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The Group Travel Leader Small Market Meetings Going on Faith

Planners Talk Back: September 2018

Select Traveler asked these group travel planners, “What is your top tip for someone just starting to plan group travel?” Check out their responses.

Jim Cuthbert, Senior Vice President, Retired

Cross Keys Bank, Monroe, Louisiana

“Pick a reliable travel company to be your partner. Their performance will reflect on you and your organization. Get references from them and check them out. But realize that you will be given only the good ones, so ask leading questions like ‘What could they do better?’ Check with the Better Business Bureau, Trip Advisor and other similar outlets.”


Lacey L. Biffle, Vice President

Quail Creek Bank, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

“Know what your customers want and their expectations. It doesn’t have to be a 100-member club right from the start. We revamped our club in 2012. Quail Creek Bank had a really successful club in the 1990s and 2000s, but as most clubs do, the people aged out and were no longer able to travel. The first thing we did was open the club up to the younger-aged traveler. We surveyed our customers and were surprised by the results. They were still working, wanted free time while on the tour and hadn’t really traveled before. We started out with simple tours and then ventured out for longer ones.”


Marianne Virgili, President and CEO, Retired

Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association, Glenwood Springs, Colorado

“Promote. A trip is only successful if you promote it. We have held Tupperware-style parties where if an attendee got two more couples or four friends to join a tour group, they earned a complimentary day excursion on the trip or some other incentives. Themed parties and giveaways are fun and build momentum. There is no substitute for personal contact. Call the people on your list to talk up the trip. Most travelers appreciate this and just need a nudge to sign up.”


Erma Bridges, Owner

Affordable Travel, Benton, Arkansas

“Remember there are a host of people out there to help you. Every state has a tourism department, and they are my first contacts. They are familiar with most everything of interest in their state, and they can put you in touch with the people to help you plan your trips. They even have preplanned trips you can follow.”


John Pike, Trip Planner

St. Charles Parks Department, St. Charles, Missouri

“Attention to detail is a must. With high turnover in personnel at a lot of vendors, such as hotels, restaurants and attractions, you may deal with two or three managers before you actually conduct the trip. Log all conversations, dates, times and with whom, to avoid last-minute problems.”