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SHREVEPORT, La. – A jaunt to Dallas on an air-conditioned chartered bus for back-to-school shopping for the grandkids; a Texas-style barbecue with a Cajun twist; a gift bag stocked with a cloth, foldaway chair, canvas tote bag and Khaki shirts with gold-stitched embroidery – all paid for by Shreveport Federal Credit Union. The credit union took 300 members of its Club Prestige to Texas on Aug. 15 for its fifth annual day excursion as a show of appreciation for those 50 years and older who have accounts at the credit union. While in Dallas, members had their choice of shopping in the city’s plethora of malls, attending a number of area museums or taking part in a fishing expedition. While Shreveport FCU President/CEO Helen Godfrey admits the Club Prestige accounts are loss leaders, the Dallas trip with all its trimmings, do more to spread the word about what the credit union has to offer than anything else. “Imagine 300 cheerleaders who rah rah for their credit union,” Godfrey said. “That was their day, it was an excellent trip.” With $56 million in assets, Shreveport FCU serves 15,000 members in several parishes and offers the standard fare of checking, savings, loans, insurance and certificates of deposits. What it lacks in size, it makes up for in connecting with the community, Godfrey said. The Club Prestige accounts continue to woo everyone from retirees, university professors and the recently widowed. Godfrey said 90 new accounts were opened as a result of the trip. The credit union has 1,000 Club Prestige accounts in total. The account package includes free checking, free travelers’ checks and money orders, access to personal financial management services and educational seminars on investments and financial planning. Godfrey began offering the account in 1995 and has modified it over the years, doing away with a prescription discount card a few years ago because of its reliance on an outside vendor. Looking for a way that would differentiate the small credit union from others in the marketplace, Godfrey came up with the idea of the day trips to draw older residents to the credit unions. While the trips “are expensive and not for the faint-hearted,” the payoff almost always results in increased business. “Once we get their accounts opened here, then we’ll have their car loan, their kids may open accounts and on and on,” Godfrey said. “The 50 and older group is a very loyal group.” Since 1998, members have enjoyed all-expense paid trips to such places as Hot Springs, Ark. and Vicksburg, Miss. Godfrey said the only limitations are that the destination must be within three hours of Shreveport. Members have almost always come up with ideas of where to go. Bertia Copeland has been a member of Shreveport FCU for decades and this is her third trip. She could have easily transferred to a larger financial institution but chose to stick with Shreveport because of its “family-like atmosphere.” “When you know that they genuinely care about you and have your best interests at heart, it’s hard to break away,” Copeland said. Godfrey launches a marketing campaign through the credit union’s March and June newsletters and sends out a direct mail trip reminder to current members. “Many of the seniors here are retirees and they look forward to breaking away from their daily routine,” Godfrey said. “This is our way of drawing them closer to the credit union and rewarding them for their loyalty to us.” [email protected]

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