And Better, as Travel Week Europe and Global Market Place Establish Their Presence
It was clearly a mood that suggested relief as much as it did rejoicing—for the first time in more than a year-and-a-half, the Brand USA board of directors conducted a live, face-to-face meeting last Wednesday in Washington, D.C, where the organization is headquartered. The meeting’s agenda showed that Brand USA, which had been operating in a limbo-like state of readiness, was indeed now operating in a post-pandemic mindset. Underscoring the point were the half-dozen new hires who were on hand the night before the meeting to meet board members.
While the session was only a little longer than most of the board’s meetings, it nonetheless packed a lot of updates into its schedule, mostly from Tom Garzilli, its chief marketing officer, who walked everyone through a presentation of some 50 minutes that came across as a tight, concise 101 international marketing class for inbound travel and tourism industry professionals.
One surprise that came out of all Garzilli had to say is that the organization’s Brand USA Travel Week held October 25-28 in London, which brought a select group of European buyers of Visit USA travel product together, proved to be a resounding success. The event, held for the second time (after the original second edition was scratched due to the global pandemic) pulled enough U.S. travel suppliers—mostly DMOs—to make the trip to London. This was just a week out from the mega-trade show World Travel Market, held Nov. 1-3, 2021, also in London. And it followed Sept. 18-22 IPW—the top industry show on the Visit USA international travel market circuit, in which Brand USA, plays a key role.
Brand USA Travel Week by the numbers:
—12 enrichment sessions featuring 38 speakers
—Over 300 exhibitors from 95 organizations
—85 percent of the exhibitors were destinations
—More than 130 buyers from 13 countries, representing 20 markets
—Networking opportunities–“This time around, those were really important because people were so happy to see one another,” said Garzilli.
Also a hit for those who had the occasion to attend its sessions was a C-Suite Collection of meeting which came together in the last two weeks before Travel Week itself, with a focus on the media professionals who attended the event.
Some C-Suite numbers:
—40 key media
“We didn’t get 100 percent of all the buyers that were available to us, but if we had, we probably would not get that much higher than 155-160,” explained Garzilli. “But the size of the buyer market is pretty finite. And we are very much in engaged with who they are and how to make them more engaged with the breadth of our product. They were as familiar coming to the Travel Week as our exhibitors were, and they were very happy.” Overall, as the following numbers show, it seems to have gone over well with most attendees.
Brand USA Travel Week Survey Feedback
● 100 percent of exhibitors and 96 percent of buyer respondents agreed that the event helped them achieve their goals.
● 100 percent of exhibitors and 97 percent of buyer respondents were satisfied with Brand USA Travel Week Europe 2021.
● 100 percent of exhibitors and 68 percent of buyers rated the quality of meetings as “good” or “very good.”
Garzilli said that Brand USA is getting ready to finalize the dates for the next Travel Week in the autumn of 2022 in Frankfort. The show will take place every other year in London.
As an aside, he noted that the all of the above was handled by a staff contingent that was half its size vs. the number who were with the organization when it put on the first Brand USA Travel Week
“We have to find a way to do a virtual Travel Week.” So said Garzilli as he pointed to the apparent success of Brand USA’s Global Marketplace, a virtual, ongoing trade show with all the bells, whistles and other features that travel and tourism professionals have come to expect. He said that the organization realized, “we have to keep the lights on for all of our partners.”
He added, “We didn’t do it just to use a platform. We had to own a platform. And have a platform. And that’s what this became/ This is our virtual marketplace.” To use it between IPWs and Travel Weeks and IPWs.”
Built and launched in about three months, in October of 2020, the Global Marketplace gives Brand USA “gives us ability to use a virtual training program for industry employees, and to train members of organizations who are members” of Brand USA.
Since then, it has facilitated more than 5,000 one-on-one meetings, hosted more than 3,000 event attendees and served partners in 29 countries. For more on the Brand USA Global Marketplace, visit https://www.thebrandusa.com/programs/brand-usa-global-marketplace.
To see the Brand USA board meeting’s presentation, click here.