It’s hard to know where to start in describing the 2012 BankTravel Conference held Feb. 7-9 in Memphis, Tennessee.
• Do you start with Graceland and the incredible evening event that the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau put together with their partners?
• Do you start with the hugely popular new Industry Showdown event that pitted six competing destinations and travel companies against each other in 90 seconds of no-holds barred, “can you top this…” salesmanship?
• Do you start with Memphis itself — the South’s bastion of rhythm and blues whose Beale Street clubs drew delegates as easily as slow-cooked barbecue falls off the bone?
• Or maybe you start with Laura Schwartz, a social skills dynamo who held the delegation spellbound with her “Eat, Drink and Succeed” message that was honed during her eight years in the Clinton White House as the president’s director of events.
Suffice it to say that this was one of the best — if not the best — BankTravel Conferences ever held, which says a lot based on this industry favorite’s 17-year illustrious history.
“We’re not sure who to thank first,” said conference president and CEO Joe Cappuzzello. “From Kevin Kane, the Memphis CVB president who personally led the charge for our high-energy event at Graceland, to his management team including John Oros and Lisa Catron, who have been working on this event ever since we left Baton Rouge last year, to their many partners who helped to make it all possible. We just can’t say thanks enough.”
“It was a pleasure hosting BankTravel, and thank you for letting us share our historic, vibrant culture with your delegates,” said Kane. “For more than a year, we’ve been telling attendees they can bank on Memphis, and hopefully, we’ll be a tough act to follow.”
Bank delegates confirmed Kane’s sentiment.
“I thought Memphis just rolled out the red carpet for us,” said Stacy Crabtree of Metcalf Bank in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. “Graceland was wonderful, and everyone in Memphis at every turn could not have been nicer to us. Their appreciation of us as a group really showed.
“I was also very happy with my appointments,” said Crabtree. “Most of the suppliers did a good job of watching their time, and I like seeing everyone at one time in one spot. I plan trips right at the table at BankTravel.
“My feeling is, ‘If I’m interested, let’s set a date right here and get it done.’ I think the suppliers like that approach.”