Tara Lano, Marketing Professional at Liberty Travel, recently made the journey to Alaska to be a part of a brand new episode of Travel Channel’s “Hotel Impossible.” Tara, along with host Anthony Melchiorri and his crew, helped to transform a dilapidated fishing lodge in the middle of nowhere Alaska. We had the chance to sit down with Tara and ask her all about her adventure.
Tara, we hear that it was your first time to Alaska. Tell us, what were your first impressions on the final frontier?
Yakutat, Alaska is truly beautiful; that was evident the moment I walked off the airplane. The snowcapped mountains, ocean, lakes and rivers surrounding the town all look almost too perfect to be real and when I was not with the Hotel Impossible crew at the Glacier Bear Lodge, I was able to explore quite a bit. I saw glaciers, held part of an iceberg, walked Cannon Beach (you can still see cannons in the cliffs from World War II!), went fishing and had an immense animal count list which included 5 brown bears and 12 bald eagles among other things!
Glacier Bear Lodge needed lots of help! We saw in the show that everything in the guestrooms from the bed to the carpet to the toilet had to go. What was the worst part of the lodge before renovation?
The worst part for me was the shower. I do not like feeling like I need to wear shower shoes!
You helped comprise a Liberty Travel Marketing Plan for Glacier Bear Lodge valued you at $80,000. Can you detail what went into this plan?
Liberty Travel has had a partnership with the New York Times, Boston Globe and Philadelphia Inquiry for many years so my first thought automatically was to include a feature for the Glacier Bear Lodge in our Travel Section advertisements in each newspaper and their sister newspapers. We also were able to include Glacier Bear Lodge in various sections throughout LibertyTravel.com, emails blasts and they will also be attending three Travel Expos that are coming up this March and April. Potential clients need to know that the lodge even exists, and then need to know that Liberty Travel is ready and available to help them book their vacation to Yakutat.
When you told the owners that Liberty Travel was giving them the marketing for free to help save their business, how would you describe the response?
They were ecstatic and very thankful. I think I might have even seen a tear out of Rick! The Glacier Bear Lodge owners have been using their own personal savings to maintain and market, abet not affectively, the lodge and would have had to put some of their much needed renovations on hold in order to pay for their marketing plan. I am so happy we were able to help get them on the map and grow their business.
Could you see yourself making a trip back to Alaska to spend some time at Glacier Bear Lodge?
I would definitely love to go back! My friends and family have loved looking at the zillion pictures I took and want to experience the nature and fishing for themselves! It is a very different experience than fluke fishing off the Jersey Shore :) And there really is nothing quite like watching a bald eagle eating its lunch in a tree and five minutes later seeing a big brown bear 20 feet away from you!
And finally, we must know, is Anthony just as funny and crazy in real life as he is in the show?
Anthony is hysterical! When you are examining dirty guestroom linens, water damaged bathrooms and dilapidated roofs you need to have a sense of humor. Due to his extremely successful hospitality background and knowledge, it is understandable and expected that he would get a bit heated when hoteliers give excuses as to why they are not taking guests’ needs into consideration. There is no need to sugar coat to hoteliers what is wrong with their properties; they are looking for his advice and expertise and not for their hand to be held. All in all, he was a pleasure to work with and I think all hoteliers can learn a lot from him!
Missed the episode? Learn more about Hotel Impossible and check out behind-the-scenes photos on the Travel Channel’s website. If you’re interested in learning more about the newly renovated Glacier Bear Lodge in Yakutat, take a look at their current offers.
By Lara Nicotra