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The Group Travel Leader Small Market Meetings Going on Faith

Checking in with Bonnie McCown

Upward Momentum

Since the Heritage Club began in 1987, the group has attracted 2,800 members, all aged 50 or older. Though the club has remained popular over time, its growth has reached new heights recently.

“I think sometimes bank travel clubs may fall into a lull period and stop growing,” said McCown. “Ours went through that, but we have really started building our Heritage Club over the last few years. We have some great travelers going on trips with us numerous times a year.”

McCown believes that some of the growth comes from the First National Bank of Pulaski’s new offerings, such as rewards accounts and mobile banking. The other reason McCown credits for the club’s jump in members is attracting the attention of some boomer travelers, who typically prefer traveling on their own.

“I think a lot of the baby boomers are beginning to want to travel with us,” said McCown. “We’ve got a foot in the door with a group of boomers that would rather us put the trip together and all they have to do is step on the coach and relax. They leave the rest to us. That is really what is building our club now.”

Word of mouth from these new boomer travelers spreads quickly to draw even more members. McCown also discovered that allowing noncustomers on the trip pays off, since they inevitably sign up for an account after a successful group trip.

Constant Discovery

Finding bucket-list destinations to tempt your travelers can prove easy at first. However, continuously offering dynamic trips over the years becomes more difficult as the group checks off the obvious places.

“As long as I have been with the club, we’ve just about been there and done that or are going back again,” said McCown. “There are places not really big on the map right now, but that’s great for us because that gives us off-the-beaten-path destinations. You want to give them something they haven’t thought about.”

McCown attends several travel conferences, including the Select Traveler Conference, to continue to learn about emerging destinations that range from day trips to international vacations.

Whatever the destination, McCown strives to bring a sense of fun to each outing. It served her well on a trip to the Grand Canyon in 2013 when the government shut down during the trip.

“Who would think that in all the years that people have been going to the Grand Canyon that it would be shut down? You can panic, or you can go with plan B. It turned out fabulous. We thought it was our worst nightmare, but it ended up a great adventure.”

Travel Tips

  1. Don’t rely on cookie-cutter trips. Always customize, research and don’t be afraid to go off
    the beaten path.
  2. Make sure travelers get more than their money’s worth. Always throw in a surprise or two.
  3. Always have a plan B. Creativity is king.