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The Group Travel Leader Small Market Meetings Going on Faith

Planners Command Attention at the Select Traveler Conference

More than a dozen tour company partners presented travel information to delegates. Among them was Richard Arnold of Atlantic Tours. “There are many unique things that only happen in our region of Canada,” he said. “Please think of us when you want something a little different.”

Jim Warren of Anderson Vacations promoted luxury rail adventures. “We crafted great itineraries around this great product and created unique things for these two-nation rail vacation adventures.”

Cruising brought Kristin Karst of AmaWaterways to the conference. “River cruising touches your heart,” she said. “You are on a floating boutique hotel. You meet the locals and eat the foods of the region. You have the luxury of time on cruises because you unpack just once.”

Bob Cline of U.S. Tours announced he had purchased East Coast Touring Company and revealed a new program. “We’re introducing Select World Travel, a collection of the world’s greatest tour companies,” he said. “We’re making larger investments in your delegates and your marketplaces.”

Familiar face Jim Edwards of Collette brought many travel ideas. “Traveling with Collette comes with benefits that take the travel experience to a new level,” he said. “Our tours offer more for the money. Our knowledge and buying power allows us to pass savings to you. We’re the most experienced travel company in North America and the third oldest in the world.”

Charming Sobhana Sucharitakul of the Tourism Authority of Thailand promoted exotic travel. “Chiang Mai was selected by Travel + Leisure as the ‘Best City in Asia,’” he said. “Sites in Bangkok have been voted best landmarks by Trip Advisor’s Travelers’ Choice Awards. There are so many things to do and see.”

Brian Doughty of Trips promoted the 2020 Oberammergau Passion Play, an event that takes place every 10 years in Germany. “We’d love to share this great trip with you,” he said. “So if you want to go with us, we’re here for you.”

Diane Wilhelm of the Globus Family of Brands in Littleton, Colorado, had travel ideas. “We take great pride in our 90 years of escorted tours,” she said. “We’re one of the largest in the world. The best thing that can happen with your travelers is if they get home and say, ‘Where are we going next?’”

The travel industry was well represented by diverse cities, states and attractions. For example, Jennifer Andruzzi of White Mountain Hotel in North Conway, New Hampshire, found an untapped source of younger travelers. “I want to make new contacts and get younger groups to try us, like boomers,” she said. “A lot of my group members are between 70 and 90.”

Mary Lynn Hegdahl of Royal Gorge Route Railroad in Canon City, Colorado, came to the conference for increased exposure. “I want people to know about our train, and [I want to] strengthen old relationships and build new ones, and move ahead with more business,” she said.

Tyrisha Battle of the Holly Springs, Mississippi, Tourism Recreation Bureau said, “My goal is to secure folks who want [to see] the great state of Mississippi and our small town 30 miles from Memphis. They’ll feel loved and welcomed and can enjoy Civil War and African-American history. We have 25 antebellum homes standing.”

Beth Mead of the Columbia, Missouri, Convention and Visitors Bureau, was there to promote her hub-and-spoke destination. “Columbia is centrally located in Missouri and shares proximity to five or six really neat communities. We sell ourselves as a regional destination where you can have many convenient experiences.”

“We’re the best tour operator no one has heard of,” said Mark House of InterTrav in St. Charles, Illinois. “For 52 years we’ve done the behind-the-scenes work. We don’t buy from anyone; everything we do is customized. We simply ask every client, ‘What are your goals?’”