feel that DMOs should pin more frequently than that. Here’s the total breakdown:

Who were the most active pinners in November? Boston USA, Explore Georgia, VisitSavannah Georgia, Panama City Beach and Lake County Ohio Visitors Bureau take the lead.

In terms of total pins, VisitSavannah Georgia, Visit Philly, Explore Georgia, Boston USA and Temple CVB rank at the top of that list. Here’s the breakdown of all 413 DMOs: …

Things I learned this week: Dec 3

Wow, I’ve been slacking on my blog. It’s been two weeks but I’m back! There’s nothing more intoxicating than the sounds of a giggling child! Dave’s 9-yr old niece stayed the weekend and I had a blast! She loves animals and gave my dogs a TON of attention. Chip starts clicker training tonight. He’s beginning…

Things I learned this week: Nov 19

I’m so glad it’s a new week. Last week was pretty intense and I never want to have another one like it. Sleep alone doesn’t fix exhaustion. It feels great to catch up. Pin of the week:

CVBs on Pinterest: November Update

Another month has gone by and my list of CVBs on Pinterest has grown to nearly 400 DMOs!

Below are the rankings for 396 DMOs, sorted by total followers. Pinterest data in this blog post was collected on November 1, 2012.

Best Practices

As I was collecting my data, I came across several inconsistencies in how accounts were branded. Here are a few details that should not be missed.

Profile Picture: Some logos are too small while others are cropped strangely to fit into a square. Be sure to upload a logo or photo that is at least 165×165 pixels but Pinterest recommends 600×600 pixels. If you don’t already have a square logo, get one designed right away. You can use it on Twitter, Facebook and nearly all of your social media channels.

Profile: If I’m unsure whether a profile is official or not, I usually click on their website link and look for “CVB” mentioned somewhere on the site. There are a lot of travel agencies, especially for international destinations, that are using “Visit” or “Explore” followed by the destination’s name. I tediously check this because I want my list to only contain official CVBs and DMOs, not travel agencies, chambers, cities, etc.

Several accounts do not list websites in their profiles. Why is this important? Pinterest now allows you to verify your website and displays a check mark on your profile page as well as in search results.  Check out VisitSavannah Georgia as an example.

You also have the option of listing your Twitter and/or Facebook profiles. The problem with this right now is that you can’t list a Facebook page, just a Facebook profile. My recommendation would be to list your Twitter account here but do no link them together so that all of your pins automatically tweet. I feel that all organizations and businesses should have a social media content strategy and that linking accounts so things automatically tweet can easily produce over-sharing and possibly lead to people unfollowing your account.

Business Account: Pinterest just rolled out an option for businesses last week. You can convert your account to a business account by going to http://business.pinterest.com. Currently there doesn’t seem to be a lot of benefits for converting your account but since Pinterest is working on separating business accounts from personal accounts, there must be a plan to help businesses promote themselves better on this platform. Will it be free? My guess is that eventually there will be some sort of fee for specific business features or advertisement in the future.

Who are the most active DMOs?

Things I learned this week: Nov 11

Remember when you were younger and you counted down for a special occasion? That was me last week. Only 350-some days until SoMeT13! The best part of SoMeT was seeing my friends. There’s a core group of us Tourism Geeks that only get to see each other once or twice a year. Some of these…

Tourism Talk: Daniel Horsch and #SoMeT12

If you’re interested in social media and the tourism industry, you’ve probably heard of SoMeT. The conference is happening this week in El Paso.

That’s right. El Paso.

Seems a little random, right? Wrong. Daniel Horsch and the El Paso CVB had a great team working with a solid strategy to bring the social media tourism conference to west Texas.

Here’s what Daniel had to say about SoMeT, social media and living the life of a Tourism Geek.

What was your role with the CVB? How long did you work there and how long have you worked in the tourism industry?

I served as the Social Media Coordinator with the El Paso CVB from August of 2010 through May of 2012. Before I broke into the tourism industry, I was a television reporter in the local news biz.

Besides winning SoMeT, what were some of your previous social media successes?

Before SoMeT, my biggest success was getting the opportunity to build Visit El Paso’s social media presence. I was fortunate enough to have a great support staff and a community that understood the importance of social media. In less than two years, we had become THE source for information about what’s going on in the city of El Paso.

How do you see social media further changing in the tourism industry?…