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BankTravel 101 — Organization’s role in group travel

When bank travel directors are interviewed for a profile in this magazine, they often tout the importance of organization.

Linda Holm, director of Texas Travelers at Texas First Bank in Texas City, thoroughly agrees but bravely speaks for many bank directors when she admits that her office “looks like a bomb went off.”

Holm’s major complaint with her abundance of paper surely reflects the thoughts of others.

“I’m so nervous about my computer crashing, so I keep paper back-up on everything,” she said with a sigh. “I’m not skilled enough to know absolutely everything about the computer, and indeed, I have had it crash. I’ve had my email hacked, and I’ve lost everything.

“I’m in a conundrum because I don’t want all this paper, but I can’t throw it away until I’m absolutely sure I won’t need it.

“The nature of this job makes organization critically important but impossible at the same time,” Holm continued. “This job involves marketing, administrative duties, trip planning, taking people with health issues on our travels, calls on the phone — I could go on and on. It’s extremely hard to do it all, but for me, the most important thing is that I’m organized enough to take care of my people when we’re on the road and take care of any crises that occur.”

From Tech-Frazzled to Tech-Savvy

On the other end of the spectrum, Marsha Scherer, director of Travel Masters at the Bank of Siloam Springs in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, humbly admits that she and her work partner and husband, Frank, are computer geeks. As a result, they not only have an abundance of organized spreadsheets for every trip, but they also create and print their own marketing tools, including a calendar that contains all trips and events for the following year that is completed by December for distribution. They also are the creators and keepers of Travel Masters’ Web page, a Facebook page and all things computer related.

These tech wizards are careful, however, not to place too much confidence in sometimes-temperamental computers.

“We have one notebook for every trip,” said Scherer. “Yes, we do have paper backup. Frank’s drawers are full of notebooks, and we physically take the appropriate notebook on the trip.”

Scherer, who concedes that she has had to apologize for being overly organized, thinks a major key to their success is the calendar that alerts group members to Travel Masters activities for an entire 12 months. “Our belief is that people like to plan ahead. They can hang that calendar in their kitchen, post their own doctor’s appointments or any personal agendas and then look at what we are offering. They can pick and choose their favorites, budget their finances and time appropriately and schedule with us way in advance.

“As travel directors, the calendar forces us to be organized. By December, we have scheduled and confirmed all venues for perhaps 15 trips for the next year. This is work you do anyway — we just do it earlier than many, and it is a tremendous advantage. Most importantly, the calendars are obviously a huge boost to the success of our club because at the beginning of December, members are marching into the bank asking for them in anticipation for planning their upcoming year.

“The calendar has so many other advantages. First, our bank and phone number are publicly displayed in homes all year long. All necessary information is on that calendar, including our website and Facebook page. Also, our members can see when Frank and I are on trips so they don’t call or visit during those times.”

Scherer realizes that her travelers, many who are considered senior citizens, are becoming more technically savvy every day.

“We recently took a 13-day trip, and at least one-half of our customers had iPhones and iPads,” she reported. “Two years ago, there may have been one member. Our ability to market, spread news and even increase membership via technology has exploded with the added benefit of less paper.

“The fact that our customers have become more involved in technology has helped our organization skills.”

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