New Orleans played the perfect host for the International Pow Wow (IPW) 2016, providing an exciting venue for the travel trade show that showcases the best of US destinations to both international and domestic buyers over the course of five days.
The IPW is the US travel industry’s premier international marketplace and the largest generator of travel to the United States.
On the press side, some conferences announced big reveals, while others gave updates on past endeavours. Here’s a recap of what happened at the media-only invites.
Stay open and connected
Safety and health concerns are two good reasons to keep protecting and expanding international travel. And travel policies must serve to keep the United States a welcoming destination, said US Travel Association president and CEO Roger Dow.
“It’s impossible to insulate ourselves from risk,” Dow said, noting the recent terror attacks in Brussels, Paris and Istanbul as well as the potential spread of the Zika virus.
“We must not retreat out of fear. Instead we must stay open and connected,” he added.
The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) – online application for visitors to the States – is one way to maintain openness.
World Travel & Tourism Council president and CEO David Scowsill said the VWP is “much more safe than manual visa processing”. His comment came amidst calls to suspend the programme.
Marketing the welcome
An important initiative is the “Market the Welcome” campaign. The programme was developed in response to negative perceptions of the arrival experience at US airports, said Brand USA president and CEO Chris Thompson.
Designed specifically for gateway airports, the campaign seeks to adorn airports with customised display graphics and templates with welcoming messaging and impactful photography. The informational signage is customised to feature local attractions, history, cuisine and personality.
“One of the things we realised was that in the arrival halls of a lot of our airports, the experience is very stoic and not very welcoming,” he said.
In time for the IPW 2016, the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport became the fourth airport in the nation to implement the campaign.
The other airports that have implemented the campaign are the Miami International Airport, Chicago-O’Hare International Airport and Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport.
Brand USA is an organisation dedicated to marketing the United States as a premier travel destination.
Mega way to see the States
Brand USA also unveiled plans for MegaFams, its large scale multi-itinerary familiarisation tours. Next year, the organisation will launch new MegaFam initiatives – the first fly-and-drive MegaFam, the first MegaFam from China and the first MegaFam from Mexico.
Thompson said the programme – a first for the US travel industry – is one of the most effective ways to promote travel across the United States. He added that each tour itinerary features a combination of travel experiences.
Theme park fans are in for a treat at both Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood with new attractions and upgrades. Universal Parks & Resorts chief marketing officer and executive vice president (international brand management) Alice Norsworthy highlighted the debut of Skull Island: Reign Of Kong which will thrill visitors with 3D encounters with the iconic King Kong. She also spoke at length about Volcano Bay, a massive water theme park that’s slated to open next year.
Meanwhile, Universal Studios Hollywood is celebrating the debut of The Walking Dead attraction as well as a revamp of Universal CityWalk. Universal Studios Hollywood executive vice president (marketing and sales) Xiomara Wiley also mentioned that since its opening in April this year, the reception towards The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has been tremendously positive.
Big Apple’s big news
NYC & Company president and CEO Fred Dixon talked about new developments in New York. These include a relaunched tourism website as well as the “See It for Yourself” global campaign.
Also announced was the ever youthful Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as the new official NYC Family Ambassadors.
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In a move that will surely excite millennial travellers, visitors will be able to stay connected on the Internet with an increasing number of WiFi hotspots around the city.
Some of the new attractions in New York to look out for include the walk-through underwater attraction called National Geographic Times Square: Ocean Giants (summer 2017) and Hudson Yards (2018), a new retail/commercial/residential development.
Keep moving in LA
Last year, Los Angeles welcomed a record-breaking 45.6 million visitors. Of this number, 6.8 million were international visitors.
Tourism is thriving in this city. This can also be seen in the investment in its local infrastructure, including new lines and stations for the LA Metro.
A new bike-share programme, launched on July 7, will provide another transportation option for visitors.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is investing in 25 major capital improvement projects. These include providing greater capacity to the existing Tom Bradley International Terminal.
New gates will be added to comfortably accommodate passenger loads for the larger, new generation aircraft.