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Damon Anderson, our Sales Account Manager and Director of Western Development, attended the Select Traveler Conference, which took place in Branson, MI from March 27-29, 2023. Select Traveler focuses on bringing together Travel Club Leaders from all over the country, specifically Bank Travel Clubs, with operators who work with corporations that offer loyalty programs – which increase and promote the travel industry. MARS has participated in the Select Conference for two years, and Damon was very pleased at the welcoming spirit he received by all involved with making this show operate. Continue reading to learn about his experience.
Will you give us an overview of your trip?
The Branson CVB and Supply partners hit a home run, leaving no stone unturned. The conference was wonderful. It was hosted at the Chateau on the Lake Resort and Conference Center. The conference began on Monday, March 27th with a great welcome reception that included a performance by a local Branson act,“Buckets and Boards,” who just made the room burst with laughter. We were also blessed to have a special guest, Yakov Smirnoff, the famed comedian from the 1980’s who has found a home in the Branson entertainment world and was in full attendance of the conference to help promote the destination.
Day 2 was split. Half the day consisted of fourteen scheduled appointments with travel club managers, and for the other half of the day we toured Branson, including a visit to the Titanic Museum, the Branson IMAX theatre, and the Clay Cooper Theatre to watch “The Haygood’s.” Having attended the Select Traveler Conference in 2022, I was excited to return with a deeper understanding of the best methods to work with the Travel Clubs attending the show, and I look forward to following up on multiple leads that I found at the show. I am also excited to continue to build strong working relationships with the new friends I met at the show.
Day 3 was a half-day filled with an additional twelve scheduled appointments which echoed the excitement of the previous day. All in all, I believe we have found new travel partners and additional referrals from new supply partners who are excited to work with us.
What did you enjoy the most about your experience?
I found that spending time with the club leaders in a relaxed environment outside of the seven-minute appointments was the most beneficial. Getting to know our clients was by far the best part of this experience. The conference hotel is a resort somewhat isolated from the Branson strip which afforded time to start conversations and personally connect with our clients. Branson did a phenomenal job of rolling out the red carpet and made it easy for everybody to relax and just talk. Sharing the sales floor with Yakov Smirnoff was really quite a treat as well.
What was your takeaway from the Show?
Branson has a great chain of partners from DMO’s that are up to 5 hours from Branson. Because of this amazing relationship with Branson, travelers can find a number of easily accessible, en route attractions and hotels in all directions. I am confident that any tour routing to Branson can be filled with attractive stops that are well established.
What are some exciting upcoming projects for you?
I have now identified the avenues for gaining the honor of being an approved vendor for clubs to use when planning tours, and I will be working to solidify our approvals for clubs that require vetting. Having spent time in Branson, I am confident that I can call any one of approximately twenty-five locals I met here in Branson to gain a quick connection to multiple attractions that are sure to interest those who want to experience the wonder of Branson.