The main purpose of the annual Select Traveler Conference is for travel planners for banks, educational institutions, chambers of commerce and other organizations to meet with representatives of the travel industry and learn about new destinations and ideas for group travel. This will be deftly accomplished in three jam-packed marketplace sessions at the next conference, scheduled for March 22-24 in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
“Cheyenne will be a unique experience for many of our delegates who have not been out there before, and the city will roll out the red carpet for us,” said Joe Cappuzzello, CEO of The Group Travel Family, which organizes and runs the Select Traveler Conference. The meeting will take place inside the official conference hotel: the Little America Hotel and Resort.
One of the hallmarks of the Select Traveler Conference is a lineup of professional speakers that deliver content that can motivate, educate, entertain or even make delegates shed a tear. This year’s docket of speakers will no doubt keep the theater lively. “We bring in cutting-edge speakers, for sure,” said Cappuzzello.
Vincent Phipps from Chattanooga, Tennessee, likes to call himself an “attitude-amplifying speaker and communications coach.” He has been addressing audiences nationwide for 24 years. Phipps will deliver the keynote address. His interactive presentation style will capture everyone’s attention.
“He is younger, dynamic, exciting and high-energy, and he really gets people fired up,” said Cappuzzello. “Believe me, no one will be falling asleep when Vincent is around.”
In an interview with Select Traveler magazine, Phipps said he is going to offer important suggestions to the assembled group travel directors and destination providers.
“I am going to tell them how to improve their attitude so they can give better customer service,” said Phipps. “There are three dynamics that encapsulate how to amplify customer service.”
One of these dynamics, Phipps said, is for people to become better listeners. Another is for them to adapt to whomever they are talking with. The third tip is for everyone to find a way to focus on solutions.
Phipps added another thought about language. “We can avoid complications when we practice communication without confrontation. Vocabulary is located in the same part of the brain that shuts down during high emotion. So, the madder we get, the dumber we get.”
Jim Spellos, president of Meeting U, is a technology expert that can show delegates what tech tools they need to be more comfortable and productive in their work and personal lives. His keynote and conference training sessions are always informative, interesting and fun, guiding people into understanding how to use tomorrow’s technologies today. This may include productivity shortcuts or insight about hot new apps.
“A hundred years ago, they called that era the Roaring ’20s,” said Spellos in one of his online video chats. “Our next decade is going to be the Non-Stop ’20s. What will be going on is so cool. I want all of the delegates to be able to keep up with changes. I’ll talk about hot technologies like virtual reality, augmented realty, artificial intelligence and other things that people might not know can help change how they do business.”
Another speaker who will address delegates stresses safety when it is time for group travel planners to book ground transportation for their local trips. The slogan “Look Before You Book” is becoming a familiar refrain, thanks to Greg Nahmens of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
“We ask that in your due diligence, you come to our website — fmcsa.dot.gov — and inspect the safety records for transportation companies you might want to hire,” Nahmens said. “Your customers put their lives in your hands based on decisions that you alone make.”
Nahmens said most motorcoach operators take safety very seriously, but a few of them are willing to take chances with passenger safety and run unsafe vehicles. Researching the carrier’s safety record before booking can save travel planners and their guests a lot of grief.
Travel Ideas Shared
The Select Traveler Conference has set aside time for travel buyers to get their heads around all the vital issues that shape their businesses.
“We do peer-to-peer education through buyer breakout sessions, which is the first thing our members will do after the conference begins,” said Cappuzzello. “They hold roundtable discussions where they talk about the important travel industry issues that seem to affect everybody. They also share their best practices, like what’s hot and what’s not, or how you could handle different travel challenges.”
Stellar Evening Events on Tap
The Select Traveler host city always presents a great evening of food and entertainment, and Cheyenne has a special one planned.
“We’re going to have a lot of fun and get Western,” said Jim Walter of Visit Cheyenne, the city’s convention and visitors bureau. The first night of the conference will feature an exciting rodeo. It will include cowboys and cowgirls roping, bull riding and barrel racing inside Cheyenne’s fairgrounds events center.
Delegates can also learn a few rodeo skills like the ones exhibited by the professionals. Other delegates might try to learn a little Western line dancing. “It’s a night of Western entertainment, so bring your boots,” said Walter.
The second night of the conference will feature a dinner sponsored by the host city for the 2021 Select Traveler Conference: Panama City Beach, Florida. Delegates will hear all about the beaches, waterways and entertainment options available in this Florida Panhandle region.
Buyer Breakout: Thanks, Ashley and Diane!
The buyer breakout session at the upcoming Select Traveler Conference, March 22-24 in Cheyenne, Wyoming, will explore emerging destinations for travel planners that represent upscale groups from banks, chambers of commerce, alumni groups and other similar organizations. This year’s session will be led by volunteer moderators Ashley Taylor of First State Bank in Barboursville, West Virginia, and Diane Zuccarini of Prosperity Bank in Houston.
“Our goal with this session is to have peer groups sharing about destinations that are trending for the next couple of years,” said conference partner Mac Lacy. “There is so much movement right now in terms of how trips are designed and which destinations are coming to the forefront that we feel this is a good year to do this session.”
The breakout session occurs on the first day of the conference and is always moderated by volunteer delegates. The results are aggregated and shared with all attendees as a tangible benefit of attending the Select Traveler Conference.
“We’ll look at both domestic and international destinations,” said Lacy. “We’ll explore the trends that favor those destinations, like trips that feature only one hotel and explore an area in-depth; trips that favor smaller groups and more personal experiences; and other trends driving the market. We thank Ashley and Diane for volunteering to lead this year’s session.”
The Know Your Sponsors Auction at the Select Traveler Conference is one of the entertainment highlights of the three-day event. Travel planners earn “conference cash” in meetings with sponsors over the course of the conference and use their accumulated wealth to bid on high-tech gadgets for personal and business use back home. Auctioneer Jennifer Ferguson and her assistants lead the fun as delegates pool their cash to try and bring home a prize. This year’s auction is sponsored by Branson’s Best Restaurants in Branson, Missouri.