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BankTravel wrapup

MILWAUKEE — The 2010 BankTravel Conference Feb. 7-9 in Milwaukee drew more than 400 delegates, including bank travel program directors from 20 states. Travel companies and destinations from 41 states and three Canadian provinces joined the bank travel planners, in addition to international delegates from China and Ireland.

This year’s conference, the nation’s largest gathering of banking professionals who run travel programs, was hosted by Visit Milwaukee and numerous partners from the city and state of Wisconsin.

Delegates enjoyed major functions at the Harley-Davidson Museum and Potowatomi Bingo Casino, and attended business and educational sessions at the city’s Midwest Airlines Center.

“These bankers are so coveted as travel partners by our industry that it makes our job as meeting planners a pleasure,” said BankTravel Conference chairman Charlie Presley. “To have the industry’s best-known tour operators and travel destinations join us year after year and come to meet with these bankers speaks volumes about their sphere of influence as travel buyers.”

The delegation at this conference did include an impressive collection of travel companies. Large international operators like Collette Vacations, Globus Family of Brands, Tauck World Discovery and Mayflower Tours were joined by highly specialized travel companies like Flemming Tours, Fantasy Cruises, Islands in the Sun Tours and Cruises, TRIPS and East Coast Touring Co., plus many others, to give this conference a vitality unmatched by many others.

Adding to that vitality this year was a new meeting format designed by Presley and his staff that was intended to bring all delegates into one large arena, where constant interaction was possible and few barriers to interaction existed.

The format worked, as exhibitors, bankers, travel delegates and others moved easily and seamlessly from seminars to business appointments to meal functions and back.
The “winter storm of 2010” arrived in Milwaukee the last day of the conference, but the vast majority of banks, suppliers and vendors saw the meeting through to its conclusion, and talk began of next year’s conference.

“A special thanks goes out to our Milwaukee and Wisconsin hosts, and specifically to Wendy Dobrzynski and Brent Forster, for all their hard work over the past year to host us,” said conference vice president Teresa Burton. “They did a superb job.”

Next year’s conference will take place in Baton Rouge, La., Feb. 6-8.

For registration information, go to or call (330) 332-3841.

Program Directors on Tour shows banks are busy traveling
A fascinating new feature appeared at the BankTravel Conference this year — a detailed listing of banks not attending the conference due to their travel schedules.

The most interesting thing about this bulletin board, titled Program Directors on Tour, was that the representatives of the listed banks were all traveling with tour companies or cruise companies that attend the conference — underscoring the value of the buyer/seller relationships developed at this conference.

Just a sampling of these entries included:

• Athens State Bank, Carol Chronister, in Italy with
Collette Vacations

• Jacksonville Savings Bank, Suzie Glisson, on Caribbean cruise with Cruises and Tours Worldwide

• Farmers and Merchants Bank, Joyce Janes, cruising the Mexican Riviera with Flemming Tours
• Phelps County Bank, Debbie Estey, in Hawaii with TRIPS

• Lee County Bank, Carla Meierotto, in the Western Caribbean with Islands in the Sun Cruises and Tours

In all, more than a dozen banks and bank delegates were on trips with companies with whom they regularly meet with at the BankTravel Conference. So who can complain?

“It must be working,” said Charlie Presley proudly. “We’re delighted to know they’re out there traveling with their groups, and we hope to see them next year at the conference in Baton Rouge.”

Mac Lacy

Mac Lacy is president and publisher of The Group Travel Leader Inc. Mac has been traveling and writing professionally ever since a two-month backpacking trip through Europe upon his graduation with a journalism degree from the University of Evansville in 1978.