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The Group Travel Leader Small Market Meetings Going on Faith

New customers are priority one

Doris Adcox with group

When asked if anyone could travel with her group, even people who are not bank customers, Doris Adcox, director of Diamonds at Priority One Bank in Magee, Mississippi, emphatically answered, “Absolutely.”

And with little pause, Adcox added, “But rest assured, I’ll ask them for their business. I’ve added more than a tidy bit of funds to our bank thanks to our travel program and those newcomers.

“It’s not too hard to get people, often friends and relatives of bank members, to have a serious interest in becoming a bank member themselves when they are having a good time on the motorcoach.”

This straightforward director, also renowned for her sense of humor, admits she had little or no training when she started the bank’s loyalty program 15 years ago.

“We wanted to increase the mature market, where the obvious growth is, so it only made sense to open the doors and ask everyone to come,” she said. “I soon found out that a travel program is a great marketing tool.”

Memorable moments
Although that direct philosophy worked well from day one, Adcox said other trial-and-error approaches have had steamy results. “Planning our first trip, I knew of only one motorcoach company. So I called them, booked the whole thing and smugly thought to myself that this was not such a tough job,” she said. “Well, on that trip to Natchez, Mississippi, in the dead heat of summer with a full motorcoach, the air conditioning went out, and the bus made all sorts of funny noises.

“It was a tough day.”

Diamonds, with 3,000 members, takes at least one international trip a year and many day trips and extended domestic tours.

Adcox, who plans to retire this December, wants to assure her replacement and all those new to the bank travel business that there are always tough days when you’re the leader of 40 people on journeys around the world: from that sweltering day in Natchez to a freezing night in Columbus, Georgia, when her lightly dressed customers were forced out into the cold in the middle of the night due to a fire alarm, and from a panicked woman stuck in a motorcoach bathroom to a missing club member on a plane to Italy.

“There are memorable moments,” she said with a laugh.

“On the other hand, I remember standing on top of the Alps in Switzerland with my group on a beautiful Sunday morning when words could not describe the scenery or the feeling.

“Whether it’s a day trip or an international excursion, it makes me happy to see customers have a good time. These are the moments that give me the greatest pleasure,” she said.

Adcox enjoys success not only with conventional travels but also with grandparent/grandchild vacations. “For those grandparents trips, I choose places kids would enjoy, like the Global Wildlife Center in Folsom, Louisiana, where we all had a ball riding wagons and feeding the animals — those darned camels stole our cups away from us,” she said. “We select eating areas that have several fast-food restaurants to choose from, and we have videos on the bus that are entertaining for all ages.

“I think these annual events are so much fun for everyone because they are planned to appeal to the kid in all of us.”

More fun takes place at the bank’s appreciation dinners held for all 11 branches of Priority One.

“We have great food and entertainment, and the word-of-mouth publicity is invaluable,” she said. “When we’re finished, we’ve fed over 1,000 people. I’m extremely fortunate that our travels and activities are meant to encourage people to become customers. While on the majority of our travels we make some money, there are other times we go in the red.

“In the end, however, it’s always in the bank’s best interest to have such a successful club that plays a vibrant part in all the communities we serve,” said Adcox.