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The Group Travel Leader Small Market Meetings Going on Faith

Personal accounts: Born into the business


Kevin Butler (first row, right) poses with members of the Eagle Travel Club in Hawaii

As senior vice president and the marketing and business development officer at the American National Bank in Ardmore, Oklahoma, Kevin Butler had assisted the director of the Eagle Travel Club for years. When that director retired, the president of the bank walked in to Butler’s office and said, “We’re just going to add the entire responsibility of the club to your duties.”

“That was five years ago,” said Butler. “I remember my first trip on my own was to Branson, and when I got home, I walked in[to] my house, fell back on my bed and sighed.

“I don’t think many people realize the responsibility we have. Until the luggage has been picked up, all of our members have been dropped off and I know everyone is safe and happy, I can’t relax. It takes an incredible amount of energy 24/7.”

Age Is Just a Number
Butler’s fellow bank directors can likely relate to the heavy responsibility of leading dozens of people around the world. Many probably also agree that they have the best job in the world. Butler fell in love with travel as a young boy when his family moved to a variety of exotic locations, including Paris.

“I even went to a French preschool in Algeria. My entire youth gave me the knowledge that there is a whole world out there. How lucky I was to be exposed to so much as a kid,” he said.

Butler does his best to expose his 400 club members to dream destinations both abroad and in this country about five times a year.

“We don’t do day trips because we’re 100 miles from big cities, and that makes the motorcoach costs prohibitive. Most of our trips are via air travel,” he said.

Although it is a requirement to have $2,500 in any American National Bank account, the club has no age requirement, and Butler encourages all ages to travel with the Eagle Travel Club.

“I’m trying to change the perception of a travel club,” he said. “Young people love the idea of all-inclusive vacations, and so that is sort of how I present it — it’s a great way to travel when everything is included.

“When younger people are exposed to how much fun all age groups can be, it’s an eye-opener — like our 83-year-old traveler who did 13 zip lines and snorkeled off a catamaran in Costa Rica. Like so many older travelers, she’s a wonderful person who enjoys life.”