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The Group Travel Leader Small Market Meetings Going on Faith

Create an eventful trip

Passport 50, the bank group from Planters Bank in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, recently embarked upon a 10-day train tour of the canyons of the Southwest, seeing American icons like the Painted Desert and the Grand Canyon. Although director Carolyn Cobb described the railway journey as “fantastic,” a highlight of the group’s time was the International Balloon 
Fiesta in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

“With over 600 balloons — the largest ballooning event on earth — this was the most fabulous event,” she said. “We went to it twice during our time there, once early in the morning and once at night. There really are no words to describe it. When you’re talking about an event that takes place in the scope of the whole sky, pictures do it no justice.”

Cobb was a little nervous planning for this adventure. “It was an expensive trip, and admission into the balloon fiesta only added to that cost. As it ended up, the fiesta was the real drawing card for the trip. It gave me a big plum for promotion and made my selling job easy.”

Marketing tool
Having an event or festival as a major highlight on an itinerary is a marketing tool that bank directors are using not only to fill motorcoaches but also to make happy travelers. Lois Dunbar, director of the Voyagers Program at Prairie State Bank and Trust in Springfield, Illinois, keeps an eye out for local events and opportunities that may be attractive to a specific crowd.

“In September, we attend the Cedarhurst Art and Craft Fair in Mount Vernon, an event that showcases over 130 craftsmen. There’s food, entertainment and even a beer tent; it’s really fun,” she said.

“Most importantly, I find an event like this attracts different people on the motorcoach, perhaps a younger crowd. There are women who just want to get out for a day and many, many crafty people who appreciate this group travel experience.”

Dunbar also offers the chance for her members to learn more about their roots. “The Midsommar Festival Swedish Days in Geneva, held in June, offers our bank members with Swedish heritage a chance to be surrounded with food, crafts and music from their homeland,” she said. “Others also attend simply because there is entertainment for everyone.”

Events and festivals need not be famous throughout the country or even the globe. “We often choose to attend fairs and festivals that are well known only on a local or statewide basis,” said Dunbar. “These events are outstanding.

“I’m sure that every bank director has the opportunity to go to events that are attractive and relative to the demographics of their members.”