2020 PEER GROUP CONFERENCE
The 2020 Peer Group conference was held in Independence, Missouri from February 24-28 at the Hilton Garden Inn. It was hosted by Visit Independence who also provided a delightful pre-conference FAM tour of the area along with a Monday Morning Sightseeing Tour. It was a wonderful conference with a brand new format for the schedule. All the PTO Showcases took place on Tuesday before the Business Appointment Marketplace (BAM) got started. While the bankers were in the Showcases, the Travel Partners were in a workshop putting together itineraries for the Bankers to consider. This gave the delegates an opportunity to hear about new destinations before sitting down with the PTOs and Partners for their appointments.
This was a banner year for new attendees. There were 17 bankers and 9 travel partners who experienced Peer Group for the first time this year. It is always fun to make new friends even as we love seeing long-time friends each year. Like the Girl Scouts used to say, "Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver and the other, gold."
Kristi Criswell and Mataya Thomas of Visit Independence were delightful hosts, and treated us to a lovely night out on the town square on Monday. We feasted on a delicious smorgasbord featuring many different local restaurants. After dinner and an informative presentation on the City and its events, we headed across the street for a fun and competitive game of trivia. It was a great way to get to know one another in a casual setting over a cocktail and engaging entertainment.
We were pleased to recognize two of our bankers who earned their Certified Bank Club Director (CBCD) designation. Congratulations to Kathy Bengtson of Iowa Falls State Bank and Tammy Browning of Central Bank in Spirit Lake, Iowa, for their tremendous accomplishment!
Our two keynote speakers this year are experts in their fields and provided us with insights that we found very helpful, both professionally and personally. Diana Ditto, Director of Product Design at Collette, shared Trends in Travel that her company has observed from their customers' experiences and feedback. She provided helpful tips to encourage Club Directors to provide unique and customized experiences for their members by doing some simple things like offering vouchers for Uber/Lyft so travelers can explore on their own and manage their own time and transportation while on the group tour. Mea Austin taught us how understanding our personal traits and strengths can help us to Flourish in our interactions with others. As an authorized licensee of the Culture Index TM, Mea provided each of us with individualized, objective data about the way we think and behave to help us maximize our strengths to thrive at work and at home. Both of our speakers were entertaining, engaging and insightful.
As always, we had several other educational sessions designed to help Club Directors be the most knowledgeable and successful professionals in their field. From Planning and Packing (Sherri Guiborat) to Managing Group Air Travel (Ping Lee, Rick Pharr and Susan Rosenberry), and from Help Me Help You to Open Mic sessions, our presenters and facilitators made possible the one-of-a-kind education that our delegates have come to expect from HCI.
Of course, there was also a lot of fun! From the Opening Ceremony to the final night, our sponsors provided entertainment, games and prizes to keep everyone smiling all week long. Sherry Logan from Hometown Bank of Corbin (KY) won a grand-prize trip from Mayflower Cruises and Tours on the very first day. We laughed from daylight to dusk on Wednesday when Collette provided the comedic juggling antics of "Juggling Jeff" Koziatek at breakfast, while Globus closed out the evening with improv entertainment by Office Party Comedy. In between, Hospitality Tours and the Canadian Maritimes: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Islands hosted games - Four Wheels of Fortune and Have you ever? - and prizes to help us get to know each other and have a ton of fun doing so. After all that, we ended the nights laughing and relaxing with cocktails, candy and hot chocolate in the Sweet Suite after dinner.
We want to thank all of our sponsors who made this year's Peer Group Conference possible. You are so important to the success of this conference and the reason that our members want to return year after year. THANK YOU!!
Aurora Area CVB
Tuesday Pre-dinner Reception
"Coming to Peer conference is a highlight to my year. The education and speakers provided this year were excellent! Having this conference gives me a new boost of confidence and guidance into the new year."
-Melanie Davis, CBCD
Farmers Savings Bank, Vinton, IA