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Select Traveler Conference Shines in Panama City Beach

More than 140 delegates enjoyed a sunny break from winter in Panama City Beach, Florida, at the 2021 Select Traveler Conference, held February 28 to March 2 at the Sheraton Panama City Beach Resort. An impressive array of travel buyers from banks, chambers of commerce, alumni organizations and similar high-end affinity groups attended.

“Our theme for the conference was ‘Open for Tourism,’” said Charlie Presley, a partner in the 26-year-old conference and founder of The Group Travel Family, which manages the event. “Unlike other industry leaders who have chosen to go virtual with their events, Mac Lacy and I have chosen to remain steadfast in publishing outstanding magazines and offering face-to-face meetings that follow safety protocols and allow buyers and sellers to maintain their critical travel relationships.”

Sellers at the event had an average of more than 40 business appointments each, and sponsors had key presentation opportunities to bring travel planners up to date on their 2021 offerings. Major meal sponsors included U.S. Tours, the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum, Collette and Visit Cheyenne. Visit Panama City Beach sponsored an opening evening event outdoors on a beautiful night that included live music, dancing and outstanding food and beverage service. Other sponsors included major tour companies like Go Next, Star Destinations, and Mayflower Cruises and Tours.

More than 60 industry buyers turned out for their annual breakout session to start the event and shared many ideas about travel options now on the table for groups that are ready to begin traveling again. Under the leadership of volunteers Ashley Taylor of Smile Travelers in Ironton, Ohio, and Dick Perl of Young at Heart in Madisonville, Louisiana, they discussed safety protocols, destinations that are ready for groups, the positive effects of vaccines on their travelers’ attitudes and many other issues that will restart travel in the coming months.

“We had to move to a large ballroom to accommodate all the buyers who were eager to share ideas,” said conference partner Lacy. “These are resilient leaders in our industry who will help us lead the resurgence of worldwide group travel. Thanks to Dick and Ashley; they spent almost two hours sharing ideas about how to do that as soon as possible.”

For more information about attending a face-to-face group travel meeting this year, visit or call 800-628-0993.

For more information about advertising to thousands of active travel groups, visit or call 888-253-0455.

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.