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Reliving College

August 29, 2018
Across the country, parents are dropping kids off at colleges this week, getting them set for the semester ahead and maybe sneaking in a tour of the campus, as well. It can be an emotional time for both sides of the equation. But at any other time of the year, college campuses can make for tremendous attractions, with their landscaping, architecture and student life.

Throughout our non-profit fundraising auction travel package catalog, there are destinations that list colleges among their attractions. It’s where some architectural gems are hidden, where great performance spaces are enjoyed, and where a spirit exists that can take any donor back to their glory days “on campus.” Want to help a supporter scratch that nostalgic itch? Here’s are some of our favorite cities with picturesque institutes of higher learning.

Boston is one of our favorite destinations, and along with the history and the great restaurant scene, it’s also a stunner thanks to the local colleges. Of course, Harvard Yard is a well-known attraction, but your donors shouldn’t do a visit to Cambridge without seeing Annenberg Hall, which one would swear is straight out of “Harry Potter.” And in the suburbs, College of Holy Cross has an admissions building that is on the National Register of Historic Places. Both are on Conde Nast Traveler’s list of most beautiful campuses for a reason.

Amid the wonderful architecture of London, the sights to see at King’s College and University College stand out. The Wilkins Building at the latter stands out as picture-worthy; it hosts the main library, the dome and the Cloisters, and is Grade 1 listed (the equivalent of a historic designation in America). At King’s College, the Strand Campus in central London is home of the appropriately-named King’s Building, with lobby sculptures and other historic elements on display.

In Los Angeles, the big college rivalry is between University of California, Los Angeles and the University of Southern California, but both have their visit-worthy charms. UCLA is set in the picturesque Westwood neighborhood, and its Royce Hall is a favorite for concerts (it’s one of the homes of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra). Across town, USC is the spot for Olympics fans; the Los Angeles Coliseum is on campus and was the host stadium of the 1984 Olympiad, and now is the temporary home of the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams.


Five Reasons Why: Paris

August 22, 2018
Paris is not a destination hurting for press. Travel guides consistently rate it as one of the top cities in the world for tourists. The Eiffel Tower is iconic. We love the city.

For our inaugural Five Reasons Why, we wanted to break down some – just some – of the things we love about the French capital, with some numbers, odd facts and bullet points that could help you sell your donors on a trip to the City of Light (not the City of Lights – more on that below).
  1. The Food: It’s rare that a cuisine is added to the UNESCO list of “Intangible Cultural Heritage,” but that’s how respected French food and chefs are around the world. The Michelin Guide, the world’s most well-respected handbook for restaurant ranking a description, could set up shop in Paris and never need content from anywhere else; there are ten eateries in the city which have achieved the honor of a three-star maximum rating (second only to Tokyo in the world).
  2. The Arts: The Louvre, the Musse d’Orsay … Paris is known for its iconic museums, and a newcomer would be wrong to skip over them. But art is Paris, be it painting, theater, music or something else, seems to spring from every crack in the ground. See a band, catch a show, or simply gaze at the architecture, and you’re connecting to a rich city-wide tradition.
  3. The Wine: Being the largest city in France means that Paris becomes the epicenter of the country’s wine production. Along with its own wineries, the best of the vineyards from around the world peddle their wares here, meaning that the wine lists at bars and restaurants tend to be epic in scope. (If you’ve got a specific favorite French varietal, we probably have a trip to its home region, as well – just ask!)
  4. The Sites: According to the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau, there are an astounding 2,185 monuments in the city. So, if you (or your donor) have seen the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe already, congrats! There’s only 2,183 remaining. It’s impossible to exhaust Paris’ supply of sights, and these structures are spread out across the city, meaning you’re never too far from a good photo opportunity.
  5. The Light: Believe it or not, the nickname “City of Light” doesn’t come from illumination of the visual variety. It’s a tribute to the city’s intellectual heft. But there’s still a lot of beautiful light shows throughout the city, with the most famous being the 20,000 bulbs of the Eiffel Tower. It’s a city that somehow gets more beautiful as the sun goes down.

Last Getaways

August 15, 2018
It can be seen in the kids’ eyes, that sneaking feeling, that their summer freedom is almost over. The “back to school” ads are all over the television. Summer reading lists are frantically being finished. And even in the middle of August, club and school sports teams are gearing up for practice.

There’s still time, though, to get away.

We think that all times of year are appropriate for our non-profit fundraising auction travel packages, but there are some that work best as those last hurrahs, those summer sendoffs before school (and all of the responsibility that entails) resumes. When your donors need that quick, last-minute vacation as August concludes, these are some of our favorite options.

Late August fun can be tough to obtain outdoors, thanks to stifling heat. But one place that always stays cool is the water park, and Mitch-Stuart has a trip custom-made for slide and splash pad enthusiasts. Your donors can pick which destination they’d like to visit and receive both accommodations and three days’ worth of passes to the local water park – and with more than 50 such cities from which to choose, your supporters are bound to find a place that makes a perfect adieu to summer.

