Montana Chamber of Commerce
For the past six years, the Montana Chamber of Commerce has taken some of its 1,200-plus members overseas. The chamber has taken groups ranging in size from 14 to 70 people.
Born: Spokane, Washington
Education: Bachelor of arts degree in political science from the University of California
Employment: Webb has worked at a ranch for most of his life and still owns a small cow-calf operation. Over the years, he has worked for various chambers of commerce. In 1999, he became the president/CEO of the Montana Chamber of Commerce.
Family: wife, Kathy Brown
Hobbies: Brown’s favorite hobby is travel. He has visited six of the seven continents and 49 of the states.
Steel cranes filled the sky above the city in a buzz of motion. Webb Brown, CEO and president of the Montana Chamber of Commerce (COC), knew this would become one of those travel moments he would never forget.
“The amount of activity in China is crazy,” said Brown. “There are cranes everywhere. The energy you feel all over China really stuck with me.”
For someone who has seen six of the seven continents and 49 of the United States, Webb has experienced many unforgettable sights over the years. College helped cement his love of travel when he spent some time studying at a school in Hawaii before graduating from the University of California.
Webb had the chance to experience the whirlwind of China after deciding to try something new.
“One of the local chambers had done a tour with their members, so we thought, we could do that, too,” said Webb. “We ended up doing four different group tours to China.”
After this quick success six years ago, Webb began using one or two international trips a year to spread his passion of travel with some of his 1,200-plus chamber members.
Embracing the Exotic
When faced with seemingly endless travel options for the Montana COC’s first trip, Brown decided that less-familiar destinations would best grab his members’ attention.
“There were three, maybe four, chambers in the state that had done these kinds of group tours,” said Brown. “We thought we should do a little more exotic tours.”
Already the chamber has explored Cuba, Israel and Brazil, and taken a Collette tour to New Zealand and Australia. Brown tries to focus on destinations both unusual and in high demand with his members.
“We try to listen to our folks and go to places that are somewhat unique,” said Brown. “We want places people wouldn’t find in their normal itineraries.”
Brown also looks to the Select Traveler Conference for ideas. The Australia tour and the upcoming Ireland tour both became a reality thanks to the conference.
“We’re taking a trip to Ireland this year with Starr Destinations,” said Brown. “I had no clue about them before the conference.”
The conference also helps Brown discover new trends in group travel, such as river cruising. Brown won the drawing for an Avalon cruise at the conference and is eager to try this trend himself.
“I get other ideas by talking to local chambers in the state that are doing tours,” said Brown. “We like to find out where people are taking groups.”