by Dan Dickson
Published March 01, 2018
More than 110 upscale travel program directors converged in Louisville, Kentucky, February 4-6 for the 2018 Select Traveler Conference, where they were joined by 220 tour operators and destination representatives from more than 40 states and seven countries. The conference celebrated its 23rd year as the nation’s largest gathering of high-end travel programs representing banks, chambers of commerce, alumni groups and similar organizations.
“I want to personally thank Cleo Battle, Nicole Twigg, Saundra Robertson and the entire Louisville CVB staff for how they prepared for this prestigious group,” said Select Traveler Conference president and CEO Joe Cappuzzello. “From our opening Super Bowl party until our planners left on their site inspection trips afterward, our hosts did a superb job.”
The Select Traveler Conference has built its reputation on delivering the nation’s most qualified traveling groups. At the opening Buyer Breakout session, these planners confirmed that status by identifying international destinations including Iceland, Italy and Ireland as among those to be most visited in 2018. The same group pegged domestic destinations like America’s national parks, the new Ark Encounter in Kentucky and New York’s Broadway district as some of its hottest tickets for the year ahead.
Key trends identified in that session included the continued rise of river cruising as one of the world’s most popular travel styles, an overall resilience among high-end travelers in the face of international conflict and a surprising number of trips being offered in 2018. In many cases, these programs are running as many as 25 major trips to different destinations this year.
“Our sponsorship levels are at an all-time high now, and I can’t possibly mention them all,” said Cappuzzello, “but it would be appropriate to at least mention our major meal and reception sponsors. A big thanks goes to the Louisville CVB and the French Lick Resort for our two evening events; also to our breakfast hosts, East Coast Touring Company and Trips; and to our longtime luncheon sponsors, Collette Vacations and Globus Family of Brands. And this year, we enjoyed a superb evening reception compliments of one of our newest sponsors, the Tourism Authority of Thailand.”
In three marketplace sessions, more than 5,000 business appointments were held. The conference also featured a seminar by Mark Lindquist titled “Eight Steps to Reignite Your Passion” and one by Steve Haffner titled “Conquering Virtual MindBlocks.”
The 2019 Select Traveler Conference takes place February 10-12 at the French Lick Resort in French Lick, Indiana.