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January 2020

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Five Reasons Why: Las Vegas

April 24, 2019
Las Vegas is a favorite of our non-profit fundraising auction travel package destinations for some of our partner organizations, and it’s easy to see why: With its reputation as “American’s Playground” and the sheer number of activities on offer, it’s an easy sell. Coming up with five reasons why your donors would want to travel to the Nevada desert is easy. But, as you’ll see below, the Las Vegas Strip, while awe-inspiring on its own, isn’t the only game in town. Here’s a look at five reasons why your supports should want to head to Sin City – including some you may not know.

The Spectacle: It’s what makes Las Vegas famous, after all. There are the greatest hits of world monuments (Statue of Liberty! The pyramids! The Eiffel Tower!), all replicated along the Strip and lit up at night. There’s the Fremont Street Experience, a 1,500-foot long screen made of 12.5 million LED lights. And there’s the High Roller, the mid-Strip observation wheel that takes visitors more than 500 feet above it all.

The Food and Drinks: It’s no longer a secret that Las Vegas has a tremendous culinary scene, ranging from the Strip’s superstar cook-led eateries (look for big names like Gordon Ramsey and Giada De Laurentiis, for instance) to one of America’s best Chinatowns for Chinese cuisine. White tablecloths? Sure, but you can also get an award-winning slice of pizza. We’re long past the era of the questionable 99-cent shrimp cocktail.

The History: Sin City isn’t exactly Europe when it comes to its age, but Las Vegas’ founding and culture has created both stories and artifacts worth exploring. At the Mob Museum, exhibits on everything from Prohibition to the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre tell the story of the mafia’s influence in southern Nevada. Down the road at the Neon Museum, the history of Las Vegas is told through its distinctive signage, and a light show brings these artifacts back to life.

The Shopping: Outlet malls sit right across the street from Fendi stores in Las Vegas – shopping may be the leading sin in Sin City. Donors who bring an empty suitcase can fill it with clothes from world-renowned designers, stunning jewelry, and even desert knick-knacks from the local creators at the Downtown Container Park, an outdoor mall with stores in shipping containers (and, since it’s Las Vegas, a little spectacle – a giant fire-breathing mantis sculpture out front).

The Pools: It makes sense that a city which sometimes reaches high temperatures of 120 degrees during the summer would live by its pool scene. But there’s a manmade body of water for everyone on the Strip, whether it’s the family friendly MGM Grand Pool or the wild party of Marquee Dayclub at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. Grab a poolside drink, get some reading done in a cabana, or splash around with people from all over the world.

Tax Refund Travel

April 17, 2019

Tax season (for most of us) is in the rear-view window. Now, avoiding the temptation to sprint to the mailbox each day to look for your tax return is the task (if you’ve got one coming, it’ll be there soon!). However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t plan for what to do with that return now. And if your donors are looking at getting back some money from the government, they might be ready to go on vacation – and help their favorite charity at the same time!

Tax refund travel is popular as a way of utilizing what some see as “bonus money” towards an experience that your donors may never forget. And even those who get smaller refunds can find a great getaway in our Destinations of Excellence® catalog.

Offer one (or more!) of these trip ideas at your upcoming gala auction, and you could send your supporters on an unforgettable adventure – with refund money.

For those of your supporters who plan their taxes out to minimize their payments during the year, refunds can seem too small to go anywhere beyond the local mall. But our “Outstanding Resorts in Mexico” travel package is set up exactly for those who want to support their favorite non-profit but may not have the vast resources to do so. The package can start as low as $499, with four nights at a four- or five-star resort; it’s a perfect way to reserve a home base for a trip at a price that can’t be beat.

Those who get slightly larger refunds might think about using that for some boat time. Partly because of tax refunds and partly because of the season, cruises are big this time of year. Whether it’s the southern Caribbean, the Mediterranean Sea or even the waters of Alaska, cruises can combine the best of creature comforts with sight seeing in multiple countries. It can be a relaxing trip, or a sampler platter with which to explore future vacation ideas. With so many customizable options, your donors can take control of the itinerary, all for the cost of this year’s tax refund.

