The spirit of Elvis Presley has not left Memphis, as the attendees to the 2012 BankTravel Conference discovered. The legendary Graceland opened its doors to attendees to tour the King of Rock ’n’ Roll’s famous home during the conference’s first evening event.
The Shreveport/Bossier Convention and Visitors Bureau entertained guests on the way to the event with games, beverages and prizes. Once there, attendees learned that they had the place to themselves to explore and dine at their leisure.
“I’d never been to Graceland before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect,” said Barbara Moore-Ray, community development officer for First Century Bank in Bluefield, West Virginia. “Graceland was certainly one of the highlights.”
Attendees could choose what to visit first; choices included the Elvis Presley Car Museum, the Chrome Grill Dinner and the gift shop. Delegates could tour Presley’s beloved Graceland mansion with an audio tour guiding the way through the home’s original furniture and exhibits.
Some exhibits highlighted Presley’s numerous accolades throughout his career by displaying his elaborate costumes, clips from concerts and extensive hit records. But the King’s more personal side is also revealed at the mansion with tours through his living room, kitchen and colorfully decorated Jungle Room.
“Graceland was superb,” said Gerri Broyles, assistant tour director for First Century Bank in Bluefield. “No matter how many times you’ve been to Graceland, it’s always a new experience.”
One treat for fans was a new exhibit “Elvis Through His Daughter’s Eyes,” from the perspective of his daughter, Lisa Marie Presley. For the exhibit, videos showed Lisa Presley recalling specific memories of her father from her days in Graceland, as well as some of her personal memorabilia.
After touring, delegates danced much of the night away with the help of a local rock band.
At breakfast the next morning, the Branson Convention and Visitors Bureau treated guests to one of their city’s many stars. Barry Williams, who played Greg Brady in “The Brady Bunch,” was joined by musical performers singing songs from the 1960s. The Branson performers called attendees up to the stage with them for some early morning ’60s-inspired dancing.
Music was the theme of the day as Collette Vacations and Switzerland Tourism teamed up to present another Memphis rock band for lunch. The energizing music illustrated the lively sound of Memphis and had several delegates dancing in their seats.
For dinner, the Virginia Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau hosted a meal of crab cakes along with a discussion about the upcoming 2013 conference there. Afterward, guests enjoyed a live jazz band from Memphis.
The next morning, a “kangaroo” and a “koala” met delegates to the breakfast sponsored by Trips. The two costumed attendees took pictures with seated guests to help showcase Trips’ Australia offerings. The fun presentation unveiled the two costumed helpers, one of which was revealed to be conference chairman Charlie Presley.
At the final lunch event, Globus and the Canadian Rockies partnered to sponsor a presentation from Canada’s First Nations people. Dressed in traditional attire, two women danced a First Nations dance while moving through the crowd.
In the end, delegates left the conference having learned something about Memphis cuisine and music just from having attended the many events.
“I liked Memphis as a destination,” said Valerie Drouin, senior vice president of the Laconia Savings Bank in Laconia, New Hampshire. “That’s what drew me here. I’d never been before, and it blew me away with its culture, music and food.”