Mom, writer, dude ranch fan: Nancy Schretter
SMART RANCH TRAVELER
At the recent Dude Ranchers’ Association Annual Convention in Cody, Wyoming, one of the keynote speakers was Nancy Schretter (at left), Managing Editor of The Family Travel Network. That’s the award-winning family travel site featured on the The Today Show, CNN, America Online, Parents Magazine and in USA Today.
Ranchweb’s own Gene Kilgore attended the conference and was impressed with Schretter’s talk. “It was upbeat and positive,” says Kilgore, “ explaining how much guest ranches have to offer to families and how guest ranch owners can position a ranch vacation as a multisport family travel outlet.” So we set out to learn more about Schretter and her online Family Travel Network (FTN).
Launched in 1995, FTN serves readers as an’ unbiased source of family travel advice, reviews, bargains, and articles by travel industry experts’. According to the website, FTN is the nation’s ‘oldest and most comprehensive free online site devoted exclusively to family travel and planning great vacations with kids’. Based in McLean, VA, FTN is produced by Beacon Interactive, a division of The Beacon Group, Inc.
FTN’s Managing Editor, Nancy Schretter, is an award-winning travel journalist and editor, mom, and a busy gal. But in between deadlines, we pinned Schretter down for a brief chat with her to talk about how she got into the world of family travel, how dude ranches can work best in a families’ vacation plans, and how ranchers can work smarter to appeal to families.
Here is Ranchweb’s Q&A session with Schretter:
Ranchweb: How did you get started with FTN?
Schretter: The Beacon Group (parent company of the Family Travel Network) was publishing newsletters in 1995 and we saw the need for more information on family and multi-generational travel. America Online (AOL) came to us to talk about partnering to take some of our other newsletters online. I told AOL about the family travel newsletter and they suggested that we do it online with them. It turned out to be a winning combination—we launched and grew with AOL, reaching hundreds of thousands of families. Eventually, we moved out onto the Internet where our content can be seen by everyone.
Ranchweb: How is FTN’s coverage different from other travel sites?
Schretter: The Family Travel Network is an independent, award-winning online travel magazine providing unbiased coverage of family travel destinations and lodging options. The site provides extensive firsthand destination information and city guides; detailed reviews of resorts, cruises and lodging options; lots of family trip planning advice; a wide variety of vacation ideas; “been there-done that” family travel tips; money-saving hot deals; and more. We do not sell travel of any kind, so we can cover whatever we think is best with no hidden agendas. Our articles are written by seasoned family travel journalists and travel industry experts who are also moms and dads who travel extensively with their own families. Our coverage is widespread, so we have information on great family places that are around the corner or across the globe.
Ranchweb: We heard you’ve taken a ranch vacation in New York. What did you love most about your dude ranch trip?
Schretter: Our family loved the horses, the outdoors, and all of the cool things there were to do. My kids and I were very into horses and animals, so that was a huge attraction. There were lots of activities that we could do as a family, which made for great memories and bonding experiences. In addition to all of the horseback and pony rides, there were sports activities, water fun, kids programs and lots of evening activities, too. The kids liked the sing-alongs. We packed a ton of fun into our short time there. The fact that it was all-inclusive was also a big plus.
Ranchweb: How can the dude ranching industry (and ranches specifically) work harder to get its message out to the world of family travel – especially to moms?
Schretter: Picking the right ranch can be a confusing process, and Moms are always stressed for time when searching for the perfect family vacation. That’s why I love Ranchweb. It’s a great informational resource for families. Ranchweb cuts through all the Internet clutter and helps parents find the perfect match between their family’s need and interests and what individual ranches offer. That’s a real time saver!
When I started looking into ranches, I was blown away by the number and types of ranch experiences that are available for families. There are so many different options, and there’s definitely a ranch to suit almost every type of family. There’s no one “set” ranch experience, so it’s important to get rid of any preconceived notions. Parents need to understand that there are also so many different things that families can do on a ranch. It’s more like a multi-sport vacation: you can do horseback riding, hiking, fly fishing, rafting, swimming, mountain biking, and so much more. It’s impossible to get bored!
Moms need to hear how well a ranch vacation works for all ages – from younger children, ‘tweens and teens all the way up to grandparents. Ranches need to get their message out to everywhere moms are: online, via social media, print, and broadcast. It’s also important to hear the message from moms who have taken ranch vacations so they can get firsthand information and an accurate feel for all the activities and what makes ranches so great for families. I also think that people need to understand how great the owners and staff are. That’s definitely a big part of the ranch vacation appeal. It’s families catering to families, and that makes it very special.
Ranchweb: Thanks, Nancy! We hope moms who follow the Family Travel Network will try Ranchweb to help them in their search for the perfect ranch vacation. And we’ll make sure to ask our readers to take a gander at The Family Travel Network.