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The Group Travel Leader Small Market Meetings Going on Faith

Six minutes goes a long way at BankTravel

Travel ideas ranging from Branson, Missouri, to Australia gave bank delegates a plethora of travel ideas to take back with them from the 2012 BankTravel Conference in Memphis.

“I think this conference kick-starts my year,” said Barbara Moore-Ray, community development officer for First Century Bank in Bluefield, West Virginia. “I meet with travel vendors and share ideas with fellow bankers. I wouldn’t miss it for the world. I feel this is an integral part of my travel club.”

Feb. 7-9 conference hosted three Meet the Bankers Marketplaces, where each bank travel delegate met with travel industry members to discuss potential upcoming trips. The prescheduled appointments lasted six minutes each.

“We are first-timers, and it has been a very exciting and very enthusiastic conference,” said Betty Sue Tatum, business development officer for Atlantic Coast Bank in Waycross, Georgia. “We’ve got some really good trip ideas, including a lot of local tour ideas within the United States.

“I’ve learned a lot about the states. You can look on the Internet, but being able to talk with a person from that location personalizes it, so you know exactly what you’re getting and where you’re going.”

Destinations, tour operators and other travel vendors, such as Cracker Barrel restaurants, were represented at these appointments. Many of the travel industry members reported positive interactions with the bank members.

“I was pleased to see that the conference has new bank members, and I hope they can continue to attract more in the future,” said Lamar Hadley, group sales representative for Cracker Barrel. “I’ve been to a lot of BankTravel conferences, so it’s exciting to see that.”

Travel industry members worked hard to find ways to help bank delegates remember their companies, with giveaways and matching gear. The 14 Arkansas members all wore matching outfits with Arkansas Tourism logos to help make a lasting impact on the delegates.

One member of Arkansas Tourism found the bank delegates to be travel savvy enough to be already familiar with the new Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville.

“People have already heard about our new Crystal Bridges Museum, so that’s been the icebreaker I’ve used,” said John Lamparski, group tours sales manager for Bentonville Convention and Visitors Bureau. “From there I go into our other offerings, like the Walton Five and Dime store and the Native American Museum.”

Staff from the Virginia Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau also found encouragement as they met with bankers and talked about next year’s BankTravel Conference in Virginia Beach.

“People have been saying they are excited to come next year because they have never been to Virginia Beach,” said Jim Coggin, tourism sales manager for the CVB. “It’s a good fit for Virginia Beach because it’s where bankers haven’t been before. It shows Virginia Beach to a new audience.”

The host city, Memphis, found conference attendees receptive to the idea of bringing future groups back to the land of the Delta Blues.

“It took me about 10 years to get BankTravel here, and it was well worth it,” said Lisa Catron, national sales manager for the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau. “BankTravel has always been dear to me with their loyalty, and they are loyal to their destinations.

“From booking Graceland to fam tours and the showroom floor, I have been bringing back business to my hometown.”