Do your donors want the feeling of going abroad on a domestic budget? Consider some of our favorite Canadian destinations. A trip to Montreal (like our “Canadian Luxury on the St. Lawrence” package) feels very close to a trip to France, with its Francophile culture and Old World architecture. Meanwhile, though it has the nickname “The Canadian Rockies,” the area around Baniff makes you feel like you’re in the Swiss Alps as much as possible (without taking a very, very long flight).

Stretch Your Donor’s Dollar

April 10, 2019
We want your donors to feel as free as possible to bid big when one of our non-profit fundraising auction travel packages comes up for bids at your gala auction. But we also want to help you offer your supporters trips to stunning locales with luxurious touches.

The good news: There are plenty of ways to help your donors stretch their dollars without compromising how much you raise. It’s not about offering “inexpensive” or “budget” vacations as much as it is where the bids are going; your donors would rather have that money flowing directly to you, to help you in your worthy cause. And one of the ways of assisting with that goal is to offer trips with savings opportunities at the destination.

For example, now is the time for Americans to head abroad, if exchange rates are the metric. The U.S. dollar is especially strong currently against the Euro, with one dollar fetching .89 Euro, which is one of the best rates since 2003. This makes trips that can be costly on the ground (think expensive cities like Paris) pack a little less of a sticker shock when your supporters arrive in a European country. Strong exchange rates against the British Pound and the Canadian Dollar also open possibilities in cities like London, Toronto and Vancouver.

Also, some destinations have a winder variety of free activities and sights on offer. Cities like New York, Los Angeles and Las Vegas are famous for this; it costs nothing to wander Times Square or walk under the LED show at Vegas’ Fremont Street Experience. But searching for free entertainment doesn’t mean having to stay in an urban area; in Costa Rica, for instance, all of the national parks offer free entrance, giving visitors a chance to explore the wonders of the rainforests there without pulling out a wallet first.

Finally, one way that donors who don’t want to lay out too much more money at a destination can keep their wallets closed is by paying up front, via an all-inclusive package. We’ve written about these kinds of trips before, but a quick summary: All-inclusive travel packages roll the cost of food, drinks and other amenities all into the original price. Whether or not it actually saves a supporter money, the freedom of not worrying about paying for the day-to-day life on the road often feels like a better value.

The Luxe of the Luxe

April 03, 2019
Luxury can be tough to define. The cut-off line between a four- and five-star hotel is murky, and with the word bandied about in advertising at a constant rate, “luxury” isn’t an easily definable concept – most of the time.

But there are some properties, some activities, and even some cities for which the word seems to have been invented. Offer one of these destinations or accommodations at your next big event, and you don’t even have to use the word “luxury” to describe it.

No community in Southern California says luxury quite like Beverly Hills. The city, surrounded by Los Angeles and West Hollywood on all sides, features the world-famous Rodeo Drive, with shops like Burberry, Fendi and Gucci, among many others. And with $1,000 in shopping spree money from our travel package to the 90210, your donors are on their way to even bringing some of that luxury home – if they can fit it all in the overhead compartment. Some of the Los Angeles area’s best restaurants are here as well, like Mastro’s Steakhouse and CUT by Wolfgang Puck.

For accommodations, there’s been one name burned in American’s heads when it comes to luxury: The Plaza. The five-start New York landmark opened in 1907, and it’s been one of the city’s most desirable stays ever since. It’s been an official National Historic Landmark since 1986, and one step inside shows why; with so many of the original details preserved, it’s like walking directly into “The Great Gatsby” (no coincidence, of course: the hotel is a character within F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece).

An ocean away, the Brits have their own revered hotel: The Savoy. After a 100-million-pound renovation at the beginning of the decade, the five-star head turner is back to its former glory, which dates all the way to 1889. Afternoon tea is a luxurious must here, both for the event itself and the gorgeous view of the Thames River in the appropriately-named Thames Foyer. And being located less than 10 miles from the Theatre District means dinner at the Savoy can easy transition to box seats for a theatrical experience unlike any other.

If your donors’ view of luxury doesn’t involve this many people, though, we’ve got the perfect trip: How about a weeklong stay on a private island off the coast of Belize? A 3,000-square foot villa waits for your supporters, with its own private chef and sommelier. But when not in service, the team leaves the isle, and your donors can be enjoying a luxurious stay, as far from the city life as possible. (For those who want at least a little interaction, the island is a short boat ride away from Placencia Village, with restaurants, bars and a casino.)