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Travel Planners Compare Notes

On March 30, for the first time ever, we assembled a group of about 150 travel planners for banks, chambers of commerce and alumni associations for face-to-face conversations at the Select Traveler Conference in Huntsville, Alabama. Our kickoff program at the conference was the popular breakout session where planners sit and share ideas in a relaxed environment.

While “historic” is too big a term for that session, “cutting edge” is not. This was the first time in the travel industry that these three influential community groups sat down together at the same conference to compare notes, which only makes sense because the Select Traveler magazine is, likewise, the only one that has unified them as a new industry readership.

I thought a few of the comments they recorded for our consideration were particularly interesting as a result. Program participants will be able to read those comments in our “Best Practices” handbook, which will be sent by the Select Traveler Conference to all attendees.

“Our travelers like to be part of a winning team, part of something successful,” read one comment. This was made in reference to all three groups — a similarity that binds them. That’s very telling. Banks, chambers and alumni associations all strive to be winners and to have their members feel like part of a winning team. Great travel programs accomplish that objective very well.

“Universities stress educational value in their trips, and they do it to raise their profile with alumni,” read another comment. That was followed by: “Banks travel to retain customers, build relationships, earn loyalty and get referrals. Chambers travel for community outreach and visibility — and to create added value for being a member.”

That comment captured some of the subtle differences among the three groups quite well.

“Alumni and chambers deal with much more varied ages,” read a third comment. That is a dynamic that many banks are seeking to emulate right now — to gather travelers of different ages. Perhaps learning from those chambers and alumni groups through this magazine and the conference will be helpful.

There was this hopeful comment from one bank about how that has begun to take place for them:

“For us, millennials and Gen Xers are usually a guest of an older traveler. Older travelers will invite younger travelers to come along.”

The last comment I include seemed tailor made for wrapping up both this column and that breakout session. In response to a question we posed about “preferred destinations for groups,” one commenter wrote:

“When you figure that out, write a book!”

That’s not a bad idea.


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.