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Speakers and Sightseeing Highlight 2017 Conference

The 2017 Select Traveler Conference will have interesting sightseeing opportunities for delegates, along with inspirational and educational speakers. The annual conference is scheduled for February 5-7 in Ontario, California, about 35 miles southeast of Los Angeles. It will be the first time the conference is being held on the West Coast.

“We will be excited to welcome the Select Traveler Conference to the Greater Ontario region,” said Michael Krouse, president and CEO of the Greater Ontario Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Southern California is beautiful in the month of February, and it is no wonder that so many people flock to this area with our sunshine, outdoor activities and major destinations.”

Joe Cappuzzello, president and CEO of the Group Travel Family, which organizes the conference each year, is impressed with the beautiful Ontario Convention Center, which will be the host site. “It will be a great venue for us, an almost brand-new convention center,” he said. Ontario International Airport is a convenient alternative to crowded Los Angeles International Airport.

Ontario is on the edge of the California desert and is a winter home for many “snowbirds” who make the area their headquarters in January, February and March, especially those escaping the brutal winters back home. “The winter season is really gorgeous in Southern California, and we are really kind of spoiled rotten,” said Sue Oxarart, communications director for the Ontario CVB. She said Select Traveler delegates are in for a treat.

Exploring the Outdoors

Although the sightseeing schedule for the conference is yet to be finalized, Oxarart is certain that activities for delegates will include the great outdoors. The wide variety of land and water options makes the area an excellent choice in wintertime.

“We will try to put together opportunities that can be included in a full package of organized outdoor activities, or we will let people decide what they want to do and provide our visitors guide and staff experts to help them,” said Oxarart. “Some may want to shop, others to play golf or to go to a great metropolitan area like Los Angeles or the Orange County beaches.”

Oxarart likes to brag that visitors have been known to get up early in the morning and head to the mountains to ski. Later, they may go down to the Pacific Ocean for surfing and then top off the day by taking off into the desert on motorcycles. All can be accomplished in the same day. “We tend to be a perfect gateway to the entire region,” said Oxarart, who also said that one of her favorite things to do is to slip away to nearby Palm Springs for a day of leisure, sun and fun. It is just a little over an hour away. She also recommends Big Bear Lake area with its alpine lakes and snow skiing activities.

Those who love hockey and soccer will be glad to know that both sports are played in Ontario in the winter. The Reign, the local American Hockey League team, plays at home during the Select Traveler Conference, as does the Fury, Ontario’s entry in the Professional Arena Soccer League. Both are options for delegates.

There are many historical sites and buildings to visit in the region, including famed Route 66, which is the scene of many nostalgia-filled Cruisin’ Reunions. Select Traveler delegates who come early or want to stay late can arrange for guided FAM tours of the region.

Southern California is also full of food options you won’t find anywhere else in the country. “We see a lot of fusion food and unusual combinations in our restaurants,” said Oxarart. “We look forward to having the conference group visit with us to try some of them,” she said.

Motivation and Laughs

One guest speaker is already booked for the Select Traveler Conference meeting, and attendees will likely find that she is a delight. Suzette Brawner combines reality and humor for a blend of inspiration, motivation and hard laughter.

Brawner is frequently asked to address corporate, university, church and civic groups. Most groups want her to discuss how best to communicate.

“Communication has changed dramatically over the last 15 years with the digital age, and misunderstandings often start with miscommunication,” she said. So Brawner plans to toss out suggestions on how best to get our points across to each other.

She says many of us get into trouble not only because of what we say, but because we didn’t carefully listen to someone else. “And then we have to scramble to get out of it,” said Brawner.

The professional speaker explained that there are communication problems among the various age generations and that those issues can crop up with people working in the travel industry, too. “We all need to slow down and listen and learn from each other. I think that would help things smooth out a bit.”

Brawner believes that everybody takes life way too seriously, especially in this era of cutthroat political drama. She often refers to her mother, a “sweet Southern lady,” who always advised her that in polite company, one should never discuss religion or politics. “So I have decided to stay clear of it,” Brawner said.

“Many people are so uptight. But I love to laugh, and I try to fill my life with laughter. I think it’s good for us. There’s actually laughter therapy offered now.”