Travel planners can immerse themselves in a wealth of new trip ideas at the Select Traveler Conference, which will take place this year in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Scheduled for March 28-30, Select Traveler will be held at Cheyenne’s historic Little America Hotel and Resort. The conference features planners who represent travel clubs at banks, chambers of commerce and alumni groups from colleges and other organizations. Representatives from qualified travel destinations such as cities, states, regions, attractions, and hotel and resort properties meet with the travel planners to help them put together trips for their groups.
The conference will feature two valuable marketplace sessions with 50 appointment slots available for each travel club director. Planners will sit down with destination providers for quick six-minute chats, sort of “get-to-know-you” meetings, and the two sides will exchange information to see if they might like to do business together. The parties can meet informally again later during the conference if they would like to pursue a deal, and follow-ups after the conference are always smart.
Glad To See You
Cheyenne, the capital city of Wyoming, with a population of 63,000, is pleased to have this group of travel planners coming to town.
“We always love to pull out the stops and put on a show for conference attendees,” said Jim Walter, who is VP for Visit Cheyenne, the city’s convention and visitors bureau. “The leisure market is more important than ever for us. Free, independent travelers, groups and families have carried us through the pandemic. We look forward to growing that market.”
Walter believes that if he can convince travel planners to see and experience Cheyenne for themselves, they will be sufficiently impressed and want to bring their groups back there.
“If they can see the renaissance that Cheyenne is experiencing, that will make it so much easier for them to become an ambassador and to bring people back to visit us,” he said. “We love hosting planners of all sorts and showing them what a dynamic place to visit Cheyenne is.”
To make travel as easy as possible, the conference will offer shuttle service from Denver International Airport, 105 miles south of Cheyenne. Delegates are urged to be on the lookout for further details on this service from conference organizers at Group Travel Family. In addition, some travelers may find it easier to fly directly into Cheyenne Regional Airport, which has a couple of daily flights to and from Denver through United Airlines.
The Select Traveler Conference begins on a Monday this year. Delegates can register from late morning through the afternoon and will meet the Group Travel Family’s staff that will be taking care of everyone.
Sponsors are always important to the conference because they bring so much tour product information and so many viewpoints to the meeting. Delegates will get to meet them in their booths in the marketplace and hear from them on the main stage before, during and after mealtimes. Those sponsors will also be handing out “auction dollars” to the travel planners they meet and those “dollars” can be spent during an exciting auction that will feature valuable prizes.
A planner breakout session will take place on the first day of the conference. That is where travel planners will gather in small groups to discuss issues and problems that all planners face in the industry. Everyone can offer stories and seek solutions for those concerns. All the comments will be collected and compiled and sent to planners after the conference.
The opening night’s dinner and event is called Night at the Ranch and is sponsored by Visit Cheyenne. “We will have a chuck-wagon-style dinner,” said the CVB’s Walter. “That will include specialty cocktails and local craft beers. We will have a band and dancing along with roping, maybe a mechanical bull and other fun Western things.”
The second day will bring a sponsored breakfast with travel speakers and entertainment. Then it will be time to get down to work — the real reason buyers and sellers go to Cheyenne — during the first marketplace session. This will be business networking at its best. That will be followed by lunch and then the fun sponsor auction.
The conference will also include entertainment. One performer will be Daniel Jaspersen, who does “engaging magic for intelligent audiences,” according to his website. Count on several amazing card tricks and other surprises when Jaspersen takes the stage.
For group travel planners wanting to entertain their troops while on a trip, Jaspersen has a lot of contacts in the industry who can enliven any gathering. They include jugglers, comedians, caricature artists, balloon artists and circus performers. At the conference, he will be happy to meet with planners individually and offer suggestions, the goal being to help planners have successful events of their own.
The Branson Convention and Visitors Bureau will sponsor the evening meal on day two as Branson will host the 2023 Select Traveler Conference.
Day three will bring another breakfast at which travel experts will share destinations and ideas with delegates. Then the second marketplace session will start. This will be one more chance for destinations to make a good impression on group travel planners. The conference will end after a quick lunch.
Old West Lives
Convention delegates who enjoy Western history can learn quite a bit when they visit Cheyenne. The city is a remnant of America’s Old West. Historians credit railroads for the city’s becoming a boom town soon after the Civil War. It was from Cheyenne, in what was then Dakota Territory, that the Union Pacific Railroad began its ascent over the Rocky Mountains. Its graders and track layers worked endlessly and performed many engineering feats until they pushed their way to California.
At first, Cheyenne was just a railroad camp town, but it then sprang up so fast that observers nicknamed it the Magic City of the Plains. Today, the city commemorates the railroads with a restored downtown train depot that is simply gorgeous. It contains an interesting museum that is full of railroad stories, pictures and artifacts.
Delegates with free time before or after the conference can hop on one of the local Cheyenne Street Railway Trolleys to see and hear about the colorful history of the area thanks to knowledgeable guides. The town was a rough place to live back in the old days, with many saloons, brothels, shootings, stabbings, and wild cowboys and other characters. But Cheyenne eventually grew up and became one of the region’s most important cities.
Another way to soak up Cheyenne and Wyoming history is to stop at any of the 25 eight-foot-tall cowboy boots on display on streets around the city. Designed by local artists, each boot commemorates important state history. Visitors enjoy posing in front of them to take selfies, and some groups use them for scavenger hunt games. The city is also adorned with several huge state history murals that are worth seeing.
Another fun activity is to visit the Terry Bison Ranch and ride a small train out onto the plains and into a herd of bison. Riders can see the beasts up close, touch them and feed them a snack. Cheyenne is also home to the largest outdoor rodeo and Western celebration in the United States, held each July. Travel planners can bring groups into town at other times of the year and arrange for a mini rodeo with events such as horseback riding, roping, bronco and steer busting, and barrel racing, among others. A chuck-wagon-style meal can also be set up for groups to enjoy.
Visit Cheyenne will offer three sightseeing tours on the conference’s second day. One group can tour the Cheyenne Depot Museum and the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum. Another group can choose to see the Terry Bison Ranch, and a third group can visit the Wyoming State Museum and the beautifully restored state Capitol.
See You Then
The CVB’s Walter said he is excited to welcome Select Traveler delegates and hopes they can bring their groups to the area in 2022 and beyond.
“Wyoming starts in Cheyenne,” he said. “Whether we are your final destination or the start of an epic Western road trip, Cheyenne has the rugged history of the Old West, as well as a surprising mix of modern arts, live music, culture, food and drink.”