All Together Now Travel — an observation from a trade show junkie | TravelResearchOnline

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All Together Now Travel — an observation from a trade show junkie

Over the course of my time in the travel industry I have had the opportunity to attend many, many events and conventions put on by various organizations. I began the journey way back when with Joel Abels’ Travel Trade Shows and though the years have gone to CLIA 360’s, ASTA TradeShows, NACTA Conferences, Vacation.Com Conventions, HomeBased Agent Shows, Luxury Shows, Travel Weekly Shows…well – you get the idea. 

In addition to the exhibit halls where I have the chance to meet the suppliers face to face, at most of these shows I have had a wealth of seminars to choose from – marketing, social media, client management systems, destinations, supplier training, and also the various subcategories of selling travel such as luxury, adventure, home based, cruises, romance, etc. You find yourself running from one end of the convention center to the other in order to get to them all. But in the end, you come back to the office with your head absolutely swimming with so many wonderful ideas that you are usually too overwhelmed to implement any one of them effectively.

Oddly enough, one seminar that usually gets a good turnout centers on “Finding Your Niche” – why you should do it, and how you can better serve that segment of the market because you are truly meeting the needs of that client looking for a niche travel experience..

In retrospect I look back and find this somewhat ironic, as I have just attended a fairly small conference put on by the new Destination Wedding & Honeymoon Specialists Association (DWHSA). This is one of the few conferences where I have truly listened and carried out this “niche” mantra. The conference was entirely focused on selling romance travel – period. It did not try to get fancy by dividing us up into any subsets – it was just destinations, suppliers and topics that served the romance market.

One of the best seminars was presented by Jennifer Doncsecz of VIP Vacations, where she discussed the Psychology of the Millennial Bride. She provided the attendees with information on dealing with the target market, and was also was able to suggest small shifts in procedures to meet the needs of this niche clientele, that could be easily implemented Monday morning.

Imagine that – I learned something just this past weekend that I brought into the office and started today.

As I hear more and more trade show organizers lament the ever decreasing turnout to the shows that try to be all things to all people, I have to wonder – have the days of the multiple large “generalist” travel shows throughout the year seen their heyday? In this day and age where so many of us are independent, one-man agencies footing our own bills for the travel to the shows, perhaps it is time to take the lead of this fledgling association and really focus on the smaller niche, provide actionable content and keep the conferences short, sweet and to the point.

What do you think? Do you still like the large travel shows with a broad range of content or do you think a short and focused conference would better allow you to get in, learn and get back to the office and the business of selling travel more efficiently?

Barbara Oliver is an 8 year veteran of the industry operating two independent travel companies All Together Now Travel and Romantic Journeys (both currently being redesigned) in the Los Angeles Area.  In addition to her agencies she is theLos Angeles director of NACTA as well as a regular attendee and frequent panelist at many trade shows. She has her CTA from The Travel Institute and her ECC from CLIA.

  5 thoughts on “All Together Now Travel — an observation from a trade show junkie

  1. Lori Derauf says:

    I like your idea of short, more focused content, Barb.

  2. I would really love conferences and shows that provide solid actionable content like you mention … focused on marketing and other aspects of BUSINESS … not just suppliers & destinations telling you about their product/destination and how to sell it alone. 😉

  3. Julie Conway says:

    It would be fantastic to attend a “niche” centered trade show. I rarely go to trade shows anymore because it is just a rehashing of what I’ve already heard with the same speakers. Generalist trade shows are great for someone new to the industry, but not for those who have been around a while and have attended these shows.

  4. Brenda says:

    It was great to see you at the show Barb! I loved the smaller and niche specific conference and I am looking forward to next year. I’ve done the larger shows and have never learned anything “business-wise”. I think just like the industry niche specific shows are the way to go.

  5. Jamie Bachrach says:

    I agree with Julie. The last conference I went to was the Home Based in Las Vegas in May and it was all over the place and the focus and organization was quite lacking. Prior to that, I was invited to attend Mid-Atlantic in Reykjavik and it was much smaller and the focus was more to the niche markets of Scandinavia, but also for those coming from Europe, to the North American niche, the common thread being the markets of Icelandair. It could have been more focused also, but it was much more focused than the larger shows including Luxury Travel which I used to attend, but not since it became LTX. I may re-consider, but spending time cyphering through hundreds of vendors to find the few in which I am interested, makes the thought of going to these larger shows less desirable, just to be a part of a crowd. Many years ago, I attended some of the ASTA destination Expos, in Prague and Lyon and they were good, but they were more focused on the regions that were represented and these were niches in which I was interested. In order for the travel professional to succeed, we needed to change our paradigm; I think it is time for the giant trade shows to do the same thing, focus on smaller niche areas where there may be more to detail rather than trying to be everything to everybody.

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