Meet the Bankers event
With an economic recovery underway and groups returning to travel in numbers not seen since 2008, there was plenty of business to be done this year at BankTravel. Bankers met with representatives of destinations, hotels, attractions and tour companies to discus travel ideas and plan trips for the upcoming year.
Business connections are at the heart of the BankTravel conference, and those connections are made during the event’s marketplace sessions called Meet the Banker. This year, some 7,000 connections were made during three Meet the Banker sessions.
The meetings took place during a series of six-minute appointments, which are prescheduled using a computer system that matches banker and travel industry appointment requests.
“Our appointments have been really good,” said Megan Rapp of the Hannibal Convention and Visitors Bureau, noting both the quality of the meetings and the upbeat attitude of attendees. “People seem to be in a really good mood this year. We’ve been coming to BankTravel for a couple of years now, and people are saying they’re ready to come visit Hannibal.”
Meet the Banker has been a longtime staple of the conference, but this year brought several refinements. Travel industry representatives’ schedules were arranged so that they had a free time slot between each of their meetings, allowing them more time to make notes and to move around the conference floor without rushing from appointment to appointment.
A third Meet the Banker session was added to the schedule as well, replacing what used to be a session of two-minute speed-dating appointments.
Bankers found that the marketplace gave them opportunities to learn about new travel ideas and expand their menu of destinations and tours to offer for their clients. Even longtime veterans of the conference said that business meetings are helping them to inject some changes into their travel operations.
“The appointments have been good,” said Judy Reece, one of the travel planners at Community Southern Bank in Ellijay, Georgia. “We need to change some gears and do some new things, so it has been good for us to learn about new things and meet some new companies.”
Following a popular format established at the conference in 2010, the marketplace sessions took place in the same large ballroom where the education sessions and registration desk were located, giving the entire event a feeling of openness and collaboration.
Working together and sharing new ideas starts with an appointment at the conference, but can continue long after the closing event. Dan Dieckhaus, a first-time delegate representing QueensLander Tours, found that the Meet the Banker appointments gave him an opportunity to begin discussing small-group tours and boomer tours with the travel planners he met.
“Our appointments have been really good,” he said. “Some of the people are really interested in smaller group tours, and others are just now starting to think about boomers. But we’re building good relationships and helping to educate people. After this, our job is following up.”