Heritage Clubs International (HCI), the national loyalty organization for community banks, is setting its sights on Southern Nevada for its annual conference and marketplace.

 Rockets Over The River in Laughlin NV. George Bekich Photo.

Laughlin NV. George Bekich Photo.

Slated in Laughlin (90 minutes south of Las Vegas), the event brings together bank travel club managers with destinations and tour operator partners. Heritage Clubs is the original − and with the recent exit of Bank Travel from the market − the only organization dedicated to the nation’s community bank travel clubs.

The annual Heritage Clubs Peer Group event is known for having a strong line-up of educational speakers and this year is no exception. The headliner is Randy Hellrung, instructor from the International Tour Management Institute. He will share his extensive knowledge of the various mobile apps available to tour directors while out on tour. Hellrung has delighted Heritage Clubs members in previous sessions.

“I could have listened to Randy all day! As club directors we could relate to his experiences,” said Myra Horton of Iowa State Bank, commenting on a recent seminar Hellrung gave to HCI members. “He was an excellent presenter with so much knowledge and insight.”

Social media will also be a main focus with social media expert Muriel Clark discussing successful strategies and pitfalls when developing social media programs. With a strong background in banking, Clark will point out obstacles that confront banks when they begin using social media and how to overcome them. She will also discuss the right social media platforms for banks, how to use them, finding time for social media and creating unique content.

In a session titled “Building an Emergency Reference Guide,” bank club directors will collaborate to achieve a uniform process to provide an emergency reference guide for HCI club directors in the event of an emergency or disaster.

Lively Trade Event

Suppliers are encouraged to decorate their booth and display literature in an open trade show format. Bankers are incentivized to visit all booths, allowing for unrestrained time to find new destinations and discuss building itineraries. The tight ratio of suppliers to bankers avoids oversaturation.

Working Hard, Having Fun

After a full day of learning, this group is ready to have some fun! Good thing there are plenty of sightseeing tours and social functions to round out the activities. Tours include a visit to Don Laughlin’s classic car collection at the Riverside Resort. Nearby Oatman, Ariz. features wild burros, staged gun fights and lunch at the famous Oatman Hotel, where Clark Gable and Carole Lombard honeymooned. Attendees also enjoy a cruise on the USS Riverside, traveling under the Laughlin/Bullhead City Bridge to Davis Dam and ending with lunch at a brewery.

Evening functions include a culinary event hosted by Laughlin, Nevada partners at the Aquarius Resort and Casino. And after a great week of working hard, Peer Group attendees will hang loose on the white sandy beachfront of the Colorado River at Harrah’s Laughlin in a closing event sponsored by Globus Family of Brands. As has become tradition, the closing night event will include HCI’s awards and recognition ceremony. For more information, contact Heritage Clubs International at 877-881-0229 or visit heritageclubs.com.

2014 Launches Three New Regional Trade Shows for the Group Market

The trend this year is relevant regional travel shows that spotlight local destinations and more face-time between buyers and sellers. Leisure Group Travel is a proud sponsor of the following events:

Midwest Marketplace Adds Post-Event Fam Trip

Response has been overwhelming for the inaugural event, which takes place May 4-6 near Madison, Wis. Destination representatives from seven Midwest states will meet with tour buyers in one-on-one appointment sessions. A post-fam will visit The Fireside Theatre and Milwaukee attractions. For fam details, contact Wendy Dobrzynski at Visit Milwaukee, 414-287-4222. Registration and show information is available directly from Circle Wisconsin, 800-223-0652.

Spotlight Travel Network Adds Southeast Event

Spotlight on the Southwest Conference is now in its 16th year with the 2014 event expected to be more popular than ever. It takes place at the Grand Canyon South Rim in Arizona. 2014 heralds the arrival of the Inaugural Spotlight on the Southeast in Biloxi, Miss. Sponsored in part by the Mississippi Gulf Coast Regional CVB and Visit Mississippi, the state’s tourism authority, the event promises a strong Southern flair in showcasing group-friendly destinations across the region. A post-fam is scheduled to Pensacola, Fla.

Spotlight Travel Network (STN) is an informal group of travel professionals throughout North America who value and seek mutually successful business relationships. The group seeks to build open and honest relationships, pursue growth and learning, and adhere to a family spirit. Spotlight combines educational seminars, networking functions and a trade show. Tour operators are primarily domestic and Canadian, ranging from small operations to large receptive companies. The ratio of suppliers to operators is never more than 2.5 to 1. For more information, visit spotlighttravelnetwork.com.

New England Travel Showcase

Looking to create incredible New England itineraries? The New England Travel Showcase aims to help. Set in Springfield, Mass., the show will give tour operators the opportunity to meet with qualified suppliers during prescheduled eight-minute appointments, networking sessions, meals and social events.

The show’s organizer, Chris Donnelly, said, “I have been a member of the New England group travel industry since 1985. I started as a sales representative and have attended shows all over the United States and Canada but have never attended a group show in New England. Fifteen years ago, a good friend of mine, Jack O’Neil, and I thought it would be great to offer a show in New England, and I have had this on my desk for that long. Other regional shows have been very successful, now is the time to bring one to New England.”

Expected to attend the November event are more than 200 exhibitors from Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut, Vermont and New Hampshire. In planning New England’s only trade show for the domestic group travel industry, the organizers aim to make sure time and investment produces results. In three days tour planners will learn about new products and spark new ideas to create sellable itineraries. Find out more by calling 888-889-8681 or visit newenglandtravelshowcase.com.