Select Traveler

NOV-DEC 2016

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8 N O V E M B E R / D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 6 BY ELIZA MYERS U nsure of how Commerce Lexington's 1,700 members would react, Katie Hardwick off ered the chamber's fi rst tour in 2011 to an ambitious fi rst destination: China. "We wanted to try travel as a non-dues-revenue op- tion, so we decided to dip our toe into travel with a trip to China," said Hardwick, assistant vice president of programs and events for Commerce Lexington in Lexington, Kentucky. Sixty-six people signed up. After that trip, what started as a tentative venture became a runaway success. "We were impressed with how many people wanted to go to China," said Hardwick. "We set up some meetings, so there was a business side to it. But we had some people who only wanted to go on a leisure tour." Surprised at the immediate success of the program, Hardwick has continued to hone in on what makes their chamber travel program so Born: Lexington, Kentucky Education: Hardwick has a B.A. in communications and music from the University of Kentucky. Employment: Hardwick transitioned from a 13-year job as a travel agent to working at Commerce Lexington. She has been with the chamber for 11 years. Family: Hardwick is married and has two daughters. Hobbies: Hardwick spends her free time playing the cello, watching old movies and traveling. Located in central Kentucky, Com- merce Lexington has 1,700 mem- bers. The chamber's travel program began in 2011 as a way of raising non-dues revenue. Both members and nonmembers can travel with the chamber, although members receive a discount. L E X I N G TO N , K E N T U C K Y COMMERCE LEXINGTON INC. strong with a carefully thought-out method to choosing, marketing and running future tours. e travel program is not just a way of raising funds for the chamber; it has also become a way to solidify relationships with its members. FORTUNATE NEIGHBORS Hardwick's fi rst venture into the travel industry world came sev- eral years earlier when she lucked into a job as a travel agent. "My neighbors owned a travel agency, and they gave me my fi rst job," said Hardwick. "After three years there, I started working in cor- porate travel and loved it." After 13 years as a travel agent, Hardwick felt well versed in travel, although she had no idea she'd return to planning group trips when she joined the chamber 11 years ago. ese days, Hardwick marvels K A T I E H A R D W I C K ASSISTANT VICE PRESIDENT, P R O G R A M S A N D E V E N T S checking in W I T H K A T I E H A R D W I C K Commerce Lexington members pose in front of a Croatian town. A castle in Croatia Chamber tour of Dubai

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