Hawthorn Bank

Rebooting Bank Travel Programs

Click the play button to listen the entire interview

With locations across the central and western part of Missouri, Hawthorn Bank is a dominant financial institution serving communities across the region. Their robust travel program was put on hold this spring, but with travelers itching to get out again, Marketing Director Larry Dawson took the initiative to reboot the program with a nine-day adventure to Colorado.

“Like a lot of my peers, I had 2020 in the books. I had 2021 all set to go and then COVID hit, so we had to go back to the drawing board,” Dawson said. “We had trips planned for April through August that we just decided to push into next year. But this trip to Colorado we did through US Tours, and I felt like it was pretty conducive to controlling our environment for the most part. The majority of the trip was outdoors. I wanted to give it a shot.”

He continued, “When I rolled the trip out last fall, I had 40 people who paid their deposit. Then the virus hit and I thought, ‘what’s going to happen with this trip?’ So we waited and watched to try and figure out how to handle it. I sent out the final payment letter and only had six people decide that they didn’t want to do it. The others were ready to rock and roll.”

Dawson explains that even during the pandemic, they saw plenty of tourist activity in Colorado. “Every place we went to in Colorado was packed with people. All the trains we went on were sold out. The hotels were 70 percent capacity or more. The restaurants were busy.”

He credits the success of this first trip on diligence of all involved. “We went to great lengths to be sure that our people were going to be safe on this trip. I met with the bus company several times and they assured me things would be fine. The bus driver fogged down the bus at the end of each day and wiped all the seats down. We took everybody’s temperature each day before they got on the bus. I would venture to say that the bus was one of the cleanest places we were all week. Other group leaders need to know that.”

As far as the trip was concerned, Dawson said, “Everybody just thoroughly enjoyed the trip. The weather was fantastic the entire time. Every train we went on we had our own car, so it was just our group.”

As for advice for other bank travel clubs, Dawson said communication is the key with passengers. “The really good thing we did before the trip was letting people know what to expect. We made it very clear that we were going to hit snags along the way. Setting expectations properly ensured that everyone returned home safe, and satisfied with the journey.”

With a full slate of trips planned for 2021, Dawson is hopeful that life gets back to normalcy.