by Timothy Chipp
Niagara Gazette — A group of Delta Airlines sales representatives are in Niagara Falls this week for a business conference. But given the opportunity to get outside Tuesday and have a little fun, business was the last thing on their minds.
In fact, Tim Lotter, the airline giant's manager of international sales development, said the 75 Delta sales representatives had quite the time on the Maid of the Mist and at the Cave of the Winds during a bit of free time Tuesday.
The experience, he said, exceeded many of the visitors' expectations, ones dampened by previous visits to a site closer to their homes. He said many of the visiting representatives have visited Victoria Falls, a cataract located on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe in southern Africa.
But while Victoria Falls is actually a larger waterfall than Niagara, there isn't as much of an opportunity to get the experience of the power of the rushing water.
It's the power and force so close at hand which pushed many of the visitors over the edge into giddiness and excitement, he said.
"They were just in awe," he said. "We did the Maid of the Mist (Tuesday) morning and they were like little kids. At the Cave of the Winds, you should have seen them on the hurricane deck. They were all like little kids."
The group of visitors included some of the company's top sales representatives from 22 African and Middle Eastern countries, including Egypt, Ghana, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Nigeria, Palestine, Saudi Arabia and South Africa.
An annual Delta conference, the focus has been on bringing sales representatives to places other than the major American cities like New York or Los Angeles. Recently, Delta has also put an emphasis company-wide on New York State travel and figured bringing the group to this region would accomplish both goals, Lotter said.
"Many of our sales reps know New York City as a destination," he said. "Not as many of them venture one step further to the Buffalo and the Niagara Frontier area. So we wanted to show them what is available so they'd be able to promote it back home with all of their clients."
While in Niagara Falls until Thursday, the group is working closely with the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corp. for the best visit possible. They've worked closely with the tourism group to ensure the visit included the Cave of the Winds and Maid of the Mist visits. They also took a ride Tuesday on the Whirlpool Jet Boats while eating at The Como Restaurant and Becker Farms in Gasport.
The pairing had both organizations singing each other's praises. John Percy, president and chief executive officer of NTCC, said he's hopeful the group's visit will permanently open the eyes of the representatives and encourage them to take their experiences back home to their clientele.
“We are pleased to see that Niagara USA is appealing to Delta Air Lines’ top employees and that they chose us as their fall meeting destination,” Percy said. “I am confident this international audience will share what Niagara USA has to offer to their clients when they return home.”