Delegates to the 2018 Select Traveler Conference are in for a pleasant surprise when they meet in Louisville, Kentucky, a unique city that is a little Midwestern and a little Southern but has its own brand of originality and energy. The conference, February 4-6, will be held at the Galt House Hotel, along the Ohio River in downtown Louisville. The Galt House has long had a reputation for being one of the best hotels for groups in the city.
This national conference will attract up to 300 travel planners representing banks, alumni groups and chambers of commerce, as well as travel destination providers from the around the nation. This is also an opportunity for Louisville to host convention delegates who can potentially bring visitors to the city.
“We as a destination are firm believers that there is no better way to sell our city than to get these travel planners and destination professionals here so we can get them interested in Louisville,” said Nicole Twigg, vice president of tourism development for the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We think it is best to just go to the source and meet all of our counterparts over several days to get them as excited about Louisville as we are.”
Louisville, Kentucky’s largest city, is on the Kentucky-Indiana state line and claims a population of about 625,000. Over the past few decades, the city has transformed itself into an exciting destination, with such wide-ranging signature visitor experiences as Churchill Downs, the Kentucky Derby Museum, the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory, and the Muhammad Ali Center. And, of course, most of the world’s supply of bourbon, Kentucky’s signature drink, was formulated and aged in Kentucky and distributed from the state. Louisville produces its share of the spirit: There are even distilleries right in the downtown area along what is known as Whiskey Row.
The travel planners will get to chat with travel providers during hundreds of six-minute meetings spread out over three marketplace sessions. You might call it the speed-dating of the travel world. These quick get-to-know-you opportunities can pave the way for future business dealings for both parties. It’s almost unheard of for a travel planner to meet and chat with so many destination providers in such a short period.
At last year’s Select Traveler Conference, held in Ontario, California, delegates said they found tremendous value in the marketplace sessions. One of the delegates, Allyson Krull of the Mason City, Iowa, Chamber of Commerce. She told Select Traveler magazine, “The atmosphere of meeting so many people in a short time was huge for me. I was excited to see what the vendors offered.”
On the travel industry side, Heidi Ryan of the Lodge at Mount Magazine in Paris, Arkansas, was successfully scouring for new business. “I wanted to get more tour groups into my facility, and I think I’ve done that with some new leads and old leads. It’s been a really good conference,” she said.
Game Day Party
The Select Travel Conference will once again open on Super Bowl Sunday, and you can be sure the Louisville CVB is planning a big party for delegates that night. “This party is going to be hosted at Tavern on Fourth, part of our city’s Fourth Street Live! outdoor entertainment district,” said the CVB’s Twigg. “We will be in our own private area for the party, which will include fine Kentucky cuisine and bourbon, but anyone can then branch out and visit other nearby sports bars to watch the Super Bowl. There will be special Super Bowl activities going on all around the complex.”
Fourth Street Live! is one of the leading dining and entertainment destinations in Louisville. In a compact few blocks, there are more than a dozen restaurants, bars and other nightspots to explore. Dining ranges from sophisticated to supercasual. There are fun retail stores in which to shop. Fans pour into the complex to watch the most anticipated sports events live on big-screen TVs. Louisville is a huge college basketball and football town. Fourth Street Live! is also a site for romantic dates, corporate after-hours gatherings and family fun, with bowling, billiards and arcade games.
“This is a stop we encourage travel planners to make when they come to the city,” said Twigg. “They can drop their attendees there for lunch or dinner or an event. There are tons of activities in and around the immediate area.”
On special occasions, Fourth Street Live! is the scene of some of Louisville’s most popular citywide festivals and concerts. Select Traveler Conference delegates will be right in the thick of things on Super Bowl Sunday.
Louisville is gaining a reputation for serving good food. Southern Living magazine called Louisville “one of the Top 10 tastiest towns in the South.” The publication singled out, among others, The Oakroom, a AAA Five Diamond restaurant located in the historic downtown Seelbach Hotel.