Looking for some travel inspiration? A Travel Show may be exactly what you need

Renata and Rick Steves at the Dallas Travel Show
Jan 31 2016

Looking for some travel inspiration? A Travel Show may be exactly what you need

New year, time to start planning your 2016 vacation, right? In the past few weeks a lot of people wrote about the top destinations, up and coming places, off the beaten path options, etc. But how can you be sure what you see in a magazine, on TV or even in this blog, is the destination for you?

For me, one of the best ways to discover new places is by visiting your local travel show. If you live in a major city they will certainly host an expo, festival or tradeshow. E.g. these are the top events in the USA.

As I live in Austin, Texas, a natural choice for me is the Dallas Travel & Adventure Show 3 hours north. Last Friday was the media preview day, where journalists have the chance to walk the hall before the general public.

I was very well received by the organization putting on the event and met with COO Jim Forberg, whose company is responsible for 7 of the main travel shows in the USA. He introduced me to the layout of the floor and explained that destinations normally choose where to invest based on air lift, meaning, if there are direct flights between the 2 cities. So the booths you will see in a show in Los Angeles may be different from those you see in Chicago.

Nevertheless, you can expect a high concentration of knowledgeable people on several destinations around the world. “Here you find a qualified group of travel experts and agents who can easily answer all your questions. Of course you could do that online by yourself, but it would certainly take a lot more time”. Forberg is totally right.

Experiencing a Travel Show

Saturday. 30 min before the doors open to public, I’m already at the Convention Center. So are hundreds of other people. They are eager to see Rick Steves, the first keynote speaker this morning. For 1 ½ hours he talked to a full house about his expertise: traveling to Europe.

Then came Pauline Frommers with wonderful tips and tricks based on researches conducted by the staff of Frommers. She introduced the audience to websites few people had heard about and which were supposedly offering the best deals on airfares and accommodation – momondo.com and hotelscombined.com, respectively. But most importantly, she explained how fast things change in the industry. Things that worked last year (like booking airline tickets on Tuesdays and saving money by renting condos instead of staying in hotels) are not attractive options anymore.

It was the first time I ever sat down to see entire presentations at a travel show, and I regret I didn’t attend them before. The experts brought many interesting points of view that I was not even considering, and that alone made the trip worth it.

Have some Fun!

But lets say you are not the sit down type of person and you’d rather be active. Or you have kids, who will not be interested in travel conversations. The good thing about such events is that there are entertainment options as well.

Here in Dallas there were camel rides, scuba diving, rock climbing… And I can tell you, I saw a lot of people over 18 in line! I could not resist some fun and got my picture taken on a green screen!

Some of the booths offered show specials as well, varying from hotels nights, international airfares to all expenses paid trips. Today there are probably some lucky winners planning some unexpected days off.

Simple tips to get the most out of a Travel Show

Whether you visit the Dallas Travel & Adventure show or other events, I prepared a list of things to keep in mind to help you take the most out of an event like this:

  • Give yourself some time. Try to dedicate at least 3 hours to walk around and talk to the exhibitors. If you only have 1 hour you may end up rushing throughout the show, probably missing on great opportunities

  • A travel show is a great place to learn about cities and cultures that otherwise you wouldn’t have considered. It’s good to have an idea about where you’d like to visit, but be open to new possibilities

  • If you’ve already researched the destination online, now it’s the time to ask the hard questions. Most of the exhibitors bring people who either live in the city/country they’re promoting or are constant travelers, so they are the best ones to answer those things only a local would know

  • If you have kids, take a look at the event’s website what are the entertainment options they have, specially if you need to come prepared. In Dallas for instance, if you wanted to go to the pool you needed to bring swimsuit and towel. Make sure you know the exact hours the activities you are interested on will occur, so that the whole family can enjoy

  • Talking about planning, most of the shows also bring experts to present destinations or travel related topics. Celebrity guests generally attract a huge audience, so research if additional tickets are required for the session you want and how much time in advance you should arrive

  • Last but not least, I know that in the internet age everything is easier online – from researching to detailed planning and booking. But the person to person contact still makes a difference. Travel experts and agents may be able to give you that one idea no computer would ever guess. Even better: they may get you inside discounts with no promo codes or expiration dates. Just remember to ask.

I certainly got inspired for 2016, with so many ideas of great new places to visit. This one was already my second trip in January and I’m glad the year is just in the beginning.

 

And you? What did you think? Any more Tips to share?

2 Comments

  • Elizabeth O. March 17, 2016 at 12:57 am

    That’s so much fun! I’ve never been to a travel show before! I imagine it would be just as exciting and it will really inspire you to travel more, without a doubt!

    Reply
    • Renata Pereira Travel Blogger
      Renata March 17, 2016 at 8:18 am

      Certainly, Elizabeth! And it can also be very fun! 🙂

      Reply

Let me know what you think!