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Select Traveler Reveals Planners’ Influence

I just returned from our annual Select Traveler Conference in Louisville, Kentucky, and I’m always inspired by the vast array of travel that comes up in conversation there. It is an exhilarating way to kick off our year.

Thanks to the great work of our moderators, we had another outstanding breakout session in Louisville, which allows me to examine the comments from dozens of planners in the room. Here are just three that caught my eye this year:

“If I’m O.K., they’re O.K.”

This was one delegate’s response to a question about the effects of terrorism incidents. What a powerful statement! This planner may or may not realize how significant that sentiment is. If the planner is ready to go see a part of the world, so are the planner’s travelers. They have that much trust in the leadership and travel expertise this person possesses. They follow, and the world is opened to them.

“They must be good — our time is important.”  And, “Yes, if it’s someplace we honestly believe we’ll go.”   

These are two responses regarding familiarization trips and whether our delegates use them. I really like the matter-of-fact approach these two planners expressed. The responses in general were favorable regarding the value of these trips, but these planners emphasized the investment they make to participate. These are research events intended to yield return trips with their groups.

“Our travelers are always on the lookout for what’s next.  We put out a seven-to-eight-event schedule and they’ll say, ‘What else?’”

I don’t doubt this. Many of these groups have travelers who have been to nearly every continent on Earth. In 20 years of travel with a bank, chamber or alumni group, a couple could easily have done 40 to 50 trips. It’s no wonder these delegates tell us they must continually strike a balance between going someplace new and offering all the old favorites. The travel appetites of their memberships are incredibly diverse.

I believe that’s why so many planners make a point of telling us how much they learn about unfamiliar places by attending. May it ever be so.

Email me anytime with your thoughts at

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.