And Where There’s IPW, There is Malcolm Smith: With the world’s liveliest, largest and most productive face-to-face USA international travel marketplace less than six months from now in Las Vegas, one gets the sense from talking to the person who runs the show—Malcolm Smith, U.S. Travel’s senior vice president of business development and general manager of IPW—that the show will indeed go on.
Some in the international tourism industry might be skittish because of news reports of a possible third wave of the global pandemic might still strike some countries that are key overseas source markets of international travelers to the USA. But Smith, who has run IPW for nearly a dozen years, manifests the mien and confidence of an informed seer: not only will IPW take place Sept. 18-22, 2021, he says, it will mark the restart and return of the live international travel trade show to the lexicon of tour operators, DMOs and travel suppliers for the first time in a year-and-a-half.
When INBOUND spoke with Malcolm last Friday, we found him to be acutely aware of ongoing developments in all of the top international source markets. He talked, for instance, of the day-to-day news in the UK—it is the number one overseas source market for the USA—and what the outlook is for the country and its tourism industry’s near-term prospects for progress are.
Staying on Top of the News: Smith noted that a UK Global Travel Taskforce is scheduled to release a report on April 12 (and possibly a week earlier) in which it will “set out stable, clear and sustainable conditions for the return to international leisure travel. What the task force tells us will decide if non-essential international travel could resume as early as May 17.”
He speculated that, with both the U.S. and the United Kingdom administering COVID-19 vaccinations to more and more of its residents, the two countries might be able to establish a travel lane between the two long-haul destinations. As well, Smith noted, national borders seem to be opening at a steady schedule elsewhere, and that a number of nations and international organizations are planning to use “vaccination passports.”
The Three IPW Themes for 2021: All of the above, combined with other facts and trend information at his disposal, Smith makes a convincing case. But what is most important—more than any of the above, he emphasizes—is what U.S. Travel is doing to reassure both travel buyers. And, Smith said, they are:
1. Health and Safety—nothing is of more importance to IPW organizer than making sure that delegates feel safe, secure and healthy at the event. Said Smith: “we have to create an environment that will make people feel comfortable,” noting that meal functions will be staggered, with three different start times for luncheon.
2. “We’re urging delegates to ‘build your own experience’ at IPW.” For delegates who do so, Smith said that they will have an increase in networking time, plus opportunities to attend on-site market and educational sessions. On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, delegates will have the opportunity to schedule these sessions during the 8:30 a.m.—9:50 a.m. slot. In effect, each delegate can customize his or her schedule.
3. A “Book with Confidence” campaign will allow all delegates to have a 100 percent refund up to June 30th. No delegate should hesitate on deciding whether or not to register for IPW because they feel that they will have to forfeit their deposits.
Here, INBOUND dispenses with the verbiage and lets the following graphic explain the IPW schedule.
They’re Ready to Come to Las Vegas: Smith pointed out that some 200 buyers who planned to go to IPW 2020, had carried over their registrations to 2021 (which opened this week) and that “what we’re hearing is that, if the borders are open, we’ll be there,” adding “there is a tremendous desire to visit the U.S … they’re getting the vibe all over the globe.”
A Note on the Destination: “Las Vegas has been fantastic,” Smith noted, explaining that the destination had been ready last year to introduce delegates to a number of new travel attractions and experiences. The past year has provided Las Vegas with the opportunity to develop new product and to showcase it to international tour operators and media delegates worldwide.
A Note on IPW’s New Partners: Smith reported that interest is high in the first-ever co-location of IPW with three events organized and hosted by Connect Travel. “By co-locating our Connect Travel events alongside the most important travel event in the United States, we are creating exciting synergies for our partners to efficiently make connections across multiple industry sectors,” said Connect Travel President Will Seccombe. “Las Vegas will be the epicenter of the U.S. travel industry in September 2021, and together these events will be the catalyst for travel recovery in 2021 and beyond.”
—Connect THRIVE SUMMIT, September 18-19, 2021. Connect THRIVE Summit is focused on community development through LGBTQ travel, sports, and entertainment. This one-of-a-kind marketing summit features dynamic general sessions and networking events alongside a series of pre-scheduled, one-on-one connections between destinations, resorts, hotels, attractions, domestic and international tour operators and travel agents, sports rights holders, media, marketers and brands.
—eTOURISM SUMMIT, September 20-22 2021. Founded in 2000, eTOURISM SUMMIT attendees get up-to-the-minute, real-life examples of the latest applications in video, content marketing, email marketing, search, social media, mobile and web design. In an intimate setting, attendees get concrete ideas from their peers about how to get the most bang for their buck, learn guerilla marketing tactics, participate in interactive sessions, and hear about dozens of case studies to find out what’s working…and what’s not.
—Connect TOUR, September 20-22, 2021. Connect TOUR is a domestic travel show, specifically designed to address industry needs. The event combines the right timing, a unique format that creates an efficient and effective environment to expedite the sales process and close business and a robust educational track to inspire and inform industry leaders in a rapidly evolving market. Connect Tour is the premier hosted-buyer event that brings together the most active tour operators, suppliers and experts in Domestic tour and travel for preset appointments, keynote general sessions, planner/supplier roundtables and quality networking.
Visit here for a list of key IPW dates and deadlines.