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Buffalo Hosts Energetic Select Traveler Conference

BUFFALO, New York Nearly 200 travel industry delegates, hosts, speakers and guests converged in Buffalo, New York, for the 2024 Select Traveler Conference. Held March 17–19, the conference was a spirited gathering that kicked off on St. Patrick’s Day and celebrated a growth year ahead for domestic and international travel destinations.

Two busy marketplace sessions provided several hours of group travel meetings, as buyers and sellers met to discuss itineraries for the remainder of 2024 and future years.

“We have about 20% new buyers this year, and our travel industry delegates have full books of appointments,” said Select Traveler Conference general manager Jennifer Ferguson. “Buffalo is a very easy city to enjoy, and Patrick Kaler and Michael Even have led an enthusiastic Visit Buffalo/Niagara team as our hosts for this superb event.”

“Buffalo’s greatest asset is its people,” said Kaler. “We are truly a city of good neighbors. Over the past 12-15 years there has been a renaissance here on our waterfront, canal side and inner harbor. Arts and culture in Buffalo have been revitalized, and our culinary assets have grown immensely. From our famous beef on weck and Buffalo wings, to fine dining in notable restaurants, Buffalo has grown foodie fans throughout the world.”

The signature event of the conference was Buffalo’s reception, plated dinner and entertainment by youthful Irish dancers from Buffalo on St. Patrick’s Day evening at its Admiral Room at the Marin. The resplendent Buffalo venue hosts dozens of weddings, corporate outings and gala events each year.   

Major meal and event sponsors included Collette, James B. Beam Distilling Company, U.S. Tours, Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino and Explore Branson. A dozen additional sponsors promoted their companies or destinations at gatherings in the conference theater or on branded conference items like apps, phone chargers or name badges.

Nearly 40 travel planners for banks, chambers of commerce, alumni groups and other upscale organizations attended a two-hour breakout session designed to identify trends and marketing ideas for buyers.  The session was managed by Donna Olson of Partners Bank in Spencer, Wisconsin, and Pam Cox Previte of Tumbleweed Tours in Spring, Texas.

Olson summed up the travel activity represented at the conference well.

“Next month, we’re headed to Savannah, Charleston and Asheville with 25 travelers; we are looking at a trip this summer to Branson and Eureka Springs; and we’ll take 30-35 this September to Nashville for the 100th anniversary of the Grand Ole Opry. I’m also making plans to take a group on a Switzerland rail trip very soon.”

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.