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BankTravel scores big in Baton Rouge

Nottoway Plantation

In Louisiana, they know their football. And their food. And their fun.

So it only makes sense that BankTravel 2011 was destined to become one of the highest-rated conferences for the bank travel industry in its 16-year history.

Held on Super Bowl weekend, February 6-8 in Baton Rouge, the BankTravel Conference brought together more than 160 banks with nearly 300 travel destinations and tour companies from throughout the world for three days of super-sized travel buying, education, outstanding entertainment and networking.

An unforgettable evening planned by the Baton Rouge Convention and Visitors Bureau helped to set the tone. With its partners, Nottoway Plantation, the Louisiana Office of Tourism, Louisiana Seafood Commission and others, the Visit Baton Rouge crew created an event that will be talked about for years to come.

The evening, themed Taste of Louisiana, was held at Nottoway Plantation and featured lavish amounts of Louisiana cuisine, tours of the stately Nottoway Plantation home and grounds, live music and a huge Super Bowl viewing tent.

“We loved it!” said Margaret Dean, director of the Alliant Bank’s Prestige program in Alexander City, Alabama. “The entire evening was so impressive. It all flowed so easily, the food was great — especially the shrimp and crab claws — the plantation was so gorgeous, and then our team won — that made it that much better! Even the bus trip out to Nottoway was fun!”

“This was a singular event,” said conference chairman Charlie Presley.  “All of us count our years in the travel industry by looking back on specific events tied to specific years. Anyone who attended that Taste of Louisiana event at Nottoway Plantation on Super Bowl night will remember that as the signature event of 2011.”

On the business side of things, busy travel industry members, including nearly four dozen major tour companies, averaged more than 30 appointments with highly coveted bank travel program directors in attendance. In total, more than 7,000 business meetings took place over the three days.

“Our Meet the Banker appointment ratios were really good in Baton Rouge, and from what we hear a lot of domestic and international travel was discussed and booked over the three days,” said BankTravel CEO Joe Cappuzzello. “The average bank in attendance produces six to eight major overnight trips per year, and some do as many as 24 trips per year, so the amount of travel they represent is enormous.”

The educational component of the conference was highlighted by its annual Breakout Sessions, where more than 150 banks from 27 states met to discuss operational issues specific to their programs; a social marketing seminar led by Jesse Torres, a Los Angeles-based bank president who has pioneered social marketing programs for his Latino customer base; and a panel discussion related to bringing baby boomers into bank travel programs that drew on the expertise of three bank travel program volunteers.

“Our thanks to Fran Ringle, Bank Midwest, in Kansas City, Missouri; Suzie Glisson of Jacksonville Savings Bank in Jacksonville, Illinois; and Donna Cafferata of Southern Heritage Bank in Alexandria, Louisiana; for their preparation and delivery of very useful information on this topic,” said panel moderator and BankTravel partner Mac Lacy.

The second evening event sponsor at BankTravel 2011 was next year’s host city, the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau, which brought native son Andy Childs to Baton Rouge to play to a frenzied crowd of dancers following a superb dinner.

“Andy Childs was fantastic,” said Janie Hedglin, director for Providence Bank’s PALS program, one of numerous delegates who went onstage to have fun with the band during the evening. “He was great. He just rolled with us and took everything in stride. He’s dreamy to look at — that’s for sure. I told my husband on the way home, ‘Honey, I’ve found a new man.’  I hope they bring him back next year!”

Thanks as well go to four additional meal sponsors: Nomad Adventures, formerly Flemming Tours, now managed by new owner Susan Damon, who used a football motif to present her new management team; a breakfast from TRIPS, a California-based tour company that showcased a new South Dakota trip with lots of partners from that state; an Australia-themed luncheon complete with native didgeridoo musicians hosted by Collette Vacations; and a German beer garden closing luncheon hosted by Globus Family of Brands that included authentic Bavarian beer  hall musicians and German beers.

Next year’s BankTravel Conference takes place February 7-9 in Memphis, Tennessee. For registration information, contact Teresa Burton at 330-332-3841 or visit

More on the BankTravel Conference:

BankTravel scores big in Baton Rouge

BankTravel events
Meet the Banker
BankTravel seminars
WEB EXCLUSIVE! BankTravel slideshow