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Destiny USA tries to make it a comfortable destination for tour bus drivers

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Bus drivers who bring customers to Destiny USA in Syracuse won't be waiting in their buses for passengers to finish shopping anymore. The mall has created a new bus drivers lounge and the idea is to expand on what is already a big source of shoppers at the Syracuse mall.

In what used to be a community room, the new lounge boasts comfortable leather furniture, big screen TVs, internet access and complementary snacks.

Destiny marketing director Rose Hapanowich got the idea for the lounge -- something that is uncommon in malls -- after an event in Toronto that featured a panel of bus drivers.

"And the feeling amongst the drivers was that attractions and facilities do everything they can for the consumer. They provide coupons, discounts, and sometimes gifts, but the driver is taken for granted."

And these drivers can be very influential when it comes to a bus tour's itinerary. So if you make these drivers happy, says Hapanowich, that puts Destiny on the top of their minds.

"If we're coming into central New York, we've got to stop at Destiny, because I know I can take a break, I can relax. My travelers will take a break, and so will I," she said.

The bus business is growing at Destiny.  There were more than 140 registered bus tours rolling into Destiny last year, and that number is up 77 percent for the first four months of this year. Mall manager Rob Schoeneck says the new outlet stores particularly appealing to the bus tour crowd.

"A lot of the bus tours are coming from north of the border.  We continue to hear they can't find the brands they can find here, in Canada.   The outlet component is a huge factor in where they go to spend their money," said Schoeneck.

Onondaga County officials are happy, noting the mall brings in $24 million in sales tax revenue to county coffers, half of that from people outside the area.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.