Travel Writers Bonanza – a weekend in New York City.
The New York Times travel show hit the Jacob Javits Centre in NYC January 18 – 20. Travel writers and the tourism industry were in full force, meeting and greeting. It was an amazing networking event and this aspiring travel writer was thrilled to meet so many talented people!
To be honest, I was a little nervous. Feeling like a little fish in a huge ocean, I walked into the Jacob Javits Conference Centre Friday morning not knowing a soul. For those who are new to Travel Destination Bucket List – I joined the ranks of travel writers and bloggers in August 2011 with my first piece … Have Passport, Must Travel. The passion I feel about travel is all consuming – I would be traveling and exploring the world every day of the week if I could! It boggles my mind when I meet people who have never left the region they were born in! It is such a big world out there! I ooze with travel ideas….if I haven’t been, I probably have plans to go! So, you may ask…where to next?
But, I digress…the excitement of thinking about unchartered destinations makes it hard for me to concentrate! Back to the travel show!
The show itself was full of life like no other show I have ever been to! There were cultural demonstrations with full traditional costumes, music and dance, regional food and drinks were on offer as well as book signings and a live animal show by Sea World (the sloth really stole the show!).
Social Media and the Travel Industry
Friday had a range of travel industry seminars – I sat in on the talks for travel media, but also popped in to the Focus on Europe seminar. The room was jam packed from the opening comments by Lillian Africano (President of the Society of American Travel Writers) to the talk by Grant Martin, editor in chief at Gadling.com. I had so much to learn…I was like a sponge. Some interesting facts to come out of the talks…
- there are approximately 1/2 billion tweets every day. Social media is a “beast – we must feed it daily”
- the “Like” button is actually less than 4 years old! Do you remember a time without it? It is ubiquitous!
- social media has changed the face of travel research – most people research 10.2 sources before booking (source: David Pavelko, Head of Industry, Travel Vertical at Google)
- 66% of travelers use 5 sources on line (source: David Pavelko, Head of Industry, Travel Vertical at Google)
- content keys: relatable, shareable, useful, funny – this is what people are looking for!
Then the real learning started….I met and mingled with my travel writing peers! It was fascinating to listen to them talk. Passion really does speak volumes and I was dealing with a circle of people who were as passionate about travel as I was. Perhaps I am a travel writing newbie…but I was a little awe struck. These people were living my dream. Sure, there was talk of the hardships, lost luggage and challenges of being on the road….but there was such a sense of camaraderie – I really felt like I was home!
The Exhibit Hall
Over 500 destinations and tour operators had booths set up in the Jacob Javits. They were set up by region making it easy to literally navigate yourself around the world. It was brilliant…traditional costumes and performances, song and dance caught my attention. There was vegetable carving from Thailand, rock wall climbing and a the opportunity to meet and buy signed books by well known travel authors. It was a little overwhelming at first…I was glad to have 3 days to wander the halls and take it all in. Sea World brought in a live animal show – I did say that the sloth really stole the spotlight! There were penguins in the Antarctica booth and tasty Caribbean treats at the Antigua and Mexico booths, amongst others. Morocco’s “Travel for real” slogan revved up my dreams of travel to Northern Africa as did the larger than life animal posters that had me imaging being on safari! I really have to get to Africa!
I could feel the warmth of the Caribbean as I spoke with the people at their booths. It was hugs all round in Jamaica with Adam Sunset Resorts who shared tips and tricks on selecting the best hotels on the island! I know I will have to go down and get the full scoop to share with you…after all…insider tips on where to stay and what to do are always on the agenda!
Jordan as a destination is becoming more prominent – a hot spot for tourism in 2013! I don’t even know where to start. Check out their list – 99 things to do in Jordon….let’s live that list together. Just look at the colour in those posters…so inspiring! There will be plenty more to come on that subject.
Great to see Canada represented at the show, although I was a little surprised at how small our presence was. I guess, if you are the northern neighbour, you figure the people already know about you! Glad to see Quebec and the Maritimes represented – we have so much to offer – we really mustn’t keep it a secret.
Travel Writers Diner
Social media is an amazing thing. It is changing the way we live and evolving constantly. I never would have guessed, after a few on-line interactions with Lola of Where in the world is Lola, that I would be having diner in New York City on a Saturday night with such an amazing group of people, but sure enough, through twitter and face book, I was in! (This was much to the horror of the US Customs agent – when asked if I was meeting any people while in the US, I said I was meeting some friends for the first time. She was quite upset that I had not actually known them in person before and asked me – what if they are crazy! She had no idea!)
What a night! We collectively fed the social media beast (Pinterest, twitter, facebook, among others…all got a workout!). It is amazing we even got to eat our food hot as camera phones went into over drive. The food was amazing – EDI & the Wolf brought out a series of tasty treats and our group created quite a stir as we were all Lola-fied! One can certainly not say that travel writers are a quiet bunch of introverts….we created quite a sensation with boas and cameras going off all night long!
As a budding travel writer and enthusiast of all things travel…I can safely say, I plan on coming back to New York for the 2014 edition of the New York Times Travel Show.
Thinking about a trip to the New York Times travel show next year?
- Check out these tips from The Lazy Travelers for show tips for first timers!
- Need to get away from the hustle and bustle – take a walk along the urban garden – New York’s High Line