Rosemont: Chicago Travel & Adventure Show

The Chicago Travel & Adventure Show is billed as the Mid-West’s largest travel show, with “thousands of vacation options under one roof”.  If you were the type to “explore your cultural side” and enjoy “top chef demos and dance performances that transport you to distant lands”, this was the show for you.  Keynoter Rick Steves gave a glimpse into “Europe Through The Back Door”, showing delegates all the latest on stretching the travel dollar, avoiding crowds, packing smart, and eating and sleeping well.  Pauline Frommer, editorial director of the Frommer Guides, was another keynoter offering “money-saving methods of travel, less usual destinations and ways to tailor your vacation so that it fits your personality”.  Tahiti Tourism North America was there to tell us about “an island paradise just eight hour from Los Angeles but seemingly a world away — closer than you think and easier to travel to then you might imagine”.  Hey, does my butt look big in this grass skirt…?

Miami: ASTA Global

Sept. 16-19, 2013. The ASTA Global Convention brings together all walks of travel professionals for a conference talking to the most influential buyers in the industry. As the leading advocate for travel agents, the travel industry and the traveling public, ASTA and its members represent 80% of all travel sold by travel agencies in the United States. Retail travel selling, we heard, is undergoing a revolution. The impact is set to be bigger than elimination of commissions, and as important as automation itself. Airlines have been leading the way in changing the way travel is sold, and cruise lines and hotels are beginning to follow.  The traveling public’s ability to shop anonymously and to compare base prices and services will be challenged by this approach. Delegates to ASTAGlobal needed to understand firsthand what is coming and how it will affect the travel industry and its clients.  Hillary Rodham Clinton thought this was important enough to justify turning up to speak…c

Las Vegas: FTE

September 4-6 2013. FTE?  It stands for Future Travel Experience, and it’s a global affair.  This independent global forum for the travel industry focused on the end-to-end travel process from the passenger point of view – from the moment of booking through to the collection of baggage at the arrival destination – and assessed how every aspect of the passenger experience on the ground can be improved. Hosted by McCarran International Airport, one of the most progressive airport authorities in the world, the event delivered a learning and networking platform through workshops, conferences, airport tours, social events, an awards ceremony and a full exhibition program.  Said program was neatly divided into an “On The Ground” section (focused on the latest passenger-facing tech) and an “Up In The Air” section (looking in detail at The Passenger Experience).  Watch out, apparently there’s a new beast up there called the “Me-Centric Passenger”….

San Diego: GBTA

August 4-6, 2013. GBTA is the Global Business Travel Association, and it’s the world’s premier business travel and meetings organization. The Association wields serious spending power: GBTA’s 5,000-plus members manage over $340 billion (yes billion) of global business travel and meetings expenditures annually. GBTA serves a network of 21,000 business and government travel and meetings managers, as well as the travel service providers who serve them. Breakout sessions were an education, from contract negotiation and financial modeling to safety and sustainability. Other topics discussed ranged from the, well, global — Fundamentals of Business Travel Management — to the particular, for instance a session on Preparing Female Travelers for Safe Trips.  Speaking of females… females were speaking:  the big names included former first ladies Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton, not to mention the acclaimed singer-songwriter Jewel.  When business travel is concerned, you’d be amazed who can turn up in the seat next to you…

Honolulu: Hawaii Lodging and Foodservice Expo

July 9-10, 2013. It’s full name is the Hawaii Lodging, Hospitality and Foodservice Expo.  It claims to be the largest trade exposition in the State of Hawaii, and the only event there providing access for industry buyers to a comprehensive range of products and services for the State’s most important economic sectors.  A full program of industry seminars was offered, and  the primary objective of the Expo was to bring industry professionals together with corresponding industry vendors to create an effective and efficient marketplace on the exhibition hall floor.  Strategically located in the mid-Pacific between Asia and the continental United States, the Hawaiian Islands are visited annually by nearly 7 million tourists from all over the world. Valued at $10 billion annually, the Hawaii hospitality market is served by 70,000 hotel rooms and resort condominium rental and timeshare units, plus 3,000 restaurants and foodservice establishments. Hey, thanks for the lei, sweetheart…  Hawaii sure is a nice place to visit…

Las Vegas: US Travel PowWow

June 7-9, 2013. The U.S. Travel Association’s International PowWow is the travel industry’s premier international marketplace and the largest generator of Visit USA travel – not your typical trade show, according to insiders. In three days of intensive pre-scheduled business appointments, more than 1,000 U.S. travel organizations from every region of the USA (representing all industry category components), and close to 1,200 International and Domestic Buyers from more than 70 countries, conducted business negotiations that resulted in the generation of over $3.5 billion in future Visit USA travel. At International PowWow, buyers and sellers are able to conduct business that would otherwise be generated only through an exhausting, and costly, program of around-the-world trips.  Striking a blow for US tourism, and as the national public-private destination marketing entity, Brand USA was there to inspire travelers to explore the United States’ boundless possibilities, partnering with the U.S. travel industry to maximize the economic and social benefits of travel for communities nationwide.  What are they shouting?  USA! USA!…

Hollywood FL: ARDA

April 7-11, 2013. ARDA stands for the American Resort Development Association, and its big focus seems to be timeshare. This is the trade association representing the vacation ownership and resort development industries (i.e. timeshares in ordinary parlance). ARDA has almost 1,000 corporate members ranging from privately held firms to publicly traded corporations with extensive experience in shared ownership interests in leisure real estate. The membership also includes timeshare owner associations (HOAs), resort management companies, industry vendors, suppliers, and consultants; as well as owners, through the ARDA Resort Owners Coalition. The ARDA International Foundation (AIF) offers professional and educational development through publications covering the industry’s ethical, legal, regulatory, and operational intricacies; study courses; and tests that assess industry knowledge.  Market intelligence recognizes no “black dates”, apparently…