2014’s Hottest Travel Trade Shows & Conferences for DMOs

December 2, 2013

It’s already December, which means if you’re anything like our travel trade team, you’ve survived most of 2013’s wave of trade shows dedicated to promoting destinations to tour operators. There is still time to attend the remaining 2013 shows, which we have listed below.

With 2014’s travel trade shows on the rise, such as the Adventure Travel Show and New York Times Travel Show, we wanted to share our key thoughts on how to best market your DMO. Keep these tips in mind when considering your 2014 travel trade planning process.

After all, if done right, attending these shows ensures that DMOs increase sales, spread awareness and build lasting relationships. And that’s a cause we can all rally behind.

Marketing Best Practices for DMOs Attending Travel Trade Shows/Conferences

1. Add an innovative and interactive factor to your booth.

Many organizations are overly formal and use too many print brochures. To attract others to your booth, add a trendy digital component and focus on interacting with your audience.

Here are some ideas for inspiration:

      • Play a game that ties in with your destination to create a sense of competition. If your DMO highlights casinos as a big attraction, why not play blackjack at your booth?  If your CVB has a rich history, incorporate a trivia game with historical landmarks.
      • During last year’s New York Times Travel Show, Visit Korea used 3-D Samsung (headquartered in Seoul) TVs to attract prospects. Attendees enjoyed the interactive aspect of trying on 3-D glasses and watching the video.
      • During this year’s VAST, Australia had attendees paint on a large canvas. After completion, the finished painting was hung in the Sydney Opera House!

2. Allow your destination to be seen in a “new light.”

It’s well known that educating others with updated information is key in travel trade. However, find ways to make your destination stand out from competition by offering new aspects about your destination. To stand out in presentations, Dubai ties in a “Field of Dreams” concept into their strategy: “if you build it; they will come.” Although Dubai doesn’t have a long history, the DMO focuses on educating the public on Dubai’s recent accomplishments such as the world’s tallest building and the world’s largest indoor amusement park making it more family friendly.

3. Make giveaways memorable.

Everyone loves giveaways–but how do you make them memorable? Keep it personal and add a cultural component that attendees can take home.

For example, hire a calligrapher to transfer attendee’s names into an art piece that they can bring home.

During a roadshow, Dubai’s team took green screen photos of attendees in front of the Burj Al Arab. Those that participated were able to bring the photo home in a frame.

4. Leverage social media.

While you’re at the show, your priority should be face-to-face interaction. However, leveraging social media will draw more prospects to your booth. Try using an image or video based social media platform such as Vine or Instagram. Videos can bring an event to life and are easily shared. Hashtag the show and see what feedback you receive!

5. Segment your message.

Attend shows that allow you to tailor your message to your audience. For instance, if you have an amazing golf destination story, consider attending IAGTO. If your destination has unique outdoor activities, such as caving, bungee jumping or rafting, consider attending the Adventure Travel World Summit. If your destination has potential to be a hit in the cruise industry, why not attend Cruse3sixty?

6.  Pre-schedule appointments with travel planners and tour operators.

Relationships are key with travel planners and tour operators. Reach out to industry contacts by phone and personally invite them to connect before the show to guarantee meetings and increase ROI. If your organization doesn’t have strong ties, find a firm that is connected to these core groups.  Firms that specialize in travel trade relations will be integral in helping you make appointments in advance.

7. Engage with the media.

Most trade shows/conferences have one day dedicated to media and industry. Take advantage of the opportunity to engage with the media in an effort to keep your destination top of mind.  The best way to engage with the media–request registered media lists ahead of time. If you want media coverage, know your newest selling points and news stories that will catch the media’s attention. Make sure your interactive booth components are arranged for that day and pre-schedule visits around that programming.

8. Follow up!

Make sure you follow up to reap results of your involvement in the trade show/conference and maximize ROI. Follow up can be as simple as sending an email blast to those you met by thanking them for their time or following up with people that had specific requests. Try to add a personal touch, such as including your corporate headshot in email signatures.

Here’s a slideshow of the hottest travel trade shows to attend during the remainder of 2013 and into 2014:

United  States Tour Operators Assoc

United States Tour Operators Association Annual Conference and Marketplace

Event Information:

  • December 5-7, 2013
  • Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, Scottsdale, AZ

 Why Attend? USTOA’s conference, which is open to members only, holds the largest group of US based tour operators—it’s the best time to connect with those operators who are prominent in the US. In fact, this organization’s member companies are responsible for the majority of tours and vacation packages sold by travel agents in the US.

Adventure Travel Show


Adventure Travel Show

Event Information:

  • Chicago: January 11-12, 2014
  • Bay Area/Santa Clara: January 25-26, 2014
  • Los Angeles: February 8-9, 2014
  • Washington, D.C.: February 22-23, 2014
  • San Diego: March 29-30, 2014

Why Attend?  The Travel and Adventure Show is the longest running series of consumer travel events in the US. Over 13,000 qualified consumers and travel agents plan and book vacations with over 250 US and worldwide DMOs, tour operators, cruise lines and hotels/resorts.  Past activities for attendees included scuba diving, rock climbing, camel rides, zip lining and Segway riding lessons.

Los Angeles Times Travel Show


Los Angeles Times Travel Show

Event Information:

  • January 17- 19, 2014
  • Los Angeles Convention Center, Los Angeles, CA

Why Attend? If you’re a travel business interested in reaching the Southern California market, don’t miss this event! According to http://events.latimes.com/travelshow/ more than 2,000 travel professionals attended the conference this year, while consumer attendance reached a new high of 21,000. An exit survey conducted at the show indicated that consumers spent an average of 4 hours exploring the show floor, with 90% seeking information about potential destinations and 94% planning to travel within the year.


New York Times Travel Show

Event Information:

  • February 28- March 2, 2014
  • The Jacob K. Javits Center, New York City, NY

Why Attend? The New York Times Travel Show features nearly 500 exhibitors representing more than 150 countries, 5,700 trade professionals, 18,000 consumers and focuses on travel destinations, packages and special offers, as well as tour operators, cruise lines and live entertainment for the whole family. Also, it includes opportunities to interact with trade, media and consumers.

Photo courtesy of Wild China Blog

cruise ship



Event Information:

  • April 2-6, 2014
  • Broward County Convention Center, Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Why Attend? If you’re looking to penetrate the cruising travel agent community, Cruse3sixty is a must. Last year’s show hosted inspections of 13 cruise ships, over 1,200 travel agents from 42 states, 7 Canadian provinces, and 13 other countries.


Luxury Travel Exchange

Event Information: December 2014

Why Attend? LTX leads the luxury and premium niche markets. LTX attracts a high-quality base by prequalifying and reimbursing travel agents. In 2012, the event drew more than 1,000 professional travel advisors and 350 luxury travel suppliers with more than 7,000 one-to-one meetings conducted.

MLT Univ


MLT University

Event Information: September 12-15, 2014

 Why Attend? If you’re looking to become educated in the travel industry, MLTU offers some of the best opportunities to learn and network.  Because of their relationship with Delta, this show brings in a diverse set of 2,500 travel agents from 46 out of 50 states.

Photo courtesy of Travel Agency Central

Naureen Kazi

Written by Naureen Kazi

A true citizen of the world, DCI Tourism Managing Director Naureen Kazi is originally Pakistani, was raised in Mexico City, has worked in Japan and travels on her American passport. She is fluent in five languages and cultures (perfecting number six), which allows her to design and implement public relations programs and travel trade marketing campaigns with global implications.

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