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Who’s Right for Which Island?

May 30, 2018
When one thinks of Hawaii, the first thoughts usually turn towards the beaches, sand running into the waves of an impossibly blue ocean. Even with a volcano disrupting a small amount of travel on the big island, the water still beckons. But while it’s possible to spend every day of a weeklong Hawaiian adventure relaxing on those ocean fronts, getting caught up on reading, at some point the average visitor will want more. The good news? Hawaii has a diversity of experiences that appeal to all types of people.

Mitch-Stuart offers non-profit fundraising auction travel packages that cover four of Hawaii’s islands, and each one has its own strengths to offer your donors. If you’re thinking about what your supporters may want to see during your auction or raffle, think about pairing personality types with destinations, using this guide.

For the Eclectic: On the “big island,” visitors can hike to ruins, wander among artists and still be done in time to hit the beach. As one might expect of the state’s biggest island, Hawaii has the most diverse slate of offerings; if your donors want to go to Hawaii but don’t quite know why, this is a great option. Its also the center of transportation options within the state, making it a great home base if island-hopping is a consideration.

For the Romantic: Maui is the King of the Destination Wedding. The island is constantly written up in magazines and on websites as one of the best places to go to get married. That feature trickles down to the rest of Maui as well; cocktail cruises, beautiful road trips and horseback tours are perfect activities for couples.

For the Socialite: Oahu welcomed the most tourists to its shores in 2017, and one estimate puts the number of visitors specifically to Waikiki Beach at more than four million annually. Oahu might have the best confluence of island life and nightlife available in the state, with great restaurants and bars, almost all featuring gorgeous views of the ocean. During the day, there’s plenty of history to observe, too, including the monuments at Pearl Harbor.

For the Wanderer: Every island on Hawaii has natural beauty, but Kauai might have the best combination of scenery and solitude. Every island is popular, of course, but Kauai doesn’t have the frenzy of a Waikiki Beach or the energy of the big island. Instead, it’s a little easier to get lost on the beaches of Princeville or the greenery of one of the island’s forest reserves (Kauai has earned its nickname of “Garden Isle”).

From the Catalog: Door-to-Beach

May 23, 2018
The unofficial kickoff to summer is closing in; Memorial Day is the first major holiday of the year when travelers – including your donors – dream of setting bare feet in the sand and watching the waves roll in.

As your supporters start to look towards beachside vacations, we wanted to spotlight some of the trips from our catalog that feature resorts not just in coastal towns, but where the sand is just steps from the hotel room (or private residence!) door. If your donors want to stay in flip-flops as much as possible, here are five places to start.

Bermuda: The “Old-World Splendor, British Flavor, Exotic Flair” involves as stay at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess and Beach Club, and as the title would indicate, the resort is steps from the isle’s blue water and pink sand. Your supporters can take advantage of everything from jet ski tours to a new public art program throughout the resort with works by Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst, among others.

Florida: There’s plenty to do along Space Coast in Florida, but when the beach is calling, it’s hard to resist, you know? Hilton Cocoa Beach Oceanfront is steps from the water, and features on-site surf lessons, bike rentals, and even a beachside Tiki bar and restaurant. And considering that the “Blast Off to Florida’s Space Coast” package also includes lunch with an astronaut and admission to the Kennedy Space Center, your supporters will never lack for activities.

What if the “resort” was actually a picture-perfect full home rental? Donors who win our “Central America's Snorkeling and Diving Mecca” will stay at a home that opens directly onto the beach, with three bedrooms and three bathrooms, making it great for families or a group traveling together. And once your supporters have settled in, they’ll have plenty of chances to make best use of that oceanfront property, with a 400-foot dock leading visitors to a swim-length distance from the Mesoamerican coral reef system – the second-largest in the world (behind the Great Barrier Reef)!

Bali: This wellness capital has become a magnet for tourists over the past few years, and beachside resorts like the all-suites Fairmont Sanur Beach Bali are one reason why. Your donors can enjoy a beachside retreat, with an uninterrupted 5 km-long footpath that runs along the coast, or grab a meal at the Nyala Beach Club and Grill, situated with just a luxury pool between the coastal waters and your supporters’ chairs.

Santa Barbara: Combine great wine with beautiful beaches at the Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort and our “An Oasis Between the Ocean and the Foothills” package. Get a good look at the beach from most common areas in the resort (even the fitness center!), and especially from the picnic-worthy grass between the Hilton and the shoreline. And enjoy a great local wine selection at The Set, a bar directly off the lobby with firepits and, again, that sandy view.

Summer Travel Trends

May 16, 2018
From school days through life, summer is the season most associated with travel. In a USA Today list of the ten busiest travel days in the year, summer (or what we associate with summer – hi, Memorial Day weekend!) claims four spots, including the catch-all “Fridays in Summer.” Even if your donors don’t have kids (and therefore could conceivably travel during any season of the year), there’s still something special about that summer vacation.

Mitch-Stuart stays abreast of travel plans so that we can keep our partners up-to-date with what their donors might desire for a summer jaunt. For the upcoming summer of 2018, there are a few ideas for trips that have been popping up repeatedly, and we offer non-profit fundraising auction travel packages that can satiate any of these cravings.

What’s popular for this summer? Here’s a brief list:

Wine – Every season’s a good season for a foodie-based adventure. For the summer, though, wine is quickly becoming the star; those winery tours are a lot easier to take during good weather. On Pinterest, searches or “wine tour” are up more than 200 percent.

Active Retreats – Wellness retreats have been the stars of travel over the past few years, but in 2018, it’s their active relatives in the spotlight. Bali, for instance, is a yoga haven, but many travelers are opting for surfing in southeast Asia as much as they are for downward-facing dog. Coastal destinations where travelers can learn a new sport or activity have become very attractive.

Bleisure – We’ve written about this combination of business and leisure travel before, but with many offices giving employees the occasional Friday off during the season, starting a trip in the office and ending it on a beach is more practical during the summer than any other time.

Orlando – A survey by Allianz cited the home of Disney World as the top summer destination, and it’s easy to see why: Bringing the kids on vacation for longer than a weekend could require a lot to keep them busy, and Disney World is nothing if not “a lot.” But Orlando has more beyond the Mouse to offer, like a burgeoning wine scene. (New York and Las Vegas were second and third on Allianz’s list, for the record.)

Near and Far – According to AAA, plans for the summer are split between staying in-state, staying in the region (around 30 percent each) traveling across the country and international travel (around 20 percent each). With each of these categories polling so close together, it might be better for your non-profit to reach out to supporters and find out where they’re thinking about traveling.

Holiday Shopping … at Your Auction!

May 09, 2018
Mother’s Day is this Sunday – we’re hoping we didn’t just induce panic – and it’s around this time that many start to think about gifts. The “last-minute presents” stories are being written, and florists are making a killing. But with a little forward thinking, your supporters can be sending their mothers on an adventure of a holiday instead.

Mitch-Stuart creates non-profit fundraising auction travel packages for all purposes, and one that’s popular is gift-giving. Do your donors have some people in their lives that are tough to shop for? Our trips can make great presents on all sorts of holidays. Birthdays and Christmas are obvious ones, of course, but there are plenty of other times of year that can be brightened by the gift of travel.

Does mom have a soft spot for the Louvre? Does dad want to learn how to cook from world-class chefs in New York? Mother’s and Father’s Days can be the home of cliché gifts, like ties and flowers, but instead how about indulging a parent’s interest and sending them on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure? Or maybe give the gift of a family reunion in a travel-worthy destination; our “Villas and Residences” packages make room for more people, and multigenerational travel has become a popular gift on its own. Your donors can skip the usual and go for the spectacular present that they know will send the biggest “thank you” to mom and/or dad.

Your donors with kids may be in the market for a big graduation gift, as well, and travel is a favorite. Instead of the college graduate going backpacking across Europe, parents can make sure their offspring have a roof over their head along their travels. And they can see a lot, too; if a supporter’s kid is looking for that memory-making jaunt on the Old Continent to places like France, Spain, Italy and even the Czech Republic, the parent can make it happen.

Another gift-giving opportunity where a travel package might be welcome is a wedding. If your donors have family members getting married, buying them a trip to Bali, Italy or another far-flung destination can be a wonderful gesture. It may be important to check in with the bride and groom first, and early, too: Your purchase could take the place of their honeymoon, and the couple may not have time to take two long trips in their first year. But a little forethought can take a big planning load off the pair’s shoulders, and that might be as big a gift as the actual travel!

How To Do Derby Day

May 02, 2018
One of our favorite sports-related trips in our catalog takes donors to the Kentucky Derby, the most famous horse race in America. It’s one of the biggest events of the sports year on its own, with people from coast to coast throwing their own Derby parties, and the added prize of the winner going for the Triple Crown (winning the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes) makes it that much more exciting.

You can send your supporters to the race with a couple of our non-profit fundraising auction travel packages, and with the 2018 edition just days away, we wanted to talk about what makes the race so special – the traditions. It’s one of the oldest sporting events in the country, dating back to 1875, and over that time it’s built up an interesting collection of rituals that set it apart. If you’ve got donors interested in the Kentucky Derby, here’s what they should know before your gala auction.

First, and the most visually-striking tradition, is the big hats. The Kentucky Derby took inspiration from a similar horse race in England, the Epsom Derby, and with race itself came this tradition, as Ronnie Dreistadt told U.S. News and World Report. It was also conceived as a way to help attract women to the track. Today, the hats are costume-like in nature, an important add-on for any attendee. It makes for great photos at the event, and if a donor wins one of our Derby packages, he or she can even buy and keep their own special headwear as a souvenir.

Where the National Anthem would usually be played before a sporting event, the Derby has its own. “My Old Kentucky Home” started its life as an anti-slavery song, created in the 1850s by acclaimed musician Stephen Foster (“Oh! Susanna” and “Camptown Races” are just two other of his compositions). By the 1930s, it had become a staple of the pre-race pageantry, performed by the University of Louisville marching band. If your donors are at the race, they should study the lyrics beforehand; it usually becomes a sing-a-long in the audience.

And finally, there’s no more traditional drink on the day of the Derby than the mint julep. It is so popular at Churchill Downs that in the 1930s, the racecourse started pouring them in souvenir cups, just because their regular ones were “disappearing” on race day. It’s a must-have at the track, and a must-make at home: Just combine mint simple syrup, bourbon and a splash of water. It’s great throughout the year, but it takes on a different feel while singing “My Old Kentucky Home” pre-race at the Downs.

Want to send your donor to next year’s Kentucky Derby? Let us show you how; reach out to talk with us about this or hundreds of other fundraising travel auctions.