Eight Tips for First Time Attendees to a Travel Conference

May 10, 2024
Group of people mingling at a travel conference

First time attendees to a travel conference are often overwhelmed. Representing your destinations is important work, but we’ve all been there. We understand the stress.

With the upcoming PRSA Travel & Tourism 2024 Section Conference: The Bridge to PRogress, it’s time to share some wisdom on how to best optimize your attendance at these events. These eight mindsets will get you thinking clearly and strategically, ensuring you make the most of your event.

1. Set Clear Goals

Even before booking your ticket, tell yourself why you’re attending in the first place. Understand what you hope to get out of the PRSA Travel & Tourism 2024 Section Conference — or any travel conference for that matter — and go from there.

Maybe you’re seeking to network, to learn about industry trends, or to discover new opportunities. There is no wrong or right motivation. But having a clear set of goals ahead of time will help first time travel conference attendees organize their time and guide participation on the big day.

2. Review the Agenda

Knowing what’s going to happen at the conference seems obvious, but sometimes it’s the simplest things that we overlook. Familiarize yourself with the conference agenda in advance. Identify sessions, workshops, and keynotes that align with your interests and goals.

Plan your schedule accordingly to optimize your time and decrease your stress level when presented with all of the options that take place simultaneously at the event.

3. Attend Formal Networking Events

Networking is a key part of any conference, and the PRSA Travel & Tourism 2024 Section Conference is no exception. Be sure to participate in organized networking events, receptions, or social gatherings associated with the conference. These provide formal opportunities to connect with other attendees who are there for the same reasons as you.

Smile, make eye contact, and be open to conversations. You’re all there to connect, after all! The conversations you start at these events will lead to even more after the conference.

4. Network Proactively

Take advantage of time between events to connect with people, as well. First time travel conference attendees need to be prepared with their own elevator pitch when meeting people. Prepare a brief introduction about yourself, your role, and your goals for attending. 

Above all, don’t wait for people to shake your hand. Be proactive in introducing yourself to others and collecting contact information. Go online, as well, and join the conference’s social media channels and use event-specific hashtags. This allows you to follow real-time updates, connect with other attendees, and participate in online discussions during and after the conference.

5. Explore the Exhibit Area

Despite your best planning, there’s no way to know exactly what the conference will look like. Not everything will go as planned, and there may be some last-minute additions you won’t want to miss. First time attendees to a travel conference like the PRSA Travel & Tourism 2024 Section Conference must visit the exhibit or vendor area to learn about new products, services, and industry trends that they may not have planned on exploring. 

It’s also the perfect time to engage with exhibitors, ask questions, and collect relevant materials.

6. Attend the Right Sessions

At the PRSA Travel & Tourism 2024 Section Conference, you’ll find various sessions that speak to topics that are important to you. Attend, and attend actively. Be that person who asks questions during the discussions to engage presenters. This not only helps you gain insights but also shows your engagement and interest in the topics being discussed.

And trust us on this pro tip: bring a notebook or use a digital device to take notes during sessions. You’ll be kicking yourself after if you forget to capture key points, ideas, and action items. These notes will be valuable when you reflect on the conference after it concludes.

7. Be Bold and Greet Speakers

No matter what sessions you go to, be bold and introduce yourself and your destination to media speakers. It’s the moment to hand them a pitch seat and set yourself up to follow up after the conference. They’ll remember you more than the people who didn’t approach them.

Send personalized emails expressing your pleasure in meeting them, referencing specific points from your conversation, and suggesting next steps.

8. Play Back To Your Boss and CEO

First time travel conference attendees might think it’s all over after they leave — but alas, there’s more. Take time to reflect on what you’ve learned during the event. Play it back to your boss and CEO. Demonstrate you were worth the investment with a report or presentation.

And be sure to take and include photos in your feedback — but just none with a drink in hand!

For veteran or first time travel conference attendees, events like PRSA Travel & Tourism 2024 Section Conference are great opportunities to showcase your destination. Get in touch with Kayla Leska at [email protected] to learn how DCI’s more than 60 years of experience in destination marketing can help you maximize your investment.

Written by

Kayla Leska

Vice President