For the longest time, I’ve heard fellow colleagues in the media ooh and aah about the NYT travel show so this year I took the leap and applied to attend as media. Following are my observations from attending this year! Why a conference in NYC in January though? Yes, I was not happy about location given I went from balmy 70s in Hollywood to almost 30s in Manhattan for this. I guess they have no choice but seriously? Maybe another month? #JustSayin
1. The Javits center is an amazing venue. Also, HUGE. So wear sensible shoes, not just for the cold but also for all the walking and standing in line you will be doing. As media, you are better off than the general public that purchases tickets for these shows to score travel and stay deals. You have a dedicated registration counter, a press area where you can stack your stuff for the day, plug in to zone out and get some work done, and water and hot beverages for sustenance, oh and also restroom facilities nearby as well as the food court.
2. The majority of the presentations for trade are dedicated to the travel trade so think travel agents, vacation planners, etc. The press presentations are limited to one room alone. So if you do choose to be there on trade day (that is one day ahead of the show opening to the public) be prepared that some of the presentations are going to be a hit or miss depending on what you cover. I personally did not find any of these sessions particularly inviting this year or professionally helpful. I just sat in on some for the fact that I was there for trade day and wanted to put that to good use.
3. As for the show itself, the floor space is one large hall divided into destination categories by continent and then a separate area for cruises. Mark your day out with an advance review of the floor plan from the conference bags they hand out at registration. That is your sanity in check. Otherwise you could be just walking around with no direction whatsoever and tire pretty easily.
4. Many destinations here are open to speaking with media and sending you information. Very few are really here to talk press trips or fam tours or media visits. They are really focused on selling their special deals to the visiting public. So ask for their local PR rep or agency to get that conversation going. The performance stages on the other hand are a lot of fun and I found myself enjoying many of the demos, presentations and talks.
5. Destinations will try to hand you a lot of information. Ask them to mail it to you instead because carrying around a big bag of marketing material from every single booth is soon going to tell on your shoulders and back. I saw many bring along roll on suitcases to counter that. Also, requesting information by email gets the ball rolling on taking the conversation forward as far as visiting that destination goes.
6. Have something memorable to hand out to your contacts. In my case, my mini moo business cards were a hit. Whoever I presented it to chuckled when they saw the size and did look at it twice. Its also fun to offer them different backgrounds to pick from – a great icebreaker and surefire way to confirm they noticed your website.
7. Food is a tad bit expensive inside the conference hall. They do have many options though with multiple food courts, Starbucks and you could get a quick cab ride to restaurants down the street. If you are eating onsite though, be prepared for long lines and longer delivery times when you are in the thick of the show.
8. A couple different receptions were held for media members but all pretty crowded and noisy so unless you know someone to hang out with or are a big time extrovert, these simply do not make sense. I recommend trying to organize a separate meeting with your colleagues or using this time to explore more of the city (If the cold is not an issue). I took the time to check out some of the restaurants in Koreatown where I was staying.
Was it worth my time and money to head to the show? I am not sure yet. I have some leads on story angles and such that I still have to explore to see what comes of it. But at this time, going there just once for the experience of it is about all I can vouch for. Watch this space for updates if anything further pans out from this exercise!