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The Group Travel Leader Small Market Meetings Going on Faith

Personal accounts: Great timing for the Texas Travelers

Group with Linda Holm

Linda Holm was a hard-working English teacher for 32 years. She took pride in being very conscientious, spending every evening at the kitchen table grading papers and preparing for classes the next day.

“I always loved to travel but couldn’t afford to really take the trips of my dreams. But in my last years of teaching, I had the opportunity to take students to Europe over spring break,” Holm said.

At first, Holm was daunted by such a responsibility. “How could I arrange a trip, plan all the activities and make hotel reservations? I knew I couldn’t do it,” she said. “Well, it was my daughter, one of those traveling students, who alleviated my fears. ‘Mom, there is a company that leads the tour and arranges everything,’ she told me.

“Yes, I was completely naive. But the fact that I discovered these people called tour operators was God’s grace. It really changed my life.”

Holm accompanied students on those spring break journeys, and as a result, she was not the least daunted when she had the opportunity to replace the retiring Texas Travelers director at Texas First Bank in Texas City, Texas.

“That door opened soon before I was about to retire from teaching. That retiring director was a member of my church, and she said to me, ‘You are the answer to my prayers.’ So, I took a few trips with her and the group, and when I finally retired, I took her job.

“Life is all about timing.”

Fulfilling bucket-list dreams
Holm’s colleagues in the bank travel world might be envious of her home-based operations as Texas Travelers director. “While I thoroughly enjoy being able to work from home, there are a few disadvantages, including my office, which appears as if a bomb just exploded,” she said with a laugh.

Texas Travelers has about 600 members. Although members need have only one account at Texas First Bank, anyone can travel with the group on one occasion, and customers can take a guest anytime.

“Our travel program is a shining star when it comes to public relations. We are the only bank in the immediate area that offers such a program,” said Holm.

With an active annual schedule that typically includes five extended trips and four shorter excursions, Holm admits that for a variety of reasons, she “is having a tough time filling a motorcoach.”

“So, we typically hook up with others, usually bank groups, and fly to a destination. We have more success with longer, more expensive and exotic trips. For the most part, my customers aren’t willing to go to an overnight casino in Louisiana, even though a trip like that can be very inexpensive for us.

“Years ago, we had no problem with that, but the economy has changed, and these folks are saving their money for the trip of a lifetime — one on their bucket list.

“It’s an irony that we can sell expensive trips and find it nearly impossible to sell the cheaper ones. We also have great success with our annual holiday trip to New York City. We have a city tour with an entertaining and very informed part-time actor when we first arrive, just to get the lay of the land. Then, the group gets two full free days to explore [by] themselves.”

Holm also pointed out a problem that is relative to the group’s southernmost location in the United States: “Bank groups in the middle of the country may have more success with shorter trips because they have so many places they can drive to. Here, our choices are limited, and we have only so many options for a reasonable drive.

“Despite tough times, I have complete support from the bank, from tellers to upper management. While I enthusiastically encourage guidance and suggestions, my judgment is respected,” she added.