If the kids are sports fans, August is also a great time to go to one of baseball’s great stadiums. Our “Go to Any Regular Season Game or PGA Tournament” package allows your donors to check out a game at some of the most stories fields in the majors; Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Wrigley Park and Dodger Stadium are all on offer. Couple that with a kid-friendly activity on the non-game day of the weekend (think children’s museums, perhaps, or that last beach adventure), and your supporters will have a brand-new set of vacation memories meant to last through the upcoming school year.

Finally, while attention this time of year tends to focus on Disneyland in Anaheim (and yes, we can take your donors there as well), a quick trip down I-5 from the Magic Kingdom can be a great end-of-summer celebration. San Diego has plenty for the family to do as well; the city’s zoo is legendary, of course, and Legoland has done nothing but grow in popularity thanks to the latest series of movies focused in on the block toys. Combine that with a temperate – even in August! – climate, and the southernmost California metropolis is a jewel of a vacation to squeeze in before the fall.


Fall In Love With Fall

August 08, 2018
While we at Mitch-Stuart love all of our non-profit fundraising auction travel packages, there are certain trips that just make more sense during particular seasons. If your donors love skiing, for instance, an adventure in the Canadian Rockies might be better suited to the winter, rather than the summer. Meanwhile, Palm Springs has attractions all year round, but most choose to avoid the 110-plus degree heat of July.

Even if it doesn’t boast of the obvious extremes of summer and winter, fall has its own particular feel, as well. There are certain destinations, activities and even trip lengths that make a little more sense as the leaves are changing, and the weather is cooling (but not necessarily cold). If you’re planning ahead and looking for travel packages that might be popular with your donors for a fall auction gala, think about these criteria.

First, look for destinations that vary wildly in climate between summer and winter. New York, for one, can be scorching in August and frozen in February. Spring in New York can be beautiful, but is inconsistent; one day it may snow, and the next it could be sunny and 70 degrees. The wider the discrepancy between winter and summer, the more likely that the fall season will be popular with your donors.

In addition, supporters generally (and supporters with families specifically) may be looking at shorter, weekend getaway-style trips for the fall. It’s often easier to take more time off during the summer, and with the kids out of school, there’s no homework to be missed. In the winter, the holiday season will often be the focal point of travel for your donors, and with a weeklong Thanksgiving break or the two-week “winter break” depending on the school system or place of employment, longer trips are often in vogue. The fall is the perfect time of year for a three-day excursion to see the leaves change color in New England, or to catch the last gasps of warm weather in Southern Florida.

Finally, the fall may be the busiest time of the year on the sports calendar. The NFL and college football are both in full swing, the NBA and NHL are starting, and baseball is reaching its climax. NASCAR and the PGA Tour are both building to their final events of the year, as well. If you’ve got donors who are sports fans, this might be the best season for them to take to the road and see their favorite team in action, especially in some travel-worthy destinations (taking in a ballgame at Fenway Park, for instance, or visiting the Dallas Cowboys’ massive stadium in Texas).


All-Inclusive

August 01, 2018
It started with Club Med, on Majorca, when a Belgian entrepreneur decided to package food, activities and shows together at his resorts for one price. Ideally, the tourist would not need to use their wallets while on the grounds. And from there, the “all-inclusive” vacation was born.

Mitch-Stuart has several of these “all-inclusive” vacations in its catalog of non-profit fundraising auction travel packages, some on land and some on the sea. Whether your donors want to sail to the Caribbean or live it up on a Colorado dude ranch, there are plenty of possibilities to take care of a bunch of your vacation plans in advance.

First, its important to know the difference between “all-inclusive” at a resort and on a cruise ship. On a boat, “all inclusive” may not include off-ship excursions or, in some cases, certain drinks (alcohol isn’t always included, for instance). Of course, if you want to know more specifics to tell your donors, you can always reach out to us to clarify. On the shore, meanwhile, resorts tend to include much more into the price, including activities at the property, drinks, and more. However, unlike many cruises, the evening entertainment tends to be less about shows and more about dancing.

If that is what resorts mean when they say “all-inclusive,” then what’s the advantage? For donors, they get to take care of all their essential needs before stepping on an airplane. Instead of having to call ahead for reservations or give out their credit card numbers over the phone to reserve that scuba adventure, they can travel with the peace of mind that comes from knowing they’ll be taken of at the resort. For the non-profit, it’s a little bit of extra funds raised; that food and those scuba lessons are factored into the trip’s price, meaning that when your supporters pay up front, you’re getting a cut. In addition, just the words “all inclusive” are tremendous tools for sales. Your donors will love the idea, and be willing to spend a little bit more knowing they won’t have to spend as much on the vacation itself.

A final question which we are often asked: What about tips? The good news: With every all-inclusive travel package that Mitch-Stuart sells, all gratuities are included. Your donors don’t have to worry about always having a few dollar bills on hand or figuring out the local customs.

Interested in finding out more about all-inclusive travel packages? Reach